Chicago's Top 10 Startups That Tech Professionals Should Watch Out For in 2024

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: July 7th 2024

Skyline of Chicago representing the burgeoning tech startup scene in 2024.

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Chicago's startup ecosystem is thriving in 2024, ranked #15 globally with $1.8 billion in early-stage funding. Key sectors include fintech, healthtech, and logistics with over 1,600 active startups and 12 new unicorns. Major startups like Cameo, ActiveCampaign, and Uptake are driving tech employment growth at 8.7%. Stay updated with Chicago's dynamic startups to capitalize on tech innovations and opportunities.

Chicago's startup ecosystem is in 2024, no doubt! It's the place to be if you're a tech geek looking to make some serious moves. What's fueling this blazing growth, you ask? Well, let's break it down:

  • A killer community of venture capitalists and angel investors ready to back the hottest ideas
  • A ton of accelerators and incubators (like 1871) helping startups take off
  • A stacked talent pool from top-notch schools like Northwestern and UChicago

The numbers from Startup Genome don't lie – Chicago ranked an insane #15 globally in 2024, raking in a mind-blowing $1.8 billion in early-stage funding alone! With numbers like these, startups are crushing it and scaling like crazy.

Just check out these jaw-dropping stats:

  • Over 1,600 active startups across red-hot sectors like fintech, healthtech, and logistics
  • A whopping 12 startups achieved unicorn status (valuation over $1 billion!) in just two years
  • Tech employment skyrocketed by 8.7%, leaving the national average of 5.1% in the dust

As Jennifer Hernandez, one accelerator founder, put it, "The tech game in Chi-Town is on fire, and the opportunities for growth are insane.

Stay plugged into this ecosystem, and you'll be set for success, no doubt." For all you tech whizzes out there, keeping tabs on Chicago's most promising startups is an absolute must in this sizzling environment.

Table of Contents

  • Methodology for Selecting the Top Startups
  • 1. Cameo
  • 2. ActiveCampaign
  • 3. G2
  • 4. VillageMD
  • 5. Uptake
  • 6. Tempus
  • 7. ShipBob
  • 8. M1 Finance
  • 9. Sprout Social
  • 10. FourKites
  • Conclusion: Chicago's Startup Future
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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Methodology for Selecting the Top Startups


Figuring out the hottest tech startups to keep an eye on in 2024 ain't no easy feat, but we got a solid gameplan. We're diving deep into the juicy details from major players like Exploding Topics, Prelaunch, and Statista, plus insights from industry pros.

Innovation is key - we're talking cutting-edge AI, cybersecurity, clean energy, and healthtech solutions that shake things up. But it's not just about cool ideas; funding is make-or-break.

The big money VCs are pouring billions into generative AI startups like Anthropic and Inflection, so you know that's where it's at. And the bigger the target audience, the more room to blow up.

Hot sectors like cloud computing, 5G, and IoT are ripe for startups to disrupt and dominate. With our data-driven approach, we're locking in on the startups killing it with innovation, stacking funds, and striking while the market's hot in 2024.

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1. Cameo


Cameo is the place to be if you wanna connect with your favorite celebs in a totally fresh way. Founded in 2017, this Chicago-based startup lets you request personalized videos from thousands of stars across different industries.

Whether it's for a birthday shoutout, a hilarious roast, or just to show your fandom, Cameo's got you covered.

The company's growth has been insane, with over $200 million in funding raised and a team of 32 talented individuals led by CEO Steven Galanis.

But that's not even the craziest part – recent news suggests Cameo might be expanding to new locations like Fulton, Missouri, and onboarding some wild new talent like George Santos, Baby Shark, and Sophia Abraham.

Talk about keeping things fresh!

What separates Cameo from the pack is how they've tapped into our craving for genuine connections with celebrities. And with a valuation now exceeding $1 billion, it's clear that their approach is resonating.

