Mar 22, 2022 - Business

Chicago tech seeks to diversify

Photo of a phone with the word Cameo on the screen.
Chicago startup Cameo was named one of the best places to work in a new Forbes ranking. Photo: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We reported that 2021 was a big year for Chicago tech, but this year might already be bigger.

  • In just over three months, 2022 has attracted more investors, new startups and a pledge for more diversity and equity.

Why it matters: The local tech industry has over 2,000 startups, making Chicago the eighth-largest tech employer in the U.S., per a 2021 report.

  • We produced 12 unicorns — a company valued at over $1 billion — in 2021. Just this month, freight technology company Loadsmart joined the list.

Other startups to watch in 2022:

Protégé, a site that lets you pitch business ideas to celebrities, already has Lionel Richie and Will Smith as investors.

💻 Dscout helps companies better understand their customers through its video research platform and has raised over $80 million.

🩺 TimeDoc just raised a $45.5 million Series B funding round to help primary care physicians better manage patients.

🤳🏽 Cameo is one of Chicago's well-known startups. According to Forbes, it's also one of the best places to work.

Yes, but: A new study says that post-pandemic, more Americans are looking to work for established businesses rather than unproven startups.

  • The struggle to attract and retain talent is one of the reasons why Chicago:Blend is launching an initiative to diversify talent.
  • The program is designed to help aspiring venture capital professionals from underrepresented backgrounds break into the business through a fellowship program that promises to position them for full-time roles in the industry.

Of note: The VC industry in Chicago is 78% white and 66% men.

What they're saying: "2022 is on track to be another big year for Chicago tech," Chicago:Blend executive director Joey Mak tells Axios.

  • "Prioritizing diversity and inclusive growth within our tech and VC sector is not only the right thing to do, but it can also be a competitive advantage for the region, enabling us to attract and retain the best talent."
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