Home Startup Demo Contests: Not Just For The Valley Anymore

Startup Demo Contests: Not Just For The Valley Anymore

Since we published our Never Mind the Valley article on the growing startup scene in Chicago, I have received several emails about various events and startups that call the city home. The technology culture in Chicago is quickly expanding, just as it is in most major metropolitan areas, because startups as a culture are breaking further and further into the mainstream. As we’ve shown with our series of profiles, no longer is Silicon Valley the one true home to startups; Boulder, Austin, New York, Portland and many others have stepped up as worthy contenders for national (and international) startup attention.

With the expansion of startup culture across the U.S. and the world, more organizations and events once exclusive to the Valley are providing resources and opportunities to a new breed of startup hubs. Taking place later this week is one such event, the midVentures25, a demo event for Chicago-area tech startups modeled after the TechCrunch50.

“Instead of becoming the ‘second San Francisco’, we at midVentures are more interested in connecting technology innovators to thought leaders in art, media, real estate, education, law, business, science, and politics,” writes midVentures co-founder Geoff Domoracki. “We encourage entrepreneurs to meet with thought leaders in diverse disciplines — to realize the full potential of their innovations.”

midVentures is a Chicago-based Web 2.0 venture consulting agency that helps startups through the process of planning, prototyping, launching and growing their ideas. The event, which takes place this Thursday, will feature 25 hand picked startups with demos in an open expo-like show. After a few hours of floor demonstrations, judges will select the five best demos to present on stage and answer questions from the panel.

The panel of judges includes Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, OCA Ventures‘ Jason Heltzer, and Google‘s Head of Technology, Kevin Willer. From the five finalists, the judges will select one winner to receive $10,000 worth of products and services, including consulting, advertising and a years worth of hosting and bandwidth.

“The focus of midVentures25 is to show the national technology and investment community that the Midwest has an abundance of early-stage innovators within the technology, consumer, and sustainability space,” says contest founder Jonathan Pasky.

It is great to see startup culture expanding across the U.S., and events like these mark the shifting weight of focus from Silicon Valley to other cities. Some have argued lately that startups and entrepreneurs outside of the Valley are complaining too much about a lack of resources or funding for their city. While it’s true some cities are less cash rich for startups, complaining about it doesn’t do anything; starting events like these is how you begin to fix the problem.

There is a cultural divide between Silicon Valley and other startup hubs; those in the Valley aren’t as afraid to risk investment dollars on unproven startups, while other cities just simply aren’t as accustomed to this sentiment. Unfortunately, one of the only ways newer startup cultures are going to embrace funding more companies is through time. As the city grows more accepting of startup culture and future generations of investors and entrepreneurs take over, things will begin to level out.

Photo by Flickr user moron958.

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