From AI-powered video editors to exclusive talent partnerships, Cameo is constantly innovating to deliver unforgettable experiences. So if you're looking for a startup that's shaking up the game, keep your eyes peeled for what Cameo has in store – they're just getting started.

2. ActiveCampaign


Have you heard about ActiveCampaign? This Chicago-based marketing automation platform is straight-up killing it! As of 2024, they've got over 180,000 clients across 170 countries, cementing their status as one of the city's hottest startups to watch.

ActiveCampaign's secret sauce lies in their cutting-edge tech, allowing businesses to create personalized customer experiences across multiple channels like email, SMS, and social media.

These guys are on a roll:

  • Funding Success: They've raised a whopping $240 million in Series C funding, valuing the company at an insane $3 billion.
  • Revenue Growth: Their revenue has skyrocketed by over 800% since 2016, with projections to hit $300 million annually by 2024.
  • Team Expansion: They've expanded their global team to over 1,000 employees and plan to hire 200 more in Chicago by the end of the year.

The future looks bright for ActiveCampaign, too.

With the global marketing automation market expected to reach $8.42 billion by 2027, they're perfectly positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for powerful solutions that deliver personalized customer experiences.

Sarah Perez, the company's founder and CEO, summed it up perfectly: "Our mission is to help growing businesses stop losing money to inefficient and fragmented marketing efforts. We're committed to providing our customers with the most advanced tools and seamless experiences to drive growth and success."

With their innovative platform, strong financial backing, and customer-centric approach, ActiveCampaign is a startup that tech professionals in Chicago should definitely keep their eyes on in 2024 and beyond.

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3. G2


G2 is a Chicago-based startup that's been making major waves in the tech scene. Founded back in 2012, these guys have been disrupting the software review game by letting users share their real-life experiences with different business tools.

Their approach has caught the eye of big-time investors like Accel, IVP, and Permira. Their latest funding round in 2023 raked in a whopping $200 million, valuing the company at a mind-blowing $1.7 billion!

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2023 alone, G2 hit over 1.5 million verified user reviews spanning 145,000 software products across 2,000 different categories. That's a massive treasure trove of honest feedback to help businesses make smarter software choices.

And with 60 million annual visitors, G2's platform is quickly becoming the go-to spot for software buyers worldwide.

Looking ahead, G2's future is brighter than ever.

Their innovative solutions like G2 Track, which streamlines software management and renewal tracking, are putting them at the forefront of the software intelligence market.

Experts predict this market could hit a staggering $38.9 billion by 2027, so G2 is perfectly positioned to keep riding this wave. And let's not forget their recent acquisition of Siftery, a leading software discovery platform, which is only going to solidify their dominance in the industry.

As businesses continue to prioritize data-driven decision-making, G2's comprehensive software intelligence offerings are going to be in high demand. This startup is one to keep a close eye on in Chicago and beyond.

4. VillageMD


VillageMD is taking over Chicago's startup scene and shaking things up in the healthcare world. Founded in 2013 by Tim Barry, Paul Martino, and Clive Fields, this company is all about bringing better primary care to communities across the nation.

Their secret sauce? A platform with tech tools, operations support, and staffing backup to help doctors deliver top-notch care while keeping costs low.

  • Rapid Expansion: With 680 locations across 26 markets and over 20,000 employees, they're growing faster than you can say "healthcare disruptor."
  • Stacked Leadership: The exec team is filled with heavy hitters like CEO Michael Smith and President/COO Jim Murray, plus medical rockstars like Chief Physician Executives Dr. Rishi Sikka and Dr. David Hatfield.
  • Funding Frenzy: They've raised a mind-blowing $6.55 billion to date from investors like Walgreens, Kinnevik, and Athyrium Capital. Talk about having resources to grow!
  • Tech Innovation: Their data-driven tech platform with clinical analytics is revolutionizing how doctors practice medicine.

VillageMD is transforming healthcare for millions.

With major funding, a strong team, and cutting-edge tech, they're poised to transform healthcare for millions. It's no wonder Chicago's top talent is keeping close tabs on this rising startup!

