Catapult Chicago http://catapultchicago.com Where Startups Come to Scale Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:30:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 MentorMob Company Profile http://catapultchicago.com/mentormob-company-profile/ http://catapultchicago.com/mentormob-company-profile/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:30:39 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3130 The MentorMob team spent the summer of 2013 in New York City as part of the Kaplan EdTech Techstars Accelerator. The intensive 3 month program was pivotal for MentorMob in turning their idea into a business. Co-founders Vince Leung and Kris Chinosorn, and their close-knit group of “mobsters”, returned to Chicago (and to Catapult) to get to work making their passion […]]]>

The MentorMob team spent the summer of 2013 in New York City as part of the Kaplan EdTech Techstars Accelerator. The intensive 3 month program was pivotal for MentorMob in turning their idea into a business. Co-founders Vince Leung and Kris Chinosorn, and their close-knit group of “mobsters”, returned to Chicago (and to Catapult) to get to work making their passion become a reality.

The goal of MentorMob is to create a community of lifelong learners through its crowdsourced lifestyle learning site. From kitesurfing (Coolest.Sport.Ever.) to parenting, from photography to wedding planning, MentorMob allows you to master a skill or lifestyle. With MentorMob, you “learn more and google less.” We were lucky to get a sneak peek at the future MentorMob website, and were wowed by its enticing content, visual beauty, intuitive learning process, and ease of navigation.

Catapult sat down with Vince, co-founder and Chief Technology “Mobster”, to talk about where MentorMob is heading and the entrepreneurial lessons he’s learning along the way.

Tell us a little bit about where MentorMob is right now?

We’ve proven that crowd-curation of high-quality content from around the web is easy to do and extremely useful to those who would have otherwise had to do a lot of Googling themselves to find the information. We’re working on the next big jump in product and user experience – something that has been missing in virtually every online product focused on learning. This is the opportunity that has gotten a lot of investors really excited.

How has your idea evolved since its inception?

It’s the same concept since the inception, to make it easier for anyone in the world to learn a new hobby, interest, or lifestyle as well as to interact with like-minded people in each of those communities. We’ve been iterating on the product and user-experience since then. We’ve learned a lot about how our users around the world use our product and what works well.

Who is your ideal customer? What is your target market?

Ideally every person in the world who has ever done a Google search to learn a hobby, interest, or lifestyle, such as photography, salsa-dancing, or even how to be a cancer survivor, is an ideal customer of MentorMob. Since we have a finite amount of resources we’re targeting topics that are more female-centric and those that have a high-degree of activity and require a lot of content to learn from.

How do you generate new ideas for your business?

We read a lot of news and blogs, and not just within our industry. We also observe how users accomplish different tasks, both online and offline, to better understand how they can translate into our product experience. We also brainstorm a lot since we have a variety of perspectives on the team.

Where do you see your company in the next 2-3 years?

MentorMob will be a recognized and trusted brand to learn and to interact with like-minded people.  We will have expanded the number of topics we offer and have made life easier for millions of people around the world.

What have been your biggest business/entrepreneurial challenges?

The most difficult challenge has been to create a product that hasn’t existed before. Facebook was able to borrow concepts and design elements from previous social networks (Friendster, Myspace) and just execute it in a different way. We’ve had to build MentorMob through a lot of trial and error and looking at different products and industries for inspiration and ideas.

What have been your biggest triumphs?

We’re proud of the the team that we’ve put together as well as the group of supporters, from family and friends to investors and users. Also everyone on the team is really smart and excited about the problem that MentorMob is tackling. It’s also humbling to know that competitors, who have raised 40 times as much capital as us, have “borrowed” design and marketing ideas from us. I suppose it’s true that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

How do you handle different opinions and conflicts among the leaders of your team?

Just like any relationship we have our ups and downs. Luckily we have an odd number of leaders so we always have a tie-breaker!

What does your team do to bond/relax?

We try to do BBQs and celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries.  We’ll also do “off-sites” to work at different locations to keep things a little more dynamic and less stale.

Do you listen to music while you work? What’s on your playlist?

Absolutely! We switch it up from Empire of the Sun to Jack Johnson to Motown. We try to play music aloud so it’s a more open environment.

What do you find to be most beneficial about sharing a space with multiple entrepreneurs? What’s the best part of Catapult?

Being able to get access to a variety of perspectives on a given topic. You don’t feel alone as an entrepreneur. Catapult has a great vetting system to choose which companies come into our community. We value being around startups at around the same stage as us since we all face similar challenges.

