Catapult Chicago http://catapultchicago.com Where Startups Come to Scale Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:23:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Opternative Company Profile http://catapultchicago.com/opternative-company-profile/ http://catapultchicago.com/opternative-company-profile/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 15:51:27 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2926 Taking an eye exam has never been easier with help from Opternative, the world’s first online eye examination system that delivers a valid prescription signed by an ophthalmologist within 5-10 minutes for around $35. We recently spoke with Dr. Steven Lee, EVP and Co-Founder of Opternative, to get an inside look into the company. Since […]]]>

Taking an eye exam has never been easier with help from Opternative, the world’s first online eye examination system that delivers a valid prescription signed by an ophthalmologist within 5-10 minutes for around $35. We recently spoke with Dr. Steven Lee, EVP and Co-Founder of Opternative, to get an inside look into the company.

Since its inception in 2013, the eye exam the team has developed has “improved dramatically” according to Lee. A number of leading optometrists and ophthalmologists have provided Opternative with feedback and suggestions to create an extremely robust and thorough online refractive eye examination system. The way the exam works is through the use of both a smart phone and computer. By measuring a credit card, the user is able to calibrate the exam to his/her screen size. The test also accurately measures sight at different distances by asking your shoe size and telling you to either take heel-to-toe steps away or toward your screen. By testing for color blindness, astigmatism, contrast, and distance reading, Opternative is able to provide a legitimate prescription for everyone.

According to Lee, the best advice the company has received thus far has been to keep innovating. Innovation is one of the key characteristics that make companies succeed despite the possible failures that come along with being startups. It comes as no surprise that Apple and Facebook, two of the most innovative companies in history, are businesses that Lee looks up to. Much like the aforementioned companies, competition exists in the marketplace for Opternative. The team is constantly evaluating the competitive landscape and searching for ways to distinguish themselves as the world’s first and only refractive online eye exam that delivers a valid prescription.

So far, the consumer responses to Opternative’s exam have been positive. The individuals that have taken the exam as test subjects have mentioned that the exam is “not only convenient, but also intuitive and fun.” Having taken the exam myself, the speed with which the exam can be completed is something I am especially drawn to. As opposed to a traditional eye exam that requires me to drive to the doctor’s office, wait for the doctor, and then complete the exam which could take up to an hour, Opternative’s exam took me only a few minutes. In a world where time and money are extremely valuable, Opternative has cracked the code on making sure you can see clearly in a matter of minutes at a fraction of the cost.

What does Dr. Steven Lee do when he’s not disrupting the eye care industry? He enjoys running, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Relaxing and working in Chicago have their benefits, despite the harsh winters and (usually) hot summers. The variety of restaurants and sites to visit year round keep plenty of entrepreneurs busy and inspired. With all of the exciting things happening with Opternative, we’re definitely looking forward to winter 2014 when the company is set to launch the exam and forever change how the world sees eye care.

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GetSet Launches http://catapultchicago.com/getset-launches/ http://catapultchicago.com/getset-launches/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:50:45 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3015 GetSet, a Catapult alumni, is out of stealth mode and has officially launched with over 10,000 freshmen at Arizona State University. GetSet is an edtech company aimed at reducing the high college dropout rate. GetSet allows students to meet other students with similar backgrounds/goals, ask questions, and get advice/feedback – using a natural language processing […]]]>

GetSet, a Catapult alumni, is out of stealth mode and has officially launched with over 10,000 freshmen at Arizona State University.

GetSet is an edtech company aimed at reducing the high college dropout rate. GetSet allows students to meet other students with similar backgrounds/goals, ask questions, and get advice/feedback – using a natural language processing (NLP) engine called PeerWisdom.

Check out the press for GetSet:

Just out of stealth mode, GetSet is already helping thousands of college students stay in school in Built In Chicago

With Back-to-School Season Underway, GetSet Looks to Reduce Drop-Out Rate Through Data in ChicagoInno

GetSet Uses Natural Language Processing To Reduce College Drop-out Rates in TechCrunch

PrepMe founder is back with sophomore effort in Crain’s

GetSet graduated from Catapult in May, moving into their own office space. Now out of stealth, we are so excited to (finally!) include GetSet among our list of alumni.

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In Their Own Words – Supply Vision Moves to Catapult http://catapultchicago.com/in-their-own-words-supply-vision-moves-to-catapult/ http://catapultchicago.com/in-their-own-words-supply-vision-moves-to-catapult/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:24:29 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2997 Supply Vision, the cloud-based, logistics software company, joined Catapult only two months ago, but CEO Amanda Bohl and her team have jumped right in to be an integral part of the Catapult community. This guest post first appeared on Supply Vision’s website. Supply Vision is thrilled to announce it has become a member of Catapult Chicago. Catapult […]]]>

Supply Vision, the cloud-based, logistics software company, joined Catapult only two months ago, but CEO Amanda Bohl and her team have jumped right in to be an integral part of the Catapult community. This guest post first appeared on Supply Vision’s website.

