What happened when a group of Chicago entrepreneurs, startup co-founders, and forward-thinking attorneys went to a Cubs game?
Catapult Chicago was born.
Catapult Chicago is the brainchild of entrepreneurs and tech startup co-founders Ryan Leavitt, Vishal Shah and Kris Chinosorn, and Foley & Lardner attorneys Christopher Cain and Galen Mason. They recognized a gap in available resources for later-stage startup companies (scale-ups), a lack of flexible term office space, and a need for a place where Chicago’s big business can efficiently leverage innovation.
Catapult Chicago, based on the vision of the five founders, is a unique space and a vital part of Chicago’s startup ecosystem. Our priority is the success of our resident startups. We are a non-profit and take no equity in their companies. We are a startup for startups – founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.
Here’s the story:
In the summer of 2011, Ryan Leavitt, Vishal Shah (of Catapult-headquartered VLinks Media), and Kris Chinosorn (of Catapult-headquartered MentorMob) identified a need for a place for growing tech companies in Chicago to come together to form a community of shared experiences and support. At the same time, attorneys Christopher Cain and Galen Mason saw that a new market was developing in Chicago. They believed their law firm, Foley & Lardner, could play an integral role in helping to foster and accelerate this new market’s economic development.
Having been introduced through a mutual contact, the 5 guys met up at a Cubs game to discuss the creation of a peer-selected, co-working community for later-stage digital startups. In true startup fashion, they wrote a proposal and three days later they founded Catapult Chicago.
Catapult Chicago took up residence in 12,000 square feet of Foley’s downtown Chicago, River North office space and became Catapult’s Founding Sponsor. Foley also helped Catapult secure similar support from other established Chicago businesses with expertise in accounting, human resources, marketing and real estate.
In March 2012, Catapult opened its doors.
“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.”