The Startup Institute Expands its Program to Chicago

This article originally appeared in BostInno.

Within a month of welcoming in New York City’s inaugural class, the Startup Institute has announced a new expansion. The eight-week program is taking flight and making moves to Chicago, where a new batch of entrepreneurially-minded students will be able to hone their skills in one of four tracks: web development, product and design, technical marketing or sales and business development.

“What the team at Startup Institute is doing fits incredibly well into the Chicago community at large,” said Techstars Chicago Managing Director Troy Henikoff in a release. “They pull together a ton of moving pieces to make it easy for people who want to work for a startup, and solve a huge recruiting challenge for those companies, as well.”

The Startup Institute—introduced in February 2012 as Boston Startup School—was designed to help train and retain local talent. “We don’t have enough young talent,” Katie Rae, managing director of Techstars Boston, kept hearing. Or, “The young talent we do have don’t know what to do when they arrive, so we’re afraid to hire them.”

So, alongside Reed Sturtevant, managing director of Project 11, and now Startup Institute CEO Aaron O’Hearn, Rae helped hash out the program, which has since landed more than 90 percent of its students with jobs at startups.

“In order to scale beyond a handful of employees, startups need a certain type of employee in every area of the business, not just engineering,” Rae said in the release, no doubt referring to the variety of tracks.

Nearly 300 students have been admitted to the program, between Boston’s first four classes and New York City’s inaugural one. And the success has been undeniable. Thanks to the Startup Institute, one student could say, “At the age of 38, I’ve been given the gift of rebirth.”

When the Startup Institute announced its New York City expansion in March, O’Hearn claimed, “Anywhere there’s an ecosystem investing in early-stage companies needs a Startup Institute.”

Chicago was in need—a sentiment echoed by Brent Payne, CEO of Chicago-based SEO consulting firm Loud Interactive, in the release.

“We definitely witnessed the need for highly-adaptive, creative employees,” he said. “Startup Institute will go a long way in strengthening the employee pool and our community.”