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Abigail Wise/MEDILL

Technori staff and keynote speaker Jason Fried set up for Technori Pitch, a showcase for Chicago startups to share their latest technologies.

Five tech startups share their latest innovations at Technori Pitch

by Abigail Wise
Nov 28, 2012


Abigail Wise/MEDILL

Phone app Just Because lets users give gifts from local startups, including BucketFeet and Rent the Runway.


Abigail Wise/MEDILL

Entrepreneur Jason Fried spoke at Technori Pitch about  solving problems for consumers rather than just selling a product.    

Abigail Wise/MEDILL

Mobile app Ox & Pen works like a rewards program with promotions to local businesses.

Entrepreneurs pitched a job hunt organizer, a gift-giver’s app and a sponsor search for organizations and other technologies at the Technori Pitch, a showcase held the last Tuesday of every month. 

The showcase brings new technology businesses in Chicago to a forum where they can catch the eye of potential investors, other techies and the public.

Meet the enterprises introduced Tuesday.

1. Mobile app, Just Because, allows users to give gifts, such as $50 toward a designer dress rental from Rent the Runway. You simply by download an app, connect to Facebook and post the gift on a friend’s wall. Just Because offers gifts to startup companies and the app spreads the startup love for only $1 per gift. The gift list covers everything from sneakers at BucketFeet to ties from Tie Society.

“Instead of telling my friend about Uber [a car transportation service], I can send them a free ride,” said co-founder Matthew Hartman.

Right now, Just Because is only available for iPhone users, but the company plans to expand to the Android platform soon.

2. Loyalty rewards program Ox & Pen works like a daily deal service without the risk of forgetting about a purchased deal. Users download the app on their iPhone or Android phones, sign up and take advantage of promotions at local businesses, such as bars and restaurants, by scanning a QR code when redeeming the deal.

“Daily deals give a way for companies to market, but they don’t give a reason for customers to come back,” said CEO Andrew Gluck.

Ox & Pen, on the other hand, creates return customers by allowing users to earn universal points for spending, social sharing and rating businesses, Gluck said. The points can be redeemed anywhere within the Ox & Pen’s participating local companies, such as Westminster Hot Dog and reDEFