photo by Brooke Collins

At the heart of Chicago’s booming start up scene you’ll find a dynamic group of women entrepreneurs who are serving up innovation. These Chicago businesswomen meet up over a noon meal to collaborate, but these aren’t just seven women who lunch, these are “1871’s Women Who Launch.” We caught wind of these weekly brown-bags with some of Chicago’s most impressive entrepreneuristas and asked them to make this a regular series with the City. They came over to the Mayor’s office for a kickoff “Women Who Launch” power lunch.

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The lunch was hosted by Brenna Berman, Deputy Chief Information Officer, and Jamie Rhee, Chief Procurement Officer, two of Mayor Emanuel’s senior female leaders focused on technology and small business. The room was buzzing with excitement as women from places as far away as Argentina, India and Israel joined Chicagoans to share their own stories. They discovered a common thread: The need for female representation in Chicago’s emerging digital startup scene. These women run start-ups focused on everything from how to book a beauty appointment in a hurry, to how to buy kids clothing at consignment sale prices.

From simply meeting for lunch, the women were able to draw connections and support from one another. They discussed some of the stumbling blocks of running start-ups, like the lack of a female tech community, or the difficulties that can arise from trying to appeal to female consumers while pitching to largely male investors. To combat the lack of a female tech community, Sharon Schneider, the creator of Moxie Jeans, felt that more women simply needed to be told that they too could become digital entrepreneurs.

Also on the menu was a discussion about the shift of culture in our Universities. Coco Meers, founder of PrettyQuick, noted that at Chicago Booth—where she and Lotika Pai, founder of Q-It Tech, attended—entrepreneurship is now one of the most popular concentrations, allowing more women to develop business plans while they are still in school.

As the women had their lunch, the Mayor came to join them. They shared suggestions with him and were briefed about City programs that could benefit them, like the recently appointed Tech Diversity Council and possible tech innovations on the horizon. The Mayor also asked for their input on how 1871 could be more helpful to them. The women suggested the addition of a daycare, citing the fact that many women have ideas they would like to pursue but simultaneously need to care for their families.

As the Chicago digital community continues to thrive here in Chicago, it is no wonder that such a diverse, talented and supportive group of women are joining together, blazing the path for future women to come. Want to meet them for lunch at 1871? Get in touch.

Read their full bios here and click below to check out their launches.


Cheeky-Logo moxie-jean one_big_bow_logo qit_logo
Everpurse prettyquick LetsPlayPlease 30secondmom

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