A Snapshot of Chicago’s Tech Scene and Culture

With the first ever Conversion Conference in Chicago only a few months away, we thought we’d write a short post on the Windy City’s awesomeness so you know why we’re excited to be there. Granted, Chicago has been the center of much media attention lately so some of these things may not be new to you. But if your memory of Chicago is as one of America’s industrial epicentre, then read on and discover how the city has been impacted by the winds of [internet] change.

“High Tech Heaven”

In an article last year, ABC News Reporter Peter Dizikes called Chicago the “high tech heaven,” citing the rapid growth of the city’s high tech industry. The prominence of Chicago’s tech start-up community has also compelled many writers to portray the city as a Silicon Valley contender. But don’t be quick to dismiss claims about Chicago’s tech industry as hot air: the Windy City has been enjoying surges in tech and internet-related jobs and investments recently, which are bolstering not only the city’s economy but also its status as a tech hotspot in the country. Unsurprisingly, startups such as Groupon and GrubHub have emerged as the poster children of Chicago’s successes in the tech economy (although Groupon’s difficulties with its IPO filings in the SEC are inspiring some folks to search for another, less embattled poster child) .

“Midwestern Practicality”

Despite the media hype surrounding Chicago’s ascent in the high tech and internet world, entrepreneurs and employees alike attest to the persistence of traditional or more conservative corporate values in Chicago-based companies. For instance, Lightbank venture capitalist Paul Lee observes that “CEOs in Chicago tend to focus closely on their business plan (unlike Silicon Valley CEOs, who tend to focus on honing their product and user experience).” Whereas failure is seen in Silicon Valley as an acceptable part of the business cycle, Chicago-based companies may not dismiss failure as easily and may in fact be disheartened in their ventures. However, the dominance of old-school values also influence companies to exhibit more loyalty to their vendors and customers.

Don’t get us wrong, Chicago’s conservative values don’t necessarily equate to it being a boring, gloomy place. On the contrary, it is home to a really vibrant startup community – one that has thrived precisely because of the practical-minded nature of its citizens.

Outside the Tech World

The tech industry is not the end-all and be-all of existence in the Windy City. Chicago also boasts of a flourishing music and arts scene. If you’re looking for something to see or do before or after Conversion Conference, you won’t have a hard time finding festivals, art exhibits, and music concerts especially since Chicago is celebrating its 175th birthday.

Yes, Chicago rocks! Join us as we bring conversion optimization best practices from around the world to Chicago and also learn some home-grown CRO techniques from the best and the brightest minds in the Windy City.

What other awesome things about Chicago do you like? Feel free to add them to our list!

P.S. Register for Conversion Conference Chicago 2012 and save up to $500 through our Early Bird Rates. Hurry, this offer is good till May 11th only.

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