At SXSW, the biggest challenge for the start-up community in Chicago seemed to be finding technical talent. Any insight on this?
Other than the obvious answers (cost of living/space/lower salaries/etc) do you feel Chicago has any advantages over the traditional start-up meccas? Where do you see the start-up community in Chicago heading in the next few years?
Do you mind if I ask what the other 4 would be (Chicago or elsewhere)? To give a bit more background, I am looking to get into VC in an analyst role so always curious to learn about which firms have good reputations in their support of entrepreneurs.
1. I mean finding technical talent anywhere is tough. A B+ programmer in the valley starts at low six figures. It's somewhat less in Chicago, but still high. I really think that's going to change over the next 24-36 months as more people start training in programming and the supply starts to increase.
Programs like CodeAcademy (here in Chicago - not Codeacademy.com) are churning out an additional 50-100 capable programmers every 3 months which immediately hit the Chicago ecosystem. Those guys aren't A+ but they'll be fast learners and definitely could be part of a team.
Also, UIUC is kind of a dark horse in Chicago. It's easily one of the top5 engineering programs in the country and there is a lot of great tech talent coming out of the school (besides Taylor and Andrew!). Just this week in my VC job, I've looked at a couple of companies which count UIUC EE professors among their staff or advisors, etc.
Overall, I think Chicago (given that it's smaller = less demand, + really good engineering funnels) will have less of an issue on the technical side than the Valley where things are really crazy.
2. I didn't mean exactly 4 firms, but I really think the best fit for Taylor and DraftDay would've been some combination of: Battery, Bessemer, True, Accel, First Round...there are more, but you get the idea. Lightbank is basically the Chicago answer to these firms so it's a perfect fit.