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5. Uptake


Check this out, number 5 on the list is Uptake, a wicked cool industrial AI company that's turning all that untapped industrial data into straight fire insights.

These guys started blazing trails back in 2014 in Chicago and have already banked over $253 million from some major investors like GreatPoint Ventures and Revolution Ventures, so they're not messing around.

What makes Uptake so rad? They use cutting-edge AI, machine learning, and data analytics to optimize operations for industries like rail, mining, aviation, and energy.

Just last year, they leveled up big time:

  • Global expansion: Brought their industrial AI game to over 30 countries worldwide
  • Dropped new predictive maintenance solutions that use sensor data to forecast repairs, slashing downtime by up to 35%
  • Got crowned Leader in the Forrester Wave™: Industrial Internet-Of-Things Software Platforms, Q4 2023
  • Grew their industrial AI squad to over 1,000 employees, including 300+ data scientists and AI ninjas

As we head into 2024, Uptake is locked and loaded for explosive growth.

Manufacturers are going all-in on industrial AI and data-driven operations, and Uptake is right in the sweet spot with:

  1. Surging demand: Surging global demand for industrial AI solutions, projected to hit $20 billion by 2025 (Market Data Forecast)
  2. Predictive maintenance: Companies clamoring for predictive maintenance capabilities, with that market expected to explode to "$28.24 billion by 2026" (MarketsandMarkets)
  3. Growing investments: More investment pouring into industrial IoT and connected sensors for AI-powered asset monitoring

With their killer industrial AI platform, top-notch data science squad, and multi-billion dollar opportunities, Uptake is definitely one of Chicago's hottest tech startups to watch in 2024.

6. Tempus


Alright, let me fill you in on Tempus, one of Chicago's hottest startups that every tech head should be watching. This company is a total game-changer, using cutting-edge AI and machine learning to transform how we approach healthcare.

Mind-blowing, right?

Tempus was founded in 2015 by Eric Lefkofsky, after his wife's cancer diagnosis.

Motivated to revolutionize cancer treatment, Lefkofsky assembled a powerhouse team of scientists, physicians, and tech wizards. These guys aren't playing around - they've already raised over $1 billion from top investors and partnered with major healthcare providers worldwide.

But what exactly does Tempus do? Their platform connects various healthcare players, assembles and integrates data from multiple sources, and offers insanely advanced analytical capabilities.

We're talking genomic testing, clinical data structuring, image recognition, biological modeling - you name it. And the real magic happens with their AI applications, which leverage complex models to guide treatment decisions and drive drug discovery.

The numbers speak for themselves: Tempus is experiencing explosive growth, with revenues skyrocketing from $188 million in 2020 to a staggering $531.8 million in 2023.

They've already assembled over 900 million documents and 5.6 million de-identified patient records, spanning genomic, clinical, and imaging data. They've helped identify over 30,000 patients for potential enrollment in clinical trials.

That's next-level stuff!

Looking ahead, Tempus is laser-focused on expanding beyond oncology into other disease areas and validating their AI applications at scale.

With a team of over 2,300 employees, including hundreds of experts in genetics, biology, and data science, they're well-equipped to keep pushing the boundaries of precision medicine.

Bottom line? Tempus is redefining how we approach healthcare, and every tech enthusiast should be excited to see what they accomplish next.

7. ShipBob


Have you heard about ShipBob? This Chicago-based startup is revolutionizing the e-commerce game. Founded in 2014, they've quickly become a major player by offering a tech-savvy solution for small and medium businesses to boss their shipping ops.

As of 2024, ShipBob is with:

  • Over 5,500 merchants across all kinds of industries relying on their services.
  • A massive fulfillment network spanning over 50 centers across 6 countries.
  • $791 million in total funding raised from heavy hitters like SoftBank and Bain Capital Ventures.

Their recent achievements are noteworthy.

Last year, ShipBob raked in a 100% year-over-year revenue growth, proving the massive demand for efficient e-commerce solutions.

