On Thursday, October 12, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law hosted Techstars Chicago Demo Day. Over four hundred people gathered at Thorne Auditorium to watch 10 startup founders pitch their companies to mentors, colleagues and other members of the tech community. As first-time hosts of the event, Demo Day gave the Law School the opportunity to showcase some exciting developments in technology and continue its commitment to advancing the law-tech space. “Demo Day is a terrific opportunity to hear sophisticated pitches from incredibly talented entrepreneurs,” said Esther Barron, Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center. “As the Law School continues its efforts to empower our students to be innovators and creative thinkers, we are thrilled to host such an impressive group of entrepreneurs—including two DPELC clients—and highlight Techstars Chicago, a top accelerator program.”
Techstars Chicago is a three-month, mentorship-driven accelerator program. The selection process is incredibly competitive: over 3,000 companies are vetted, 350 are granted in-person interviews and only 25 finalists are invited to Chicago. Of those 25, only ten teams are accepted into the residency. Demo Day is the conclusion of the program and this year’s event was, as Techstars Chicago Managing Director Logan LaHive put it, “intensely founder-focused.” Unlike other Demo Days, there were no keynote speakers or live music. Instead, the accelerator held a closed Investor Demo Day on Wednesday and the community-wide event at the Law School the following day.
Companies included a networking platform for engineers, a retirement planning service, a retail site for personalized promotional swag, and counterterrorism monitoring on the internet. Two of the selected startups, Allie and Paladin, were clients of the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center. Allie, founded by Northwestern alumna Emilie Hsieh, is a Slack bot that allows employees to safely report microaggressions in the workplace. The insights compiled can later be used by managers and HR professionals to address issues of diversity and inclusion in their teams. Paladin is building a software to help law firms, Fortune 500 companies, and law schools streamline their pro bono work through a centralized portal.
In addition to mentorship, Techstars companies are offered a $100,000 convertible debt note as well as $20,000 in exchange for 6% common stock. Most teams go on to raise an average of more than two million dollars in outside capital after the program.