Chicago has proven itself to be a successful startup haven, and there are more small companies popping up around town than can be counted. Some are complicated and tech-centric, but others could have a real impact on your everyday life. And nearly all of them have an app you can download. Check out this list of the best useful startups Chicago has to offer in 2016, and keep an eye out for them before they blow up nationally.
Gesture has streamlined the process of raising money through silent auctions in one convenient mobile app. The basis of their startup is acknowledging how ‘one small gesture can make a huge difference.’ They partner with organizations and causes looking to encourage giving. You can digitally ‘attend’ different silent auctions and bid on items, letting your money go toward a good cause. To date, they have worked more than 4,000 events and raised more than $290 million.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
BookedOut is a multi-purpose marketplace app that helps you get your hustle on. It’s becoming increasingly common for people of all ages to want to earn money on the side of a current job, and BookedOut is helping to expand that beyond driving for ride-sharing companies or nannying in the neighborhood. It focuses on freelancing with a special interest in event attendance. Download the app, create a profile, pad it with résumé-style information and apply for available gigs in your area. You might help promote a new soda flavor for an afternoon or set up a brand’s event. You could even sample products or demonstrate new technology. Once booked, the app takes care of communication, directions, tips, and even payment.
Pearachute is all about catering to your little ones. It’s an app that shows you all the best classes, events, and activities for kids around Chicago. Pay $39 per month and get free access to any three classes of your choosing. They also offer more expensive plans for six classes per month or even an unlimited plan. It’s perfect for the parent looking to get their kids involved in new things. You can use it to find your child’s new obsession or just to keep your family active during the chilly winter months.
AptAmigo is technically an apartment search engine, but it manages to separate itself from the likes of Zillow, Domu, and Apartments.com. Here, you’ll find in-depth reviews of selected apartment buildings in Chicago, covering more than just bedroom count and square footage. Learn from previous tenants about building security, creaky floors, water pressure, thin walls, elevator efficiency, and more. It’s a great resource if you’re hunting in one of their focused neighborhoods, but keep in mind that they’re only present in a select few. Use them to discover building info in places like River North, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Hyde Park, Old Town, and the Loop.
BallotReady sprung up during this election season as a way to ‘create a more informed electorate and strengthen our democracy by helping voters vote informed, all the way down the ballot.’ Their idea is simple: input your registered voting address, and they show you your entire ballot for the general election coming up on November 8th. We all know the presidential candidates, but what about the dozen circuit court judges that need your vote? The ballot is often long and filled with names you don’t recognize and on which you aren’t informed. But at BallotReady, they show a biography of each candidate and include their stances on important topics, public endorsements, and activity in the news. It’s the best place to research before voting and to locate your polling place.
Brideside appeals to the far-flung bridal party. They recognize that while your wedding is in Chicago, your bridesmaids might currently live elsewhere. And weddings get expensive very quickly for the bridal party. It’s not always an option for your friends to fly across the country to try on bridesmaids dresses and attend fittings. That’s why Brideside offers the chance to create a digital closet to share with your bridesmaids and shop together, though you may be thousands of miles apart. An assigned style consultant will work with the bride to choose dresses and colors before mailing them out to try-on.
If the thought of waiting at an eye doctor’s office, picking out new frames, dealing with prescriptions and insurance sounds like a headache to you, Opternative may be your solution. They offer a patented IRB-approved side-by-side clinical trial eye exam that you can take from your couch. It’s all online, and it’s proven to be accurate. Once you take your test that’s guaranteed to cost less than your ophthalmologist’s, you get a prescription and have the freedom to shop anywhere for your frames and lenses. It’s super simple, and they boast a 99.6 percent satisfaction rate with excellent customer service.
Cliq takes the guesswork out of meeting new friends and does the heavy lifting for you. It’s an app that you join with your real-life friends to meet other groups of friends nearby. Once you connect, it sets you up in a large group chat to plan an outing. See a comedy show, hit a bar or find new concert friends. No matter what you choose to do, Cliq makes sure you cross paths with new, fascinating people that are just as excited about exploring Chicago as you are.
CloudSpotter powers SpotMyPhotos, which is a professional photography business you can hire for your next event. But what makes it special is the accessibility of it all. Photographers capture your event, and assistants register your guests with the service. Those registered are then immediately sent every picture they appear in, leading to increased social engagement and event awareness. It eliminates the chore of your guests spending hours scrolling through hundreds of photos without them or ignoring the photos completely. Your money will never be wasted with SpotMyPhotos, and the images will be enjoyed by everyone.
If you need something moved, you don’t own a car, and an Uber just won’t cut it, schlep it. Schlep is a service that will do your heavy lifting. All you need to do is take a picture of the item (or items) you need moving, add a few details, get a price quote and book. Your schlep will be completed by one of Schlep’s trusted employees (they call them Schleppers) and can request with 3 hours, or even schedule up to two weeks in advance. Move anything you like, from furniture and appliances to artwork and antiques. Get Schlepping!
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.