The Chicago Lean Startup Challenge, now in it’s third 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 success of the first year’s competition was greater than we’d hoped for. Despite having less than a month from coming up with the idea to application deadlines for the competition, we had 146 teams enter and raised over $75,000 in cash and prizes. Each participant generated a business model canvas, updated a progress blog, performed problem/solution interviews, ran experiments, validated assumptions, pivoted, reached out to advisers, and created an MVP. Our 4 finalists gave 10 minute presentations followed by 5 minutes of question and answer in front of a sold out crowd for $75,000 dollars in cash and prizes.
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.