• June 22, 2013 · 9:00 AM

We are proud to announce the third anualChicago Lean Startup Challenge. The Challenge is designed for early stage startup teams that are serious about learning the Lean Startup process to build a successful venture.  Finalists will compete for$25,000 in cash and exceptional prizes.  We are accepting rolling applications until June 20th.

Over the course of 10 weeks, participants will follow the Lean Startup path to create tangible traction for their startup.  Teams will run experiments to validate their business by interacting with customers and documenting progress with very concise blog posts.

The Chicago Lean Startup will provide you with several tools to move your business forward.  We will teach relevant Lean Startup classes, host networking opportunities, match teams with experienced mentors, and provide all teams with essential startup software like Lean Launch Lab and KISSmetrics.

The Chalenge kicks off with a one day intensive Lean Startup Bootcamp on June 22nd, in which you’ll learn about business model generation, the build-measure-learn cycle, and the how and why of customer interviews.  Following the Bootcamp, teams will receive learning materials, checklists, and access to classes and mentors on a weekly basis.

After 10 weeks, our judges will select 4 finalists to receive extra mentoring, pitch coaching, design help and development support over a 4 week period. Each of the final 4 teams will have the opportunity to showcase what they learned from the Challenge in front of members of the Chicago startup community and compete for $25,000 in cash and prizes.

Applicants are evaluated on a rolling admissions basis. Apply now to ensure your enrollment!



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  • deeann d.

    Wow I was so impressed with the meetup and the quality of the information that was shared. Thanks to the founders of this group for the dedication to help others become successful entrepreneurs. No fluff here either! No rah-rah cheerleading - just here's what we know works - here's what you need to think about and do.

    June 23, 2013

  • Sam K

    Global Venture Builder

    June 21, 2013

  • Zoe L.

    I'm very excited

    June 11, 2013

  • Dave L.

    Hi Martin,

    The Chicago Lean Startup Circle is a non profit organization. Neither of the directors take any money for the work they do. The Challenge is a 14 week, intensive mentoring program that requires the donated time and effort of many people. The $100 entrance fees do, in fact, go towards the prize money. I participated in the challenge last year and the knowledge and experience I gained were invaluable, not to mention it helped me build a business that I still run. I keep in close contact with many of my "classmates" and I assure you none of them have any regrets about the nominal fee they payed to enter the competition. In the lean spirit, we encourage constructive feedback and criticism; if you have any further questions or comments please feel free to email us directly. Julia, myself, and both of the directors would be happy to address your concerns. Thanks.


    1 · June 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Dave, Thank you for replying, but us " Startups " can go broke just applying for the opportunity to " Win " $ to Start up.

      June 4, 2013

    • Joseph S.

      I participated last summer as well and found the experience totally rewarding. I understand the frustration of being nickel-and-dimed for every event I go to, but this honestly was the best $100 I spent in a long time.

      2 · June 6, 2013

  • Deon B.

    ...a $100 refundable fee for a 14 week educational program to help build a startup plus free tools and mentoring?? That's a bargain any way you look at it. No one is making a profit here.

    1 · June 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Chicago Lean Startup,

    I've been entering " Competitions that don't require a " Application Fee " and since ALOT of these " Chicago Tech Groups " are amoungst the wealthiest in Chicago, its just another method of earning income for themselves.

    Techweek Chicago 2013 doesn't charge, and I'm "entered" into their competition.

    World Futurist Society 2013 doesn't charge, and I'm entered in their Tech Show Case.

    I don't see the need to pay $100 for the opportunity to be "Denied" though I know it states on your website that the $ goes towards awards. Really ? I don't believe it as these events are hosted by the same wealthy of Chicago.

    More and more of these style of " Competitions / Entities " are charging $ for simply applying which I believe doesn't stoke Innovation / Entrepreneurship.

    Chicago is doomed!



    June 4, 2013

    • Bernhard K.

      Martin, it sounds like there may be some confusion on the nature of the challenge. It's a 14 week teaching and mentoring program, starting with a one day bootcamp, weekly classes and mentoring sessions, and participants get a bunch of free tools. The opportunity to win cash is really secondary to the main purpose - helping you build your business. As far as the $100 fee, we put that in place last year to help ensure that people would take it seriously - when people pay for something, they tend to participate. That money goes straight towards the prizes, and if your application is not accepted, the money gets refunded to you. If you feel that the challenge is not something you would get value from, then you don't have to apply. In any case, good luck with your startup, and let us know how we can help!

      2 · June 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I appreciate the replies, but I, like many others, can't afford to pay for each and every prospective event when we've done all the hardwork: I've Patented my SDR Device that is the equal of a majority of Motorola Solutions, Motorola Mobility, Motorola Venture Portfolio Companies, and the recently announced Special Temporary Authority Google asked of the FCC. Per my website,, you will see me exhibiting the WindyCitySDR Patented SDR device to the Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt. Thank you for your replies, but I can't afford to spend $ with a " Maybe " as a result. We had to post $500 for Techweek Launch 2013 as well. :-(

      June 5, 2013

  • Carolyn

    Why a team of two?

    May 30, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sorry Carolyn, try this link. http://www.cofounders...­

      June 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Please feel free to contact me directly! [masked]

      June 4, 2013

  • Deon B.

    Looking forward to it. If anyone seeks a Cofounder for their startup, check out the CoFounders Wanted Chicago Meetup Group.

    2 · May 30, 2013

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