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cleverbridge on List of Chicago’s Coolest Offices http://catapultchicago.com/cleverbridge-on-list-of-chicagos-coolest-offices/ http://catapultchicago.com/cleverbridge-on-list-of-chicagos-coolest-offices/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 19:19:07 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3170 We, at Catapult, are not surprised that cleverbridge is on Crain’s list of Chicago’s Coolest Offices for 2014. cleverbridge, a Catapult partner, is one of 12 runners up, with its “favorite feature” being the rooftop deck. We are very lucky that we’ve gotten to experience it first hand this past summer at the Everest Program lunches and […]]]>

We, at Catapult, are not surprised that cleverbridge is on Crain’s list of Chicago’s Coolest Offices for 2014.

cleverbridge, a Catapult partner, is one of 12 runners up, with its “favorite feature” being the rooftop deck. We are very lucky that we’ve gotten to experience it first hand this past summer at the Everest Program lunches and our own Catapult Happy Hour.

And don’t miss the Crain’s article about cleverbridge’s cofounder Craig Vodnik, Why this tech founder is glucklich (that’s German for happy).

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BucketFeet is Growing by Leaps and Bounds http://catapultchicago.com/bucketfeet-is-growing-by-leaps-and-bounds/ http://catapultchicago.com/bucketfeet-is-growing-by-leaps-and-bounds/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:43:00 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3166 BucketFeet is moving (again!), more than doubling its office space. They’ll be staying in the hot West Loop/Fulton Market area with other successful tech companies like Uber and Twitter. BucketFeet has been in their current space since November, after outgrowing Catapult and “graduating” last year. It’s been a good year for BucketFeet… They launched at Nordstrom in March, closed a round of funding in […]]]>

BucketFeet is moving (again!), more than doubling its office space. They’ll be staying in the hot West Loop/Fulton Market area with other successful tech companies like Uber and Twitter. BucketFeet has been in their current space since November, after outgrowing Catapult and “graduating” last year.

It’s been a good year for BucketFeet… They launched at Nordstrom in March, closed a round of funding in June, and introduced new shoe lines this summer (flip flops) and fall (midtops). Congratulations to cofounders Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein and the entire BucketFeet team!

Check out the article in the Chicago Tribune, BucketFeet Doubles Down on Fulton Market.

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Catapult Chicago Partners with Dynamic Signal to Drive Awareness for Local Entrepreneurs and Startups http://catapultchicago.com/catapult-chicago-partners-with-dynamic-signal-to-drive-awareness-for-local-entrepreneurs-and-startups/ http://catapultchicago.com/catapult-chicago-partners-with-dynamic-signal-to-drive-awareness-for-local-entrepreneurs-and-startups/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:26:25 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3123 Dynamic Signal to power Catapult Chicago’s new advocacy marketing channel and content marketing efforts with their VoiceStorm “OS for Advocacy” platform SAN FRANCISCO, CA (October 01, 2014) – Catapult Chicago, a digital start-up community located in the heart of Chicago’s River North neighborhood, is partnering with silicon valley software start-up Dynamic Signal to help activate […]]]>

Dynamic Signal to power Catapult Chicago’s new advocacy marketing channel and content marketing efforts with their VoiceStorm “OS for Advocacy” platform

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (October 01, 2014) – Catapult Chicago, a digital start-up community located in the heart of Chicago’s River North neighborhood, is partnering with silicon valley software start-up Dynamic Signal to help activate its start-up community members as advocates, bringing more exposure, awareness and reach to their entire network of entrepreneurs.

Founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, Catapult Chicago’s mission is to help grow the next generation of technology startups in Chicago.

“We are always looking for innovative new ways to market what we do,” says Michelle Soble, Marketing Director of Catapult Chicago. “The concept of turning the marketing inside out, enabling the founders and teams of all the great companies we work with to be the voice of the community is incredibly powerful. Nobody knows our story better than us, so it’s been exciting to see this program take shape.”

Catapult Chicago is off to a fast start with their advocacy program, with many of the companies they work with already engaged.

“This is an exciting relationship for Dynamic Signal,” says CEO Russ Fradin. “Having been a start-up founder and investor, I know first-hand what it takes to gain traction and break through within a given market. We’re proud to enable these start-ups to have a voice, and lead by example through our technology and experience.”

Dynamic Signal, an industry leader in the advocacy marketing category, powers programs for hundreds of companies, including many fortune 500 brands. Its VoiceStorm platform enables a brand’s employees, partners, or customers to be advocates, by utilizing mobile and web technologies that seamlessly share news and announcements on behalf of the company directly to their personal social connections.

