← Back to portfolio

Starting Line

Published on 3rd September 2013

Starting Line is a 2013 text-and-video serial that I produced for Crain’s Chicago Business. It tracked a colorful startup as it participated in the three-month tech accelerator TechStars Chicago, culminating in a pitch to a roomful of A-list investors with millions of dollars at stake.

I met Sam Yagan, a cofounder of Chicago’s pioneering accelerator, called Excelerate Labs, just prior to its first "Demo Day", and decided at the last second to attend the showcase at House of Blues. I loved the mix of entrepreneurship and theater, and followed the program closely over the next two years as it morphed into TechStars Chicago. In 2013, I convinced one of the participating startups, SocialCrunch, to give me behind-the-scenes access to their three-month journey at TechStars, and also talked Crain’s into allowing me to tell the story week by week, and to include video. 

The result was “Starting Line.” The series provided a unique glance inside a small team faced with a summer-long diet of high-pressure, high-stakes decisions—not to mention a preview of the privacy that have increasingly come to define the conversation around tech.

(One asterisk: Each episode of Starting Line featured both print and video components. I shot and edited the videos myself, using nothing but an iPhone and a mic attachment. Unfortunately, however, the videos have been pulled offline, so I’m only able to share the text below.)

Weekly installment header: This summer, Crain's contributor Steve Hendershot is following one Chicago startup team as they proceed through the TechStars Chicago accelerator program and then attempt to close an investment deal that will position them for stardom.