Published August 11th, 2014 by

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 Chicago  - Chicago’s entpreneurial hub for digital startups

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.

TechNexus – Venture Collaborative -

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.

Chicago Creative Spaces

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.

Printing

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.

Furniture

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

 

Published July 16th, 2014 by

Chicago, being one of the most densely populated cities in the U.S., is a massively influential cultural hub – known for its phenomenal tinges of jazz and blues throughout the years, as well as a heavy thespian presence and a sizeable reliance upon tourism through its wonderful architectural achievements; it’s a metropolis of thousands of different inspirations culminating in a fantastic unity.

It makes sense, then that its culinary quarters are no different. Not only are there hundreds of fantastic restaurants, bars and clubs (open to crazy hours of the day and night, mostly), but an incredibly multi-faceted ethnic string of eateries, citywide, for Chicagoans to choose from. A veritable tapestry of the world sitting right on their doorstep.

But where to start? With so much on offer and so many tastes to choose from, it’s nearly impossible to decide on an origin point for a voyage of discovery. Continue on for the must read guide of Chicago’s best ethnic restaurants on offer, today!

 

Best Chicago Restaurants - Navy Pier

Navy Pier Chicago

Assorted multi-cultural food courts

Before delving into the list of eating institutions dotted around the fair city; it needs to be noted that Chicago possess lots of world food markets, for any and all wanting to try a taste of somewhere exotic – and even taking home some elements for their own kitchens.

-          Chicago French Market

A good place to start is the French market, located in the MetraMarket, filled with restaurants, cafes and ingredients stalls (ChicagoNow.com).

 

Location: 131 North Clinton Street

 

-          Eataly

This cleverly named court specialises in all things Italian. A massive area (63,000 square foot) – customers are gifted a map upon entering, to make sure they get the most from their experience (ibid).

 

Location: 43 East Ohio Street

 

-          Super H-Mart

The Super H-Mart is filled to the rafters with Asian influence; both a massive Korean grocery store and an assortment of food stalls serving up Japanese, Chinese and Korean delicacies make this one of the hottest market spots in the city.

 

Location: 801 Civic Centre Drive

 

Markets are not for everybody, however, and can often be something of a maze for the uninitiated or those looking to try a specific ethnicity for the first time. For any and all wishing to be a little less daring, and a little more indulgent, take note of the following list of exquisite restaurants throughout the city.

 

Won Kow restaurant

One of the oldest operating Chinese eateries in Chicago’s Chinatown district, Won Kow offers up incredibly affordable, authentic Chinese cuisine from 9 am – 3pm daily – an excellent spot to take in not only some great food, but some rustic culture, too (Frommers.com).

Location: 2237 South Wentworth Avenue, 312-842-7500

 

El Milagro Tortilleria

Found in the city’s Mexican food quarter (La Villita), El Milagro Tortilleria is one of the first restaurants to grab hold of your nose on the way in. Boasting very affordable yet tasty and authentic tortillas, El Milagro is an important establishment in the important area, with strong ties to the immigrant background of Chicago, and a popular location for many of the Latino neighbourhoods surrounding the area (ChooseChicago.com).

Located: 3050 West 26th Street.

 

Irazu (Costa Rican) restaurant

Offering something a little different on the city’s streets, Irazu serves up delicious old fashioned chicken burritos from a family orientated business background. Since the 1990s, the place has become something of an institution, marking it as one of the most popular spots for alternative dining in the city – and a dream come true for the family behind the cuisine (Chicago-Eater.com; IrazuChicago.com).

Located: 1865, North Milwaukee Avenue, 773-252-5687

 

Fogo De Chão

A popular location for Brazilian food, Fogo De Chão Steakhouse offers some of the best in the country’s taste influences for an affordable price. Reviews on TripAdvisor show a certificate of excellence, awarded this year, to the restaurant and an exceedingly positive degree of feedback from customers who tried the restaurant out (UrbanSpoon.com; TripAdvisor.co.uk).

You’ll be hard pushed to find something as quintessentially Brazilian, affordable and simply good in the great city as Fogo De Chão.

Location: 661 North LaSalle Boulevard, 312-932-9330

Cumin

This unassuming, yet tightly professional and bona fide Indian restaurant is a standout spot for those looking for delicious curries from a variety of different locations and influences. The restaurant’s goal is simple: to give you the absolute best that India as a whole, and the Himalayas, has to offer when it comes to food (Cumin-Chicago.com).

A veritable rainbow of exquisite inspirations -  Cumin is easily one of the ‘must visit’ locations in Chicago’s food scene (Chicago-Eater.com).

Location: 1414 North Milwaukee Avenue, 773-342-1414

 

Aroy

Aroy, translated from its Thai origins, means ‘delicious’; little else needs to be said. This spot is one of the best when it comes to sourcing thoroughly good Thai food in Chicago, with a vibrant selection of curries, noodles and altogether more special dishes that will surprise even the most cultured of palettes (Wbez.org).

Location: 4654 North Damen Avenue, 773- 275-8360

 

Salam

This adroitly affordable Middle Eastern restaurant stands out from the crowd chiefly due to its delicious food: low price ratio. For example, customers need pay less than a quarter for some carefully created falafel (Timeout.com).

Of course, there is a great selection of meat-based foods on offer, with daily specials usually concerning minced lamb and sumptuous kibbeh. For a true taste of the Middle East, you can do little better without jumping on a plane.

Location: 4636 North Kedzie Avenue, 773-583-0776

 

 

Clear to see, is that Chicago is a city which is deservedly, and overwhelmingly proud of its multicultural status. Not only does it boast a spectacular confluence of different ethnicities amongst its populace, its art and its neighborhoods – but also in its culinary faculties, dotted around the sprawling city.

