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July Accelerator 2019 Recap

Two weeks ago, we kicked off the first intensive of our 2019 accelerator program for our third cohort of portfolio companies. This amazing group exceeded our expectations through their unending curiosity, unbridled enthusiasm, and desire to build community within the cohort. We spent the week thinking critically about our collective roles in the current political environment and how to best prepare for 2020. 

Our first accelerator intensive was a deep dive into the business of politics. The progressive political market is unique and our curriculum guides founders on operating a for-profit business with an impact-focused mission. We focused on the political climate and thinking about how to maximize our political impact.  We later studied the progressive tech ecosystem and introduced our founders to representatives from major progressive political tech organizations such as the DNC Tech Team, NGP VAN, Democratic Data Exchange, Shadow Inc, TargetSmart, and Civis Analytics. Our founders learned the ins and outs of product management and prototyping in the political space with sessions from Sidewalk Labs and 8th Light, and we rounded out the week with an inspiring keynote address from David Axelrod.

The week was busy with workshops, speaker panels, and one-on-one office hours, but we had fun too! Our evenings included an architectural boat tour (complete only with deep dish pizza), a Chicago Political Tech Community Happy Hour hosted by 270 Strategies, and dinner with Chicago startup legend, Logan LaHive

In traditional HGL fashion, each of our speakers participated in our extra special Speaker Appreciation ritual, which includes a tunnel of high-fives and the Chicago Bulls starting line-up music. But, we’d like to give one more shout out to those who joined us:

  • Jeremy Bird, Partner, 270 Strategies
  • Bianca Mounce, The Movement Cooperative
  • David Kurtz, DigiDems
  • Darrell Scott, PushBlack
  • Alex Niemczewski, CEO and Co-Founder, BallotReady
  • Nellwyn Thomas, CTO, DNC
  • John Lee, CTO, NGP VAN
  • Lindsey Schuh Cortes, CEO, Democratic Data Exchange
  • Bryan Whitaker, CIO, TargetSmart
  • Haley Adams, Senior Solution Architect, Civis Analytics
  • Gerard Niemira, CEO, Shadow Inc.
  • Todd Harris, Applied Data Science Manager, Civis Analytics
  • Prem Ramaswami, Head of Product, Sidewalk Labs
  • Veronica Pinchin, Director of Product, Sidewalk Labs
  • Abby Witt, Partner, The Arena
  • Sadia Iqbal, Director of Analytics, 270 Strategies
  • Rachel Campbell, VP of Creative Strategy, Do Big Things
  • Eva PenzeyMoog, Lead Designer, 8th Light
  • Adam Berk, Faculty, Lean Startup Co.
  • Jason Kunesh, Director of Design, City of Chicago
  • Heather Corallo, VP of Consulting Services, 8th Light
  • Alexa Albanese, Lead Designer, 8th Light
  • David Axelrod, Director, University of Chicago Institute of Politics
  • Michiah Prull, CEO, Avalanche Strategy

This cohort of founders is incredibly engaged. We are excited to welcome them into the HGL family and to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 2020 cycle together. Many thanks to our gracious host for this week (and in August) – 8th Light! We can’t wait to reconnect with everyone next month back in Chicago!