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Organized byPathfinder Software



The Chicago Lean Startup Challenge, now in it’s fourth year, started in 2011 as an idea by Bernhard Kappe and Todd Wyder, Chicago entrepreneurs and organizers of the Chicago Lean Startup Circle. Our mission is to teach Chicagoland founders how to practice the lean startup method in order to create a wave of lasting startups in the Chicagoland area.

Think of it as the opposite of a business plan competition. Instead of creating huge documents and pro formas, you will create minimum viable products, validated learning and pivots. The Chicago Lean Startup Challenge is based on the lean startup by Eric Ries, customer development by Steve Blank and the business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder. The lean in lean startup comes from lean manufacturing and doesn’t mean cheap.

The Chicago Lean Startup Challenge is organized by Lean Innovation Chicago, LLC, with  the great partners of Pathfinder Software and the Chicago Lean Startup Circle.


Thoughts From Past Participants

“I haven’t ever had the desire to join a contest because they typically seemed like ivory tower competitions for MBA’s with lots to say and not much to show for it. This was so much different. In a short time, the challenge pushed me to build relationships in the tech, agriculture, and foodie communities, and to build pieces of technology that I can actually measure and test. The people I met through you and the tips I received were night-and-day compared to the path I was going down just a few months ago. I would recommend to any starting entrepreneur that they participate in this challenge.”

– Traci Schaefer, Farm Fixe

“I have enjoyed learning and applying the lean startup method to our business and feel that no matter what outcome the contest brings, we already won! Cheesy but true! The lean method has really helped us validate our assumptions and better position us for development.”

– Jennifer Thomas Founder, Travel720

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