With so much to choose from, those living in, or even just visiting Chicago are spoiled for choice with an entire planet’s worth of lovingly prepared, historically tempered and absolutely delicious cafes, markets and restaurants merely a stone’s throw, or bus ride away.

 

References

ChicagoNow.com (2014).  Ethnic Food in Chicago: Top 5 Gobal Food Courts and Marketplaces. Available: http://www.chicagonow.com/raising-world-citizens/2014/02/ethnic-food-in-chicago-top-global-food-courts-and-marketplaces/ [accessed July 7th, 2014].

Frommers.com. Ethnic Dining.Available: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/chicago/755939#sthash.SmiFZqTJ.dpbs

ChooseChicago.com. Taste The Neighborhoods. Available: http://www.choosechicago.com/articles/view/TASTE-THE-NEIGHBORHOODS/979/

Chicago-Eater.com. The 38 Essential Chicago Restaurants. Available: http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2013/07/09/updated-the-38-essential-chicago-restaurants-july-13-1.php

IrazuChicago.com. Our Story. Available: http://irazuchicago.com/our_story.html

UrbanSpoon.com. Fogo De Chão. Available: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/2/12603/restaurant/River-North/Fogo-de-Chao-Chicago

TripAdvisor.co.uk. Fogo De Chao. Available: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g35805-d427766-Reviews-Fogo_de_Chao-Chicago_Illinois.html

Cumin-chicago.com. Home. Available: http://cumin-chicago.com/

Wbez.org. Top 5 Thai Restaurants in Chicago. Available: http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/top-5-thai-restaurants-chicago

Timeout.com (2009). Chicago’s Best Ethnic Restaurants. Available: http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/top-5-thai-restaurants-chicago http://www.timeout.com/chicago/things-to-do/chicagos-best-ethnic-restaurants

Published July 2nd, 2014 by

Here are some of our early entries for some of the best places and people of Chicago.

Food

Pita Inn – One of the finest Middle Eastern restaurants in Chicagoland. There are 4 locations – Niles, Skokie, Wheeling and now in Vernon Hills. Their business lunch special is unbeatable and attracts hundreds of professionals at lunch time from around the neighboring companies and office parks. Their hot sauce is simply money.

Always great service, fresh food and unbeatable value for lunch or dinner. Whether you go by yourself, with friends/co-workers or with family, vegetarian or not, you’re always going to leave with a full and satisfied stomach.

pita-inn-chicago-history

Sports

Chicago Bulls – The Bulls aren’t a typical Chicago sports team. They have an owner who is responsible for delivering the city 6 championships and yet focuses primarily on the profits of the Chicago Bulls and NBA business.

The players and coaching staff, on the other hand, is solely focus on winning. They have their own team culture that may be similar or different to the work culture within the rank and files of the Chicago Bulls organization. It’s clear though, that their mentality, work ethic and team chemistry is the polar opposite of management and ownership. And for teams like the Bulls to still remain focused on winning, even with injuries to star players like hometown kid Derrick Rose, it’s an incredible feat.

chicago-bulls-2014

Start-up

Trunk Club - It’s a local Chicago start-up which provides young men trunks/suitcases of pre-matched and styled outfits from premium brand retailers to try out in the convenience of your home. If you like your outfits, you keep them and pay, otherwise you send it all back. Free shipping both ways.

While the head-to-toe outfit might get expensive, it beats the discount providers like Gilt and JackThreads because you don’t have to pick and choose an entire outfit separately and hope that the sizing and matching is perfect. There’s much less risk and time involved in picking out great styles. You get to work with a stylist and if you’re lucky enough to be a Chicago resident, you can go in the TC offices, have a drink and check out the entire selection/wardrobe right then and there.

trunk-club-chicago-history

Retailer

Quill.com - It all started in a chicken shop in Lincolnshire – northern Chicagoland – where 2 brothers started an office supplies business in late 1950s. They grew it into a large mail-order and B2B company, eventually selling the company and being acquired by Staples, 40-50 years later. Today, the chicken shop is a huge office building with almost 600 associates who support the Quill and Medical Arts Press brands.

Quill.com is now one of the largest online retailers, recently coming in at #30 on the list of e-commerce retailers. While the parent company Staples is closing stores left and right, Quill.com continues to maintain its’ own identity and serving SMBs, education partners, government agency clients and other B2B markets. They were also responsible for launching a full line of Dunder Mifflin paper products and miscellaneous office products. Quill works with numerous non-profit organizations such as City of Hope in an effort to promote Breast Cancer Awareness year after year.  Finally, as a corporation, Quill does its’ part in promoting eco-friendliness and consistently recycles millions of ink and toner cartridges, allowing their customers to cash in every time they turn a used cartridge in.

City_of_Hope

Summertime Activity

Jet Ski Chicago - There are very few summer activities as cool, fun and reinvigorating as jet skiing during summertime Chi on Lake Michigan. From time to time, you’ll see Groupon deals on jet skiing, boat rentals and architectural tours but the Jet ski deals are the best to take advantage of. Usually they go for about $35 for a half-hour rental, which is almost 60% off the regular price.

The waves are usually always perfect on the sunnier mornings and afternoons to get some great jumps and to fly at 50 mph consistently. The views from the water of the Chicago skyline are also spectacular.

Apparently, there’s a new flyboarding concept that came to Chicago recently and we’re excited to check that out this summer.

chicago jet skiing

Rooftop Bar

Worth noting, the rooftop at the Lincoln Hotel – JParker – one of the most relaxing and chill spots in the city. You can go there during the days or at nights throughout the summer. Check out the Anti-Hero Revolution beer while you’re out there.

j parker chicago

 

That’s all for now, check back for round 2 later.