Best Tech Startups in Chicago, Ranked

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 4, 2021

Chicago is the 3rd-largest city in the U.S. by population and is a major business hub, so it's no surprise that it has some of the best tech startups around.

Chicago has a booming population and a vibrant startup community. Also, platforms such as 1871 – a hub geared at mentoring and supporting startups – are becoming more available. Take a look at the top 10 tech startups to watch in Chicago this year.

1. Best Health Tech Startup: PatientIQ, Founded 2016


Hospitals have become a more dangerous place, and the threat of infection from person-to-person contact is high. PatientIQ has the solution to prevent such interactions. The startup has a cloud-based platform for collecting patient data and performing analyses. 

Healthcare providers can automate feedback capture, as well as built studies straight from the PatientIQ platform. Those healthcare providers wishing to conduct customized research on patient outcomes should find PatientIQ quite helpful. 

The startup is highly scalable into a global player in the health tech sector. Perhaps this is the reason why notable institutions such as Stanford Medicine and Wexner Medical Center chose to collaborate with PatientIQ.

2. Best Real Estate Tech Startup: Cohesion

Making buildings intelligent is Cohesion's primary goal. The startup leverages the internet of things (IoT) technology to "integrate systems, streamline operations and connect communities for property owners, managers, and tenants." 

Cohesion's IoT platform offers solutions such as access control, HVAC management, communications, and amenity reservations, among others. The startup is already servicing about 2.2 million square feet of Class A office spaces in the city, with the potential to scale internationally.  

3. Best Education Startup: Black Spectacles


Every profession has licensing exams that must be passed before starting a career. For architects in the U.S., the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) serves as the assessment for would-be architects. 

According to PPI2PASS.COM, a licensure exam provider, ARE exams are complicated. The pass rate rarely goes past 70%. Black Spectacles aims to change that.

Established in 2010, Black Spectacles providers users with resources to help them perform better on the ARE. This online learning platform offers prep materials for ARE, in addition to career insight and a software curriculum. Black Spectacles has the green light from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) to test ARE 5.0 across all divisions. 

4. Best Logistics Startup: Forager


Forager recognized the significance of logistics in the daily lives of millions of people and built a digital marketplace for trucking companies and their customers.

Forager calls the marketplace SCOUT by Forager. SCOUT provides a platform that matches a shipper's freight with carriers who can transport it. Shippers can price, book, and track their freight while carriers have the option of instant booking or bidding on those available loads. Forager's primary market is the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Forager has raised $15 million to date to expand the operationalization of SCOUT. The platform also enables real time tracking of products in transit across North America.

5. Best Mental Health Startup: Actualize Therapy


4 in 10 U.S. adults have mental health problems.The disconnect between mental health and full-body health is a misperception Actualize Therapy is battling through its suite of apps.

Actualize Therapy hopes to deliver mental healthcare to patients across the country via smartphones. The apps work on principles and mechanisms developed from the Northwestern University's Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies' research. 

Users have access to a coach and a physician who guides them through anxiety or depression. So far, Actualize Therapy has $1.5 million in venture capital funding, and the startup boasts influential industry partners. 

6. Best Cryptocurrency Trading Startup: Beaxy Exchange


The team behind Beaxy Exchange thinks that cryptocurrencies have the potential to become a mainstream investment vehicle. In June 2017, Beaxy Exchange launched with a user base of 60,000 traders who signed up before launch. 

Coinbase and other major players in the sector feature inadequate order types and a host of other restrictions. Beaxy Exchange, on the other hand, offers 9 order types to users from 43 U.S. states. After a little more than 3 years in operation, Beaxy has a presence in 185 countries. 

7. Best Energy Brokerage Startup: BrokerX


The general assumption out there is that energy brokers do nothing but sell and make money all day. The truth is that some brokers spend long hours on end staring at Excel spreadsheets on their computer screens. 

BrokerX is among the best tech startups in the global energy trading market in Chicago. Its flagship product is an energy broker platform that automates antiquated operations and processes. 

The platform runs on the cloud and allows for on-the-go access. Some of the features hard-coded into the platform include automated customer relationship management, a pricing engine, and a suite of analytics functionalities. Finally, energy brokers can focus on more important tasks so that they close deals faster

8. Best Blockchain Startup: bloXroute Labs


Blockchain is taking over the world by storm. The technology gained currency as the infrastructure on which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies operate. But beyond cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology could streamline processes in the logistics, healthcare, and transport sector.

The team at bloXroute Labs believes it has a solution to help blockchain scale up. Founded in 2017, bloXroute's flagship product is the Blockchain Distribution Network (BDN). The network leverages a global network of services to enable blockchain networks to communicate fast. 

There is a public bloXroute API through which nodes can access the network. The primary issue that the BDN platform addresses are the transaction speeds of blockchain networks. According to the bloXroute team, the BDN should help to push the throughput of blockchains to up to several thousand per second.

9. Best Big Data Startup: Ocient


Ocient recognizes that data is the oil of the 21st century. As more companies rush to collect and manage data, volume is growing quickly. At this rate, the volume of structured datasets will expand by 800% in 5 years. Ocient is building a database platform capable of handling exabytes of data. 

The performance ratings of modern hardware are higher than ever before, but the software is somehow struggling. The team at Ocient rethought the database architecture that supports the current data analysis systems with a keen focus on speed and scale. 

The platform still runs commonplace technologies such as SQL, but it achieves speeds and efficiencies that far outperform systems such as NoSQL and Hadoop. Ocient's local rankings attest to the potential that the startup wields to take on the world

10. Best FinTech Startup: Evati


Evati aims to teach personal finance best practices to its customers. The startup offers personal finance services to users through a smartphone app downloadable on all relevant platforms. Evati lets you save money in your account and set a maturity date, after which you can withdraw.

Evati’s ultimate goal is to help you reach your most desired financial goals. Your money does not sit idle in your account. Instead, the startup helps you in investing funds. It helps you to build a portfolio based on models from Morningstar subsidiary, Morningstar Investment Management. 

Watch Out Silicon Valley: The Best Tech Startups in Chicago Are Taking Over

This startup list does not even begin to scratch the surface of Chicago's startup community. Innovators in incubators such as 1871 are working tirelessly to materialize ideas into businesses. 

With California's tech dominance beginning to waver, it is only a matter of time before places like Chicago take over global tech leadership. 

Looking for best of lists, like the best blogs for investing or other local content? Check out more of Benzinga’s rankings.

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