About Catapult Chicago
Catapult Chicago is an independent collaborative community aimed to support growing later-stage tech startups. Founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, Catapult is the only non-profit 501(c)6 working space for Chicago startups that have demonstrated business traction. It is a place where the most talented people behind the most promising startups can learn, grow and excel together. The peer-selection model creates a community culture of hard-working entrepreneurs at similar stages of growth, that can use their shared experiences and network to accelerate growth for one another. Catapult alumni companies include Shiftgig, BucketFeet, TempoIQ, Packback and Procured Health. Current Catapult resident companies include Scholastica, Opternative, The Black Sheep, Supply Vision and LearnCore. Visit us at http://www.catapultchicago.com and follow us on Twitter @CatapultChi.

About Dynamic Signal
Dynamic Signal is a silicon valley software company that provides VoiceStorm, a marketing platform that helps top brands partner with and leverage the social reach and influence of their employees, fans and customers to achieve their branding, marketing and commerce goals. VoiceStorm is the only comprehensive “OS for advocacy,” a single platform for sourcing, managing and distributing content, for managing relationships with advocates, and for sharing via mobile apps. It’s the only feature-complete, one-stop platform with everything needed to run a successful program: an advocate hub, gamification tools to engage advocates, and real-time reporting and insights on program participation and performance. Dynamic Signal’s customers include top companies across entertainment and media, consumer packaged goods, financial services, fashion and beauty, high tech, and advocacy. The company, founded in 2010, is based in San Bruno, California, and is comprised of a veteran management team and top-tier investors including Trinity, Venrock, Time Warner Investments, Rembrandt Venture Partners and Cox Media Group. Visit us at http://www.dynamicsignal.com and follow us on Twitter @dynamic_signal.

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Catapult Welcomes Social Sweepster http://catapultchicago.com/catapult-welcomes-social-sweepster/ http://catapultchicago.com/catapult-welcomes-social-sweepster/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:06:53 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3117 Social Sweepster joins Catapult today as an Associate Member. Social Sweepster is a tool to help people monitor and clean up their online social presence. Using patent-pending computer vision and language processing, Social Sweepster scans the text and images on Facebook and Twitter profiles, flagging potentially undesirable content for the user to keep or delete (can you say red solo […]]]>

Social Sweepster joins Catapult today as an Associate Member.

Social Sweepster is a tool to help people monitor and clean up their online social presence. Using patent-pending computer vision and language processing, Social Sweepster scans the text and images on Facebook and Twitter profiles, flagging potentially undesirable content for the user to keep or delete (can you say red solo cup?). Social Sweepster, targeted to college applicants and job seekers, will help people present themselves in a professional and consistent manner.

A big welcome to co-founder and CEO Tom McGrath and his team!

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Occasion Joins Catapult http://catapultchicago.com/occasion-joins-catapult/ http://catapultchicago.com/occasion-joins-catapult/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:20:25 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3110 Catapult is excited to welcome Occasion to its startup community. Occasion helps merchants easily accept bookings and appointments online, from their own website – not a 3rd party page. Customers can easily and quickly complete their booking in one step from smartphones, tablets or computers, using a seamless and intuitive interface. Thanks to Occasion, businesses and […]]]>

Catapult is excited to welcome Occasion to its startup community.

Occasion helps merchants easily accept bookings and appointments online, from their own website – not a 3rd party page. Customers can easily and quickly complete their booking in one step from smartphones, tablets or computers, using a seamless and intuitive interface. Thanks to Occasion, businesses and their customers benefit.

Occasion was founded in 2013 by Eric Di Silvestro, Kieran Klaasen, Pelle ten Cate, and Aksh Gupta – who met via Airbnb.

Read more about their business and their cool founding story in TechCocktail.

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AirCast Mobile Joins Catapult http://catapultchicago.com/aircast-mobile-joins-catapult/ http://catapultchicago.com/aircast-mobile-joins-catapult/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:49:08 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3106 We welcome AirCast Mobile to Catapult as an Associate Member. AirCast Mobile, Inc. is an award-winning digital and consumer products company. Its products include mobile applications, mobile accessories (The AirClip), and the mobile video and photo messaging platform for Smart TV’s (AirCastLive). AirCastLive, launched in December 2013 on both Google TV and Roku platforms, is the only […]]]>

We welcome AirCast Mobile to Catapult as an Associate Member.

