All posts by laurafurr

Indiegogo Life crowdsources for unsung Chicago heroes

By Laura Furr

1871’s new crowdsourcing partner, Indiegogo Life, unveiled its platform to honor everyday Chicago heroes Tuesday night at the Merchandise Mart to a crowd of 73 startup creators and activists.

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New startup pulls Magic out of hat, analysts fear a disappearing act

By Laura Furr

This past Saturday night around 11 o’clock, 27-year-old Niels van Galen came home from the gym with a craving for Asian cuisine.

Van Galen wanted to make a to-go delivery order to his home in Palo Alto, California, but all delivery services in his area had stopped taking requests at 10 p.m.

On a whim, van Galen tried the new “deliver-me-anything” SMS-based service he had heard about from a friend, appropriately named Magic. Within the hour, he was eating chicken curry for two. Continue reading

VIDEO: Hackers analyze government data for civic good

By Laura Furr

Open Gov Hack Night uses civic-minded data analysis, often known as hacking, for the common good.

The group of some 80 Chicago coders, developers and philanthropists meets every Tuesday night at the Braintree offices in the Merchandise Mart to build systems based off public government data.

These systems aim to provide innovative solutions to social issues ranging from pension reform to problems with public transportation.

The group touts that by analyzing government data, hackers can contribute to improving the quality of life in the city.

To learn more about civic hacking and what it means in Chicago, see the video below.

Photo at Top: Hacker Eric van Zanten analyzes his code during an Open Gov Hack Night meeting Tuesday at the Braintree Offices in the Merchandise Mart (Laura Furr/Medill)

VIDEO: Drone interest takes off as regulation lags behind popularity

By Laura Furr

From the White House to Chicago’s suburbs, from Lollapalooza to Snapchat, unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, have been making headlines.

And as drone technology becomes cheaper with user-friendly photo and video capabilities, interest in personal drone use has taken off. Continue reading

Chicago blizzard takes social media by storm

By Laura Furr

Chicagoans took to the snow-filled streets this week to capture the realities of the fifth-largest blizzard to ever strike the city.

The 19.3 inches of snow recorded at O’Hare International Airport, according to the National Weather Service, inspired nearly 100,000 Instagram photos using the popular hashtag #chiberia. Almost 3,000 Instagrams were tagged #chicagoblizzard as of Tuesday morning.

Some took to the video-looping app, Vine, to share their playful snow days, while others tweeted of both the struggles and the beauty Chicagoans see each winter.

Here’s how some Chicagoans made the best of the blizzard:

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Chicago startups aim to make impact on social issues

By Laura Furr

Chicago’s premiere social entrepreneurship program, Impact Engine, on Wednesday unveiled its new crop of startups aimed at resolving issues from student safety to the demand for recycled electricity.

For the third time since 2012, the 16-week accelerator program, partnered with the city’s tech-incubator, 1871, mentored entrepreneurs driven to create social change and a profit at the same time.

Jessica Droste Yagan, the program’s new CEO, said since Impact Engine’s start it has graduated 15 companies, which have earned $2.5 million in revenue.

“Impact investing is a real thing. It has a presence in Chicago,” Yagan told 275 community members and investors who had gathered. “We have really built a sizeable and energizable community.”

Community members and investors at Wednesday’s demo day said they felt this energy.
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Millennials inspired by Chicago’s ‘Tinder for jobs’; employers doubtful

By Laura Furr

Gionni Crawford, 20, is looking for a job.

A recent graduate from Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Southfield, Michigan, Crawford will be relocated from his job as a cellphone vendor at his hometown Target in Detroit when it closes at the end of the month.

A self-described “hustler,” Crawford said he is trying to land a full-time sales position by using all possible platforms including nspHire—a new Chicago-based mobile job-matching app that uses Tinder’s “swipe right” feature to encourage communication between job seekers and hirers. Continue reading