Affordable Chicago’s Incubators and Co-working Spaces
Chicago is an excellent city for starting and growing a start-up business whether brick and mortar or online-based. It doesn’t have the cult-like trends of Silicon Valley or the high price tickets of New York. The business community here is 1, from downtown River North to the Northern Suburbs of Lake Forest.
For young entrepreneurs looking to get started on building and growing their business, they need a work space where they can interact with like-minded people who can provide an outside view. They also need a quiet and productive work environment to keep them from losing focus and instead channeling it towards the grinding activities of a startup in its’ early phases.
Here are some places downtown for you to check out and visit. Perhaps these incubators and spaces can offer you the perfect setting to get your shit done and more.
1871 isn’t about the great Chicago Fire, but rather the aftermath. It’s a symbol of what this city’s all about. Going through shit and coming back out stronger than ever as reflected in the North to South skyline ranging from Evanston down to the South side of Chicago while driving eastbound on I-90.
1871 is about building meaningful companies, buildings and relationships throughout the city of Chicago and broadly on the global start-up maps. 1871 in the Merchandise Mart offers great spaces for designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers and more to come together as a community and help each other grow. For students in college, 1871 also offers the Chicago College Startup Competition to get started right out of your dorm.
Headquartered in the Innovation District, the incubators here at TN also offers a great alternative to renting out an office space. There’s virtual office spaces, huddle rooms, web conferencing and other features and capabilities for startups to get productive.
In general, this is a great site to help you look at all the big incubators throughout the city of Chicago and suburbs that we’re not covering here in this article.
Create your own
If the commute to downtown isn’t viable, if the rates at these above spots are too expensive for you or you just need a social but intimate space, why not rent an office space and simply gather several interested colleagues you can team up with to invest in the office space? A little more effort is required upfront but in the long run, the savings, the independence and control might be just what you need to execute and complete your work.
Here are some office essentials you’ll need to make this happen. If you’re not a big fan of the big box retailers like Max, Depot, Staples and Amazon, try some of the recommended Chicago providers. We evaluate these needs by cost and usefulness in running a business operation.
Laptop or Desktop Computers
Whether you’re a Mac or Windows person, you already know that you need a good computer to help you accomplish your goals. Get a portable Macbook or a Mac Desktop if you’re the Apple person. A nice Toshiba or Lenovo can also do the trick.
Ink and toner are expensive and replacing cartridges is a pretty mundane process. However, at Quill, you can recycle back your ink and toner cartridges for QuillCash which you can use towards office product purchases on their website. $2 per cartridge isn’t much but if you have 10 or so, the $20 when you combine with Quill.com coupons and specials, you can really save some money and apply towards the basic office supplies and essentials and stock up on pens, copy paper and some real The Office Dunder Mifflin products.
You’re gonna need furniture around your space but if you’d like to stay lean and minimal, there are certainly ways to limit what you get so your office doesn’t clutter. Some discounted office furniture for your conference rooms, meeting rooms, break rooms and managerial offices go a long way in creating the office vibe of your choice. Make guests feel invited, associates feel at home and partners feel excited about the work that happens at the office.
Presentation, Notes and Handouts
Investors and partners will always demand you update them on progress and pitch them on new ideas and direction of your startup. For this you’ll need presentation tools such as HaikuDeck to create beautiful slides, Dropbox to store all your files and Magnetic Dry Erase Boards to sketch and brainstorm. For a collaborative work environment, it’s essential to have the proper communication tools. Flip chart easels, stands and paper are also handy. We already have our copy paper but colored paper can make a huge difference in printing visuals. Buying printer paper in bulk is also a good idea to save money as it won’t rot or rip on you.
For the blogger, get your best writing accomplished by first…well, writing. By hand. Seems revolutionary these days, but by writing your thoughts, notes and ideas out loud on a Mead Primary Journal / Composition Notebook, you can then type up your words and edit them simultaneously to push out to your website or your blog.
Business Cards and Appointment Planners
Ya know, the typical office stationary that grows as you grow. You don’t just want to have the typical business card but something nice and well-designed that creates a memorable impression on those you share with. Here are some cool ideas and business cards for inspiration to help you create yours.
You also need a reliable appointment planner. A lot of people use calendars on their phones these days to sync their meetings and events, but you can always benefit from a physical appointment planner and calendar to stay on top of your game. It’s not only a good habit to get into for scheduling but for productivity as well, especially if you plan to use the Pomodoro technique and time blocks on your calendar.
Chicago’s entrepreneurial hub for digital startups
Chicago’s entrepreneurial hub for digital startups