(Reuters) – Bernhard Kappe, the chief executive officer of Chicago’s Pathfinder Software, steps up to a dry erase board and draws a crude graph, its slope curves upward. Then he plots a point in the middle to show where the city’s web entrepreneurs stand in terms of growth and progress.
“These things take 20 years to get to maturity, and they’re not linear,” says Kappe, who’s also an executive director of the Chicago Lean Startup Circle, a group that fosters local website development. “But we’re six to seven years in, and definitely in an acceleration stage.”
While Chicago may not compare to Palo Alto in terms of high-tech sexiness, it’s experienced enough high-profile success stories in the past few years – from Groupon to 37Signals to Trunk Club, launched by Bonobos founder Brian Spaly. Now local entrepreneurs and members of the startup community are uniting to help continue the momentum.
And that’s where the Chicago Lean Startup Circle comes in. The group now claims 2,800-plus members, an 18-fold explosion since Kappe and Todd Wyder, Pathfinder’s chief product officer, assumed leadership nearly three years ago.
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