Last Friday, the Walker Sands team headed to 1871, the center of the Chicago tech community. On the surface, 1871 is a coworking space, albeit one with a ping pong table. Its mission is derived from its name: just as Chicago rose from the ashes of the 1871 fire, 1871 is leading the way in redefining Chicago and the Merchandise Mart as the tech hub of the Midwest.

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Walker Sands President Mike Santoro addresses the crowd at 1871

Walker Sands hosted a networking event, where we met with tech startups and nonprofits alike. We walked away inspired from the great ideas we heard, including:

  • Social networking for investment professionals
  • Apps for difficult-to-catalogue and discover genres of music, such as classical and jazz
  • A nonprofit that engages local professionals to share their careers and passions with middle school kids in low-income neighborhoods
  • A Yelp-like site that enables sports and music fans to rate individual seats at venues
  • Data scientists who can pinpoint friction points in website experiences, such as why consumers abandon shopping carts

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Over 150 entrepreneurs and their staff attended the event. Check out 1871’s website for more info on weekly TGIF networking events.