Some companies just know how to make an entrance. Between major launches, stealth exits and early funding announcements, a number of Chicago startups emerged out of stealth and onto the scene this year. These rising stars made the biggest headlines.
What they do: Customer acquisition costs contribute significantly to what consumers end up paying for car insurance. By substituting Super Bowl commercials and expensive mailers for data analytics and targeted digital marketing, Clearcover seeks to cut the cost of insuring a vehicle by as much as 50 percent. The startup, which emerged from stealth with $11.5 million in funding, also draws on third-party data to make the process of signing up for insurance faster and easier.
What they do: Founded by Cleversafe founder Chris Gladwin, Ocient is building technology to help data-driven companies cope with the explosion of massive data sets. According to its press materials, the startup’s focus will be on sets measured in “tens of terabytes, petabytes or exabytes — with trillions or quadrillions of rows.” That’s no small undertaking, but Gladwin is no stranger to scale. His previous venture, which took an entirely new approach to cloud storage, sold to IBM for a reported $1.3 billion.
What they do: Codeverse has developed a kid-friendly programming language and coding framework to teach software development skills to children ages six and up. The startup’s coding language, KidScript, boils programming down to the fundamentals, removing layers of unnecessary complexity. Founded by former Techweek CEO Katy Lynch and Belly co-founder Craig Ulliot, Codeverse has a physical campus in Lincoln Park and is working on a SaaS service for learners across the world.
What they do: Founded by serial entrepreneur Andrew Bokor, whose previous ventures include Trustwave and Exault, Truss aims to streamline the process of discovering and renting an office space. Modeled in part after the approach taken by residential players like Zillow and Redfin, Truss has built an online platform that lets prospective tenants search for a space, provide virtual tours and negotiate rental contracts. The startup announced a $7.7 million Series A funding in August, a mere six months after emerging from stealth, bringing its total funding to $9.2 million.
What they do: Founded by a team of Chicago tech veterans, Kin uses technology to streamline the process of buying homeowners insurance. By drawing on publicly available data about applicants and their properties, the startup automatically fills out the customer's application for them. Kin also draws on that data to tailor its underwriting and pricing to the consumer's risk profile. Its founding team boasts experience from companies like Groupon and Rippleshot, as well as from the insurance industry.