Why are you here and not somewhere else? Be part of Chicago’s growing entrepreneurship and VC scene

Why are you here and not somewhere else? Be part of Chicago’s growing entrepreneurship and VC scene

Well into winter quarter, Career Treks continue to take place. This week, Liz Han shares her passion for venture capital through her experience on the Venture Capital Trek that took place a few weeks ago and her role as an associate for Hyde Park Angels.

Sand Hill Road. It’s one of the most famous streets in Silicon Valley and home to venerable venture capital firms such as Kleiner Perkins and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. It was also one of the places I visited a few weeks ago as part of the Venture Capital trek to the Bay Area organized by the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Group (EVC) at Booth. Over the course of two days, nine students visited seven of the most well-known VC firms in the US, including KPCB, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Accel Partners.

In a whirlwind of 48 hours, we were fully immersed in the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that exists in the Bay Area. In nearly every office we visited, there were entrepreneurs meeting with partners and advisors in brainstorming and planning sessions. To hear experienced general partners and operators discuss start-ups they founded and scaled, and their investments in companies such as Facebook and Amazon, was inspiring to say the least. And all of this was made possible because of the long-standing relationships these VC firms have with students and alumni at Booth, which certainly makes me appreciate being an active member of Chicago Booth and EVC.

While I was awed by the concentration of talent and at times intense atmosphere in the Bay Area, the trek also made me more excited about the growing entrepreneurial community in Chicago and the opportunities to shape its growth. As a current Associate at Hyde Park Angels (HPA) and Hyde Park Venture Partners (HPVP), an angel group and VC firm that still maintain close ties to the school having been founded by Booth alumni / professors, I feel lucky to meet aspiring entrepreneurs on a regular basis to discuss their ideas, business plans, and companies. I found myself impressed by the depth and diversity of the start-ups I learn about and the passionate group of entrepreneurs I interact with through office hours, demo days, and events such as Technori Pitch. Through my experiences at HPA and HPVP, I have seen a rich variety of start-ups ranging from ecommerce to healthcare and everything in between. In fact, one of my favorite places is 1871, a large open working space that is the ideal spot for start-ups to develop and grow. The energy and buzz there is almost tangible, creating an environment in which start-ups in completely different sectors can collaborate and work side by side.

Perhaps there is no better reflection of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Midwest than that found in the microcosm of Chicago Booth. There is an active and open group of driven entrepreneurs that is supported by the Polsky Center and through programs such as the Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) and the New Venture Challenge (NVC). This is a remarkable time to be at Booth and I, for one, am excited to be part of and shape the entrepreneurship and VC community at Booth and in Chicago.

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