They've also expanded their reach by launching new fulfillment centers in strategic locations, making delivery times even faster.

Looking ahead, ShipBob's prospects are incredible.

With the e-commerce market projected to hit $7.4 trillion by 2025 (Statista), they're perfectly positioned to dominate. Their cutting-edge tech seamlessly integrates with major platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, putting them ahead of the competition.

As Dhruv Saxena, ShipBob's co-founder and CEO, puts it,

"Our mission is to empower entrepreneurs by providing the logistics infrastructure they need to scale their businesses and compete with industry giants."

8. M1 Finance


M1 Finance is an all-in-one money management platform that's shaking things up in the personal finance world.

This Chicago-based startup, founded in 2015 by Brian Barnes, has been on a serious growth spurt lately. They recently scored a massive $150 million investment led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2, proving that people are buying into their mission of helping everyone build wealth, no matter their background.

What makes M1 Finance stand out is their automated investing tools that put you in the driver's seat.

With their user-friendly app, you can create personalized portfolios called "Pies" and let their smart algorithms handle the trading for you. No more paying crazy fees or dealing with complicated investment lingo - M1 keeps things simple and low-cost.

But it's not just investing; M1 Finance wants to be your one-stop shop for all things money.

Their checking accounts earn 1% interest, and you can access low-interest loans or margin borrowing options.

They've even got a rewards credit card, so you can rack up cash back while managing your entire financial life through one sleek platform.

With over $7 billion in assets under management as of August 2023, it's clear that M1 Finance is striking a chord with millennials and Gen Z who want to take control of their finances without the usual hassle.

Their recent growth and innovative products are any indication, this startup is definitely one to keep an eye on in Chicago's booming tech scene.

9. Sprout Social


Check this out – Sprout Social just dropped their Q1 2024 financial results, and it's a total level-up! These guys are soaring with a revenue of $96.8 million, a 29% boost from last year.

Their remaining performance obligations hit $290 million, rocketing up by a whopping 54% year-over-year. Talk about serious growth!

That's not even the best part.

Sprout just unleashed a barrage of fresh AI-powered features and 20 new product capabilities that are taking the social media game to a whole new level.

We're talking AI-assisted alt-text generation for images, trend analysis powered by machine learning, and even access to Snapchat profiles through their Tagger platform.

It's like they're giving businesses a straight-up cheat code for dominating social media.

If you're still not convinced, Sprout just snagged the #1 spot for Best Software Product on G2's prestigious 2024 list.

That's right, they're officially the cream of the crop, scoring top marks for customer satisfaction, enterprise capabilities, and overall awesomeness. With over 30,000 brands already on board, it's clear that Sprout is the real deal when it comes to managing your social presence like a boss.

10. FourKites


Check this out - FourKites is straight up killing it in the supply chain game! This Chicago-based tech startup is the real deal, providing insane visibility and insights into logistics operations across all kinds of industries.

Like, we're talking next-level stuff powered by machine learning and AI - the future is now, folks!

Here's why FourKites should be on your radar as one of the hottest startups in 2024:

  • Growth on Steroids: These guys have raised over $200 million from heavy hitters like Bain Capital Ventures and Insight Partners. That kind of cash injection means they're expanding like crazy into new markets and developing game-changing products.
  • Tech That'll Blow Your Mind: FourKites' platform uses cutting-edge tech like machine learning, AI, and real-time data analytics to give businesses an insane level of supply chain visibility. By analyzing billions of data points, they help companies optimize logistics, cut costs, and provide next-level customer experiences.
  • Winning Awards Left and Right: FourKites has been racking up awards and recognition for their innovative solutions, like winning the Supply Chain Brain Digital Transformation Award in 2021. That's some serious street cred in the supply chain world.

Looking ahead, FourKites is set to dominate.

With the global supply chain market expected to hit $37.41 billion by 2025, they're perfectly positioned to cash in on that growth.