Supply Vision is thrilled to announce it has become a member of Catapult Chicago. Catapult allows the company to leverage the teams’ innovation with like-minded technology entrepreneurs in a scale-up environment. Working in close proximity of other entrepreneurs gives Amanda Bohl, CEO of Supply Vision, an instant community. “It’s the best environment we could be in. The growth happening within these walls builds an energy that everyone can sense. It’s palpable.”

“We’ve been growing quickly,” Bohl continued, “And Catapult nurtures our people in a community of technology entrepreneurs.” This unique space is the right place for the growing Supply Vision transportation technology team. The atmosphere is one of collaboration and continuous innovation. Supply Vision developers are a part of the Catapult community where technology experts can bounce ideas off each other. This out of the box thinking helps the team come up with new features that help our shippers. Features like real time status updates, on demand reporting,  export compliance integration (AES Direct) and integrated quoting are innovations that sets Supply Vision apart in the marketplace.

“On behalf of the Catapult community, I am thrilled to have Supply Vision and its team in the space,” commented April Lane, Executive Director of Catapult. “They add insight into the technology industry through a logistical lens that will significantly benefit the other residents.”

Bohl sees advantages for herself, too. “I get to be a part of an elite group of business leaders,” she said, “We come together to share resources, bounce around ideas and learn from each other’s experiences. This level of engagement with like-minded technologists has produced ideas for new features that are already in our development pipeline.”

 

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Introducing The Catapult by BucketFeet http://catapultchicago.com/introducing-the-catapult-by-bucketfeet/ http://catapultchicago.com/introducing-the-catapult-by-bucketfeet/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:02:38 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3001 We are excited and proud to have a BucketFeet shoe named after us! The description of the Catapult Canvas Lace-Up: Designed by BucketFeet Co-Founder Aaron Firestein, these colorful shoes are inspired by the vibrant characters and outpouring of creativity present at our first co-working space in Chicago, Catapult. We could not have said it better […]]]>

We are excited and proud to have a BucketFeet shoe named after us!

The description of the Catapult Canvas Lace-Up:

Designed by BucketFeet Co-Founder Aaron Firestein, these colorful shoes are inspired by the vibrant characters and outpouring of creativity present at our first co-working space in Chicago, Catapult.

We could not have said it better ourselves.

Others are talking about it as well – check out the article in ChicagoInno.

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Tactify Company Profile http://catapultchicago.com/tactify-company-profile/ http://catapultchicago.com/tactify-company-profile/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:29:41 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2846 We recently spoke with another Catapult newcomer, Daniel Beatty of Tactify. Tactify is an associate resident of Catapult and offers easy mobile marketing solutions using the latest technologies like NFC (Near Field Communication) and Beacon (BLE) to deliver a level of engagement to mobile marketing not yet seen before. Tactify allows you to create printed […]]]>

We recently spoke with another Catapult newcomer, Daniel Beatty of Tactify. Tactify is an associate resident of Catapult and offers easy mobile marketing solutions using the latest technologies like NFC (Near Field Communication) and Beacon (BLE) to deliver a level of engagement to mobile marketing not yet seen before. Tactify allows you to create printed media and beacons that connect to Mobile content, like business cards, promotional cards, stickers, even digital mixtapes (Sharetapes). Their software allows easy creation, real time management, and analytics, so campaigns get the highest possible return on investment.

With an idea this innovative and complex, it’s natural to wonder how Tactify got started. Beatty explains that NFC technology was fascinating, but under-utilized in the current market. The company founders all have a deep background in smartphone/mobile technology so when they noticed the industry building NFC chips into the phones, they saw it as a great opportunity to breathe life into the space. The key was to develop a way to manage that content online, so it could be adapted into the latest technology, as it evolved, like Beacon.

When asked what differentiates Tactify and its team members from other entrepreneurs in the technology industry, Tactify’s Content Management System is what really sets them apart. This system allows you to update your messaging of the NFC and Beacon products you purchase with Tactify real-time, as well as retrieve detailed analytics on the execution. Beatty explains that people often “realize their projects can be adapted after they sign on the dotted line, allowing them full control over the execution and the greatest chance of the highest return on investment”.

