In the summer of 2011, Foley Partner Christopher Cain and Senior Counsel Galen Mason recognized that a new market was developing in Chicago, and that Foley was not only in a position to differentiate and establish itself as the go-to law firm in the Midwest for this market but that with the firm’s existing resources and talents, Foley also could play an integral role in helping to foster and accelerate the market’s economic development.
As entrepreneurs of growing startups themselves, Catapult Chicago co-founders Ryan Leavitt and Vishal Shah (both team members of Catapult-headquartered company VLinks Media), and MentorMob co-founder Kris Chinosorn, recognized the need for a place for growing tech companies in Chicago to come together to form a community of shared experienced and support. Having been introduced through a mutual contact, Leavitt, Shah and Chinosorn eventually met up at a Cubs game with Foley attorneys Chris Cain and Galen Mason, also Co-founders of Catapult Chicago, to discuss the creation of a peer-selected coworking community. The five founders wrote a proposal and three days later Foley became founding sponsor of Catapult — giving them half a floor of unused office space in which to launch the ambitious incubator.
Catapult Chicago took up residence in 12,000 square feet of Foley’s downtown Chicago Class A office space. In addition to providing space and pro bono counsel to Catapult, Foley lawyers from a variety of practice areas hold regular office hours for Catapult residents, participate in various presentations and programming, and open up their professional network. Foley also helped Catapult secure similar support from other established Chicago businesses with expertise in accounting, human resources, marketing and real estate. Connecting Chicago’s know-how with the most promising leaders of the new market had begun.
“The word Catapult captured the concept of what we’re trying to do here,” said Mason. “These companies have business traction already. Their idea is close to or ready to go, and they are spring-loaded for business execution. And if there’s anything Chicago knows well, it’s business execution.”