Chicago IL – November 1, 2016 – Technology startups flourish in Chicago’s national transportation and logistics hub. Two winners of the recent Chicago Innovation Awards say Chicago offers more support and resources than Silicon Valley when it comes to the huge, economically crucial freight transportation industry — aptly compared to the human circulatory system. Nothing else works without it.
The two Innovation Awards winners are energetic startups FourKites and HubTran, both headquartered in Chicago. The city is also home to tech-based giants like Echo Global Logistics and Coyote Logistics. Both grew here from startups to international players, each doing more than $1.5 billion in revenue.
Venture capitalists love Chicago. According to Pitchbook, an online resource for investors, Chicago has the highest venture capital returns of any startup hub in the US – from 3 to 10 times original investment. Chicago itself is the third largest city in the US and, with a $500 billion economy, one of the largest economic hubs in the world.
FourKites’ CEO Mathew Elenjickal found both talent and support in Chicago. “We benefited from forward-thinking institutions like Kellogg School of Management as well as investors at Hyde Park Angels and Hyde Park Venture Partners, among others. We’re very fortunate to be surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the country,” he said.
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HubTran CEO Matt Bernstein said proximity to working transportation companies keeps research and development focused and relevant. “Based in Chicago, we’re able to work with lots of customers up close and personal to really understand what makes them tick and the problems we can solve for them” he explained. “One of the reasons our developers love working at HubTran is that they’re solving tangible, real-world problems. When we release new code, we get immediate customer feedback and the team can see the value that HubTran generates.”
FourKites, located at 150 N. Michigan, has shaken up the tracking business. Where is a critical shipment? How quickly is it moving? Will it reach the customer on time? FourKites not only answers those questions, but can share the information in real time with virtually any link in the supply chain. FourKites spans the many proprietary systems out there for virtually universal coverage.
HubTran, at 600 W. Jackson Boulevard, is automating the transportation back office. An invisible tornado of paperwork trails every truck on the highway: bills of lading, rate confirmations, regulatory certifications, and more. Billions of freight payments, invoices and documents require expensive, error-filled tracking and handling. In response, HubTran developed a software platform that identifies documents, regardless of their source, and extracts crucial information that customers and shippers require. Leveraging character recognition and machine learning technology, HubTran becomes more intelligent with each new transaction and document it processes. HubTran users operate in a highly productive back-office social network that syncs with both their company’s operating system and trading partners.