Some of the top Chicago-area start-ups to keep an eye on in the new year:
- Opternative: My 2nd favorite. Eye exams + lens prescriptions online, from comfort of your home (& your webcam).
- Lyteshot: Sounds like real-world/online/augmented reality gaming hybrid.
- ReliefWatch: allows multinational NGOs to report inventory records and disease cases via text and automated voice calls, getting around spotty internet coverage in much of the world
- Innoblative: Alternative to radiation treatment.
- Outernet: Repurpose satellite TV equipment into wifi hotspots, for areas with limited internet coverage, or government content blocking.
- Raise: marketplace for buying and selling gift cards
- Breakwater: $23 million floating island in Lake Michigan.
- Anarchist: My personal favorite. Virtual reality to improve productivity and collaboration.,
- Fan Pay: proposes using crowdfunding to collect donations and pay players, with the idea being that pages would be created for athletes where friends, family, and yes, fans, could donate money
- Keeper Security: a zero knowledge security provider that stores your passwords and digital files in a military grade encrypted vault.
- SiNode: develops advanced materials for the next generation of lithium-ion batteries.
- 640 Labs: The company uses analytics and cloud computing to collect massive amounts of agricultural information and deliver the data to farmers’ mobile devices
- SpiderSense: Another one of my favs – I’d previously heard about this from a professor close to the project. Sensors tell you, physically, when you’re close to an object, etc. It’s a perfect device for the blind, but the company says it could also be effective when used by firefighters or other officials who work in low-visibility environments.
- LifeLine Response: an app that immediately alerts authorities when you’re in danger, and it hopes to soon deploy drones to those same people.
- AMPY: a handheld device that captures your kinetic energy as you move and stores it so you can charge your phone, smartwatch, fitness tracker, or any other USB-powered device. (kicking myself for this one – had similar idea it’s got to be almost 15 years ago ……)