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The year ends on a high note for the Chicago startups scene. If this year’s Chicago tech news is any indication, the Windy City could be the country’s next big marketing tech capital.
With $88 million raised in October and $67 million in November, investors are betting on Chicago’s talent and resources. We’re especially interested in the focus on marketing tech and big data investments taking place. Here’s what we learned from a recent Built in Chicago report.
Big Data, Marketing Tech Get Big Investments
KnowledgeHound may be small, but their data is big. The 11-person firm specializes in companies “fully utilize market research spending” by digging deeper into the data those companies already have. KnowledgeHound is taking the next step, with $2.7 million in Series A funding in hand, and plans to double its team size and develop new tools to glean insights from more complex data, according to the report.
ItemMaster is a firm that helps companies stay on top of their marketing brand assets. To date, it host assets in the cloud for more than 5,000 brands, making it easier for those companies to have access to their most up-to-date assets for online or in-store usage needs. ItemMaster also secured a successful Series A, securing $7.5 million in November from Edison Partners and Chicago Ventures. The report says the startup will use the funds for increased hiring, as well as get a place of its own. ItemMaster has said it will move out of its incubation space in Skokie to a larger headquarters in downtown Chicago.
Another big data firm, Civis Analytics, secured the biggest investment for the fourth quarter, to the tune of $22 million from Drive Capital, Verizon Ventures, WPP, and Google/Alphabet executive Eric Schmidt. Civis is said to use “cloud-based big data tools to make data science simpler.” The startup grew out of a big data project spearheaded by Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. The article notes Eric Schmidt provided initial seed capital four years ago and had returned to help the firm expand — Civis currently has 28 open positions.
Other Startup Activity Is Noteworthy
Other Chicago startups contributed to a strong fourth quarter. VISANOW, which helps facilitate US visa and immigration processes for foreign talent recruitment by US firms, secured $5 million in third-round funding from General Catalyst Partners. Dais Technology, a Chicago firm in “stealth mode” — their website so far is just photos of snowy mountains, was able to secure $5 million in funding in November from undisclosed investors. Little is know about Dais, but the amount of funding is significant. Another Chicago firm, Professional Diversity Network, raised $17 million in funding in the fourth quarter by going public and selling stock.
Yes, Virginia, it’s a good time to be a startup in Chicago. These capital investments are especially heartening, but even more, the investments reflect the quality of the ideas and talent of the city. Many firms are expanding, new ideas are emerging, and soon these businesses will need experienced marketers to connect with customers.
If you’re a Chicago business looking to take the next step, we can help with your digital marketing from our brand new Chicago location. It might be just what your business needs to move a step closer to that next round of funding.