And with their constant investment in R&D, strategic partnerships, and expansion into new verticals, FourKites is shaping up to be a major player in the supply chain tech game.

Conclusion: Chicago's Startup Future


Chicago's startup scene is absolutely killing it, and things are only going to get hotter in 2024. After checking out this fresh data, it's clear that Chi-Town is the place to be for any tech pro looking to stay on top of the latest innovations.

Let me break it down for you:

  • Diverse AF: From Hallow's mindfulness app to Fyllo's cannabis compliance software, Chicago startups are tackling problems across all kinds of industries. The variety is insane, and it's fueled by a talented crew that truly gets stuff done.
  • Show Me the Money: These companies aren't playing around - we're talking major funding rounds and crazy growth. project44 scored $397.5 million to revolutionize supply chain visibility, while Tempus raked in a whopping $1.07 billion to advance precision medicine. Money talks, and Chicago startups are fluent.
  • Game-Changing Tech: From AI and machine learning to fintech and cybersecurity, Chicago's startup squad is pioneering technologies that are disrupting entire industries. Companies like Relativity and Signal are pushing boundaries with their cutting-edge solutions.

According to the latest reports, Chicago's tech startup sector is expected to grow by a staggering 15% annually through 2024.

With a deep talent pool and a thriving VC community, this city is destined for greatness in the startup world.

If you're a tech pro looking to stay plugged into this electrifying scene, here's what you need to do:

  1. Network Like a Boss: Attend local meetups, conferences, and networking events to connect with founders, investors, and fellow techies. It's all about building those relationships.
  2. Stay Woke: Follow industry news, startup blogs, and local tech publications like Built In Chicago to stay ahead of the curve.
  3. Share Your Wisdom: Mentor aspiring entrepreneurs or serve as an advisor to early-stage startups. Your expertise is valuable, so share that knowledge.
  4. Join the Revolution: Keep an eye out for job openings at these innovative companies. You could be part of shaping the future of entire industries.

As tech veteran Richard Jackson said,

"Chicago's startup community is vibrant, diverse, and brimming with potential." The future is looking brighter than ever, and if you want to be at the forefront of innovation, you need to embrace this city's entrepreneurial spirit. Get out there and make your mark!

Frequently Asked Questions


What factors are driving the growth of Chicago's startup ecosystem in 2024?

Chicago's startup ecosystem is experiencing significant growth due to a strong community of supporters, numerous accelerators and incubators, and a deep talent pool from prestigious universities like Northwestern and UChicago. Chicago ranked #15 globally, with $1.8 billion in early-stage funding in 2024, showcasing the city's vibrant startup environment.

What are some notable achievements of the startup Cameo?

Cameo, founded in 2017, allows users to request personalized videos from celebrities. The company has raised over $200 million in funding and has a valuation exceeding $1 billion. Led by CEO Steven Galanis, Cameo is known for its innovative AI-powered video editors and exclusive talent partnerships, continuously enhancing user experience.

How is ActiveCampaign impacting the marketing automation industry?

ActiveCampaign, a Chicago-based marketing automation platform, serves over 180,000 clients across 170 countries. The company has raised substantial funding, valuing it at $3 billion, and has shown impressive revenue growth of over 800% since 2016. ActiveCampaign's technology facilitates personalized customer experiences across various channels, making it a significant player in the marketing automation industry.

What makes G2 a significant startup in the software review industry?

G2 disrupts the software review industry by allowing users to share real-life experiences with business tools. The company has raised significant funding, with a valuation of $1.7 billion. G2's platform features over 1.5 million verified user reviews, making it a valuable resource for businesses seeking honest feedback and informed software choices.

What innovative solutions does Uptake provide in the industrial sector?

Uptake leverages industrial AI to optimize operations in industries like rail, mining, aviation, and energy. The company has raised over $253 million and has expanded globally to over 30 countries. Uptake's predictive maintenance solutions use sensor data to forecast repairs, significantly reducing downtime, and their industrial AI platform positions them as a leader in the market.

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Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.