AirCast Mobile, Inc. is an award-winning digital and consumer products company. Its products include mobile applications, mobile accessories (The AirClip), and the mobile video and photo messaging platform for Smart TV’s (AirCastLive). AirCastLive, launched in December 2013 on both Google TV and Roku platforms, is the only video service that lets users send mobile video from their smartphone directly to another user’s TV from anywhere in the world.

We are happy to have co-founder Mike Linhardt join our Catapult community.

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LearnCore Wins Most Promising Startup Award http://catapultchicago.com/learncore-wins-most-promising-startup-award/ http://catapultchicago.com/learncore-wins-most-promising-startup-award/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 21:50:04 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3091 Congratulations to LearnCore, winner of the first ever Startup Voodoo Most Promising Startup Award. 100 midwest startups were nominated, with 5 finalists moving on to the voting round. The top 3 vote-getting startups headed to St. Louis for the 2-minute pitch competition at Startup Voodoo’s inaugural conference on Thursday, September 25. And at the end of the day, it […]]]>

Congratulations to LearnCore, winner of the first ever Startup Voodoo Most Promising Startup Award.

100 midwest startups were nominated, with 5 finalists moving on to the voting round. The top 3 vote-getting startups headed to St. Louis for the 2-minute pitch competition at Startup Voodoo’s inaugural conference on Thursday, September 25. And at the end of the day, it was LearnCore’s co-founders Vishal Shah and Ethan Linkner who were awarded “Most Promising Startup” – culminating this daylong event that brought together leaders in the startup entrepreneurism space.

In addition to the recognition as “Most Promising” midwest startup, LearnCore won a package of services and funding valued at $10,000 – including $5,000 in cash from Daugherty Business Solutions, 10 hours of free legal services from the Polsinelli law firm, 10 hours of free marketing services from Elasticity, and a collection of LearnCore branded merchandise from CafePress.com.

The Startup Voodoo conference was more than just an award for Vishal and Ethan. As Vishal said, “Startup Voodoo was awesome. We got great contacts… This should be on everyone’s list for next year.”

You can read more about the award and the event at Techli. LearnCore was recently featured in our Catapult Company Profile Series.

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Symbiosis Health Graduates from Catapult http://catapultchicago.com/symbiosis-health-graduates-from-catapult/ http://catapultchicago.com/symbiosis-health-graduates-from-catapult/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 16:26:21 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3094 Catapult Chicago bids farewell to its latest graduate Symbiosis Health. Symbiosis Health, co-founded by CEO Piyush Kedia (PK),  joined Catapult in December 2012 after coming out of NY’s Blueprint Health digital accelerator (like fellow Catapult alumni Procured Health). Symbiosis Health helps consumers with high-deductible health plans find pre-negotiated prices with thousands of providers–making health care more accessible […]]]>

Catapult Chicago bids farewell to its latest graduate Symbiosis Health.

Symbiosis Health, co-founded by CEO Piyush Kedia (PK),  joined Catapult in December 2012 after coming out of NY’s Blueprint Health digital accelerator (like fellow Catapult alumni Procured Health).

Symbiosis Health helps consumers with high-deductible health plans find pre-negotiated prices with thousands of providers–making health care more accessible and affordable.  Symbiosis Health (the “Expedia for Healthcare”) recently expanded to NYC. In February, they presented at Tech Cocktail’s startup showcase; and last year PK was featured on Bootstrapping in America.

We wish the Symbiosis Health team the best of luck in their new offices. We are happy to move them to the alumni column!

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4 Catapult Companies to Present at Chicago Venture Summit http://catapultchicago.com/4-catapult-companies-to-present-at-chicago-venture-summit/ http://catapultchicago.com/4-catapult-companies-to-present-at-chicago-venture-summit/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 20:12:20 +0000 http://catapultchicago.com/?p=3086 Four Catapult companies have been selected to present at the Chicago Venture Summit on October 13 & 14. Alumni TempoIQ, Shiftgig and Procured Health, and current resident Opternative are among the 30 tech startups to attend this invitation-only event. Chicago Venture Summit aims to bring together the best venture-backed technology companies in the Midwest with the most […]]]>

Four Catapult companies have been selected to present at the Chicago Venture Summit on October 13 & 14. Alumni TempoIQ, Shiftgig and Procured Health, and current resident Opternative are among the 30 tech startups to attend this invitation-only event.

Chicago Venture Summit aims to bring together the best venture-backed technology companies in the Midwest with the most influential venture capitalists from around the country. All the chosen companies met the criteria of being midwest, IT-related startups with a minimum of $1M in venture capital.

Read about all the companies selected in the Chicago Tribune.

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