This is the fifth 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 5: Intersectoral Collaboration II
By Peter Merc, Slovenia
When talking about innovative entrepreneurship in the U.S. back in Europe, we only hear about all the happenings in Silicon Valley. Coming to Chicago and witnessing this lively startup ecosystem from the first row, listening to the speech of Chicago’s mayor how in many aspects Chicago as an entrepreneurial hub is even more progressive and more successful than the Valley, I started feeling that I am in the epicentre of the world’s entrepreneurship.
To become such an epicentre, the whole startup ecosystem must have solid foundations and be highly interconnected. Hubs and accelerators are without doubt the most important players of every such system. Like banks in the financial system. When visiting accelerator 1871 I felt that everything is possible there. Before seeing this place I was questioning myself, where the so called “unicorns” (startups worth more than 1 billion USD) grow. Now I know.
The fascinating list of pro-bono mentors for startups written on the wall, amazing co-working spaces, list of the future events flashing from the screens, entrepreneurs freely talking with one with another. All this is “usual day at the office” for all the people developing their ideas in the accelerator. Since I work as a consultant in the biggest Slovenian accelerator, now I know that there is a lot of space for improvements back in Slovenia.
Peter Merc is Co-founder/Procurist, Lemur Legal Ltd. in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He completed his fellowship with The Law Project.