This is the second post in our multi-part series “Global Insights on Chicago’s Tech Sphere” detailing the experiences of our Professional Fellows from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia as they discover more about Chicago’s thriving innovation community, and how it compares to their home countries.
Part 2: On Entrepreneurship and Civic-Social Impact
By Peter Bruner, Slovenia
Coming from an entrepreneurial world, where you earn money with hard work, the Chicago visit was just right up my alley. Coming to the leading business city in the U.S. is what you want as a young entrepreneur, coming from a small startup and even smaller country such as Slovenia. The city of Chicago is rich with all kind of events, especially business events, meet-ups, conferences, fairs etc. It allows you to network with people from early mornings until the late night. Every day.
And networking is business; networking brings or sells business. So, it is my second week in the city and my schedule looks like this…
…from early morning till late. Crazy, but I love it as I meet so many people that know more people and everybody wants to make a good business.
But networking is not just for business, it is heavily used in every aspect of life such as job searching, lobbying, and even for civic engagement.
I now help working in Smart Chicago Collaborative where they do civic tech-related work. I was amazed how they use technology in civic sector to help people. They help people get connected online and to each other. They educate people with internet-related technologies. Chicago as a very successful city has also has a dark side, violence. Education is a perfect tool to prevent violence, it connects people, gives them hope and instead of violence it sparks innovation. Today’s technology and innovation make this happen faster and more efficiently.
But it is not just the tech in its raw sense that is innovative, but people — they are the true innovation. People are joining in various help groups to help others in need. So, for me the most advanced innovation in Chicago is the change of mindset of people using technology in the right way. Chicago is turning its dark side into a powerful machine which runs on diversity of people and creates a cocktail of awesome innovation. Therefore, Chicago today is one of the most successful cities in the U.S.: it leads in business innovation and in the amount of investments even before Silicon Valley! We can all learn from it and implement it in our environment.
One thing is also worth mentioning, which can be culture-related, but still very interesting is charity or fundraising events. People and companies who are successful want to give back to the community. We don’t have this in our culture, but I think it is worth trying.