Even with Tactify’s distinctive Content Management System, fear is inevitable when you are an entrepreneur. Beatty’s greatest fear is “worrying that no one likes your idea. That, and running out of funding right before the tipping point.” Despite this, however, Tactify continues to grow and generate new ideas for the business by utilizing a discussion channel where team members can post interesting articles relevant to the industry. Ultimately, these posts lead to discussion and brainstorming. If the idea gets enough traction with the team, time is assigned for someone to see if real value exists.

Although the company’s headquarters are in Sydney, Australia, Beatty would like to have more staff spaced around the US in key markets to leverage Tactify’s diverse portfolio and creativity. With the team communicating from Australia to the US and vice versa, celebrating success consists of a high five via webcam. Even with the fifteen-hour time difference, the Tactify team finds plenty of time to discuss solutions to problems. Beatty explains that the team is “very open and candid and [we] don’t take failures personally. We are growing and learning constantly.”

Since the majority of Tactify’s team is in Australia, Beatty values the opportunities at Catapult to learn from others in the space. With constant ideas being shared among the Catapult members and events promoting communication among companies, there is always knowledge to gain about how to grow one’s business.

Tactify’s future looks bright. In the next few years, Beatty would like to see Tactify establish a strong foothold in the mobile marketing industry, with satellite offices in few major markets in the US. They would like to triple their workforce, providing more jobs to individuals and have well-developed relationships with localized partners and distributors, allowing even faster turnaround times. We are so happy to have Dan Beatty and the rest of his team at Catapult.

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Packback Raises $1 Million http://catapultchicago.com/packback-raises-1-million/ http://catapultchicago.com/packback-raises-1-million/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:04:27 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2982 Congratulations to Catapult alumni Packback on raising $1 Million in funding. The seed funding comes from various investors, including Mark Cuban (from the celebrated Shark Tank victory), 1871’s Howard Tullman, Math Venture Partners’ Mark Achler, University of Chicago Booth’s Mark Tebbe, and Context Media’s Rishi Shah. Packback is generating a lot of press with this announcement – check it […]]]>

Congratulations to Catapult alumni Packback on raising $1 Million in funding.

The seed funding comes from various investors, including Mark Cuban (from the celebrated Shark Tank victory), 1871’s Howard Tullman, Math Venture Partners’ Mark Achler, University of Chicago Booth’s Mark Tebbe, and Context Media’s Rishi Shah.

Packback is generating a lot of press with this announcement – check it out…

Packback lands $1M from Cuban, Tullman and host of angels in Crain’s Chicago

Packback raises $1 million, including ‘Shark Tank’ investment in Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovations

After Shark Tank, Packback Seeded For ‘Pay-Per-View’ E-Textbook Rentals in Wall Street Journal

eTextbook platform Packback closes $1M round from Mark Cuban and local angels in Built in Chicago

Packback Scores $1M for Daily Digital Textbook Rentals in Edsurge

 

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Scholastica Company Profile http://catapultchicago.com/scholastica-company-profile/ http://catapultchicago.com/scholastica-company-profile/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 09:00:31 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2931 Next up in our Startup Spotlight Series is Scholastica, a publishing platform that makes it easy for scholars to manage manuscripts, find editors and reviewers, and publish journals online. Brian Cody, CEO and Co-Founder of Scholastica, recently spoke with us about his company, life as an entrepreneur, and being a part of the Catapult community. […]]]>

Next up in our Startup Spotlight Series is Scholastica, a publishing platform that makes it easy for scholars to manage manuscripts, find editors and reviewers, and publish journals online. Brian Cody, CEO and Co-Founder of Scholastica, recently spoke with us about his company, life as an entrepreneur, and being a part of the Catapult community.

Since Catapult is a digital start-up community, we are not strangers to the technology industry and neither is Brian Cody. What differentiates Scholastica’s team from others in the industry is their unique perspective, which is rooted in two ideals: remaining deeply academic and passionately practical. Cody explained that the mission of Scholastica is focused on scholarship, and so “as a company Scholastica really tried to model the best aspects of academia, including intellectual honesty, transparency of sources, and public discourse”. Scholastica tries to link this scholarly orientation with the strengths of the startup world: a focus on producing, addressing real-world problems, the experiment/learn/pivot process, and being agile through rapid iterations. Combining the thoroughness of academic research with the fast-paced startup mantra is challenging, but Cody is proud that his team feels it’s a noble goal—and this combination also pushes them to have a great product.

When asked what the worst part about being your own boss is, Cody responds: the inability to compartmentalize worry. You have to worry about everything, including the things you don’t even know you have to worry about yet. When he’s not worrying about running the business, Cody loves to build wooden furniture, though he doesn’t think he is particularly good at it. As much as we love furniture, we’re glad he’s sticking with disrupting academic publishing instead.

Excluding his own company, Brian Cody is most intrigued by Opternative, another startup in our space. Opternative is the world’s first online eye exam that yields a valid prescription from an ophthalmologist, something that Cody notes would benefit him significantly. He currently orders his glasses online and knows that Opternative offers a super-clear benefit that millions of people are going to love.

Joining Catapult has significantly changed the way Brian Cody looks at entrepreneurship. Based on his experience in our co-working space, Cody thinks other entrepreneurs are the most valuable resource available to entrepreneurs, a key feature of Catapult. He notes that one of the biggest challenges of growing a tech company is “dealing with unexpected developments and coping with uncertainty”. This has become more manageable through experience. He discovered that augmenting his own experience with first-hand accounts of other founders’ experiences, asking them questions, and learning from their shared experiences is increasingly valuable. Brian Cody also wants to thank Raman Chadha of The Junto Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership for starting a forum among Catapult startup founders, which has dramatically increased the quantity and quality of shared experiences Cody has been able to learn from.

With all of the success surrounding Scholastica and their recent funding, there’s no telling what else this company can do!

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Roompact and BondingPoint Join Catapult http://catapultchicago.com/roompact-and-bondingpoint-join-catapult/ http://catapultchicago.com/roompact-and-bondingpoint-join-catapult/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:50:26 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2953 Two promising startups are joining Catapult. Roompact and BondingPoint are innovative tech companies led by smart, dedicated entrepreneurs with energetic teams. Roompact predicts, prevents, and reduces roommate conflict in college and university Residence Halls. Roompact works with industry leaders to analyze data about roommates and help university staff take action. Roompact was recently featured in USA Today […]]]>

Two promising startups are joining Catapult. Roompact and BondingPoint are innovative tech companies led by smart, dedicated entrepreneurs with energetic teams.

Roompact predicts, prevents, and reduces roommate conflict in college and university Residence Halls. Roompact works with industry leaders to analyze data about roommates and help university staff take action. Roompact was recently featured in USA Today College. We welcome Roompact founder Matt Unger and his team.

BondingPoint is a cloud-based consumer engagement platform that, on the front-end, enables brands to deliver their own white-labeled virtual currency and reward program – engaging and rewarding a user at the exact moment of any digital or social interaction. On the back-end, the platform collects permission-based use data – empowering the brand with rich data and business intelligence, and allowing for more refined marketing efforts. We welcome CEO John Calzaretta and his team.

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StyleSeek Graduates Catapult http://catapultchicago.com/styleseek-graduates-catapult/ http://catapultchicago.com/styleseek-graduates-catapult/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 16:48:31 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2957 Congratulations to StyleSeek, graduating Catapult and joining the ranks of our 2014 alumni which include Packback and Procured Health. StyleSeek was one of the first startups to join Catapult, believing in our mission from the beginning. During its time at Catapult, StyleSeek has grown – including raising more funding last year. StyleSeek is busting at the seams […]]]>

Congratulations to StyleSeek, graduating Catapult and joining the ranks of our 2014 alumni which include Packback and Procured Health.

StyleSeek was one of the first startups to join Catapult, believing in our mission from the beginning. During its time at Catapult, StyleSeek has grown – including raising more funding last year. StyleSeek is busting at the seams (pun intended) with 15 employees and has outgrown our space, as is the goal for all Catapult companies.

Recently, StyleSeek was featured in our Startup Spotlight feature.

We wish co-founders Tyler Spalding and Chris Walti, and the entire StyleSeek team, the best of luck in their new digs. Something tells us they will look good!

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Ryan Leavitt Interviewed http://catapultchicago.com/ryan-leavitt-interviewed/ http://catapultchicago.com/ryan-leavitt-interviewed/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:09:22 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=2929 Watch Ryan Leavitt, our president and co-founder, talk to Will Flanagan of ChicagoInno about all things Catapult Chicago. Ryan describes how Catapult fills the need of a shared space for companies with business traction; he explains our unique peer selection process; and he highlights some of our most notable graduates (BucketFeet, Shiftgig, TempoIQ). See it […]]]>

Watch Ryan Leavitt, our president and co-founder, talk to Will Flanagan of ChicagoInno about all things Catapult Chicago. Ryan describes how Catapult fills the need of a shared space for companies with business traction; he explains our unique peer selection process; and he highlights some of our most notable graduates (BucketFeet, Shiftgig, TempoIQ).

See it here!

In addition to being president of Catapult, Ryan is VP Business Development at VLinks Media.

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