By Ashley Alt
Chicago is known for its fantastic restaurants, epic summers and humble nature.
Those are all good things, but with a humble nature comes a quiet, almost unassuming state of mind. And when it comes to the business world, you’ve got to make yourself known, no matter how modest you might be.
Colin Keeley, a 28-year-old entrepreneur and tech fanatic, is making sure the Chicago tech scene is getting the accolades it deserves, and in doing so, is setting the precedent for what gets people up and moving. Among the tech and startup buzz in Silicon Valley and New York City, Chicago too often gets pushed to the wayside. With Keeley’s popular podcast, the Windy City is finally getting credit where credit is due.
Launching Tech In Chicago was an easy decision of Keeley’s, as he has always been entrepreneurial-spirited and immersed in all things technology. Previously, he launched a personalized TV/movie guide, a stretchy denim company for men and a multi-million dollar software marketing business.
Keeley was recently named one of Chicago Inno’s 50 on Fire and is currently in his first year at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business concentrating on entrepreneurship, strategy and statistics. The Tech in Chicago podcaster has found a fun way to combine his passion for startups and storytelling through his podcast, which has gotten a lot of traction in the last year.
“I love figuring out what gets people out of bed in the morning,” Keeley told us regarding why he started Tech in Chicago. “There are a lot of great Chicago tech stories not being told, and I want them to be known.”
Booking guests by simply reaching out to them and asking has proven successful so far, Keeley says. Most people agree to talk about their products and their stories in a heartbeat.
Continuously on the hunt for actionable advice and interesting stories, Keeley has spoken with a slew of Chicago’s top startup founders and venture capitalists. Some of the heavy hitters include Inventables founder Zach Kaplan, Interior Define founder Rob Royer, Simple Mills founder Katlin Mills and many more.
Common themes from the podcast like what makes a great pitch, how to solve a huge company problem and what the future of retail looks like have shown Keeley—and his listeners—that there is no single recipe for success. Rather, there are many different angles to take when making an entrepreneurial plunge. He explores this concept further in an interview with BuiltIn Chicago.
Telling stories of “life in the trenches,” as Keeley puts it, is what grabs listeners’ attention and keeps them begging for more. Beyond speaking with startup founders on their inventions and businesses, Keeley’s conversations with tech and startup gurus also explore the unique and evolving aspects of Chicago’s tech culture. As it turns out, Keeley isn’t the only one who thinks Chicago is underrated as a tech/startup hub.
During an episode with Jeff Judge, Founder of Bright, Judge discusses why he founded his company, why he’d like to see Chicago tech be more collaborative and the tools he finds helpful in making a distributed team work. You can catch up on the full conversation here.
Maybe it’s the cold brew coffee he drinks every day to get going, the red wine he sips at night to unwind or the books he reads that continues to drive Keeley. One thing is for sure, though: He is someone you’ll want to keep tabs on as Chicago continues to mark its territory as the tech savvy city it is.
Listeners can tune in to Tech in Chicago on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or TuneIn.
On future plans, Keeley mentioned he may want to start his own business within the next year or so, but that specifics on that are unknown.
“I’m exploring different ideas,” he said. “But haven’t settled on anything yet. Either way, I will be continuing the podcast because it’s a fantastic way to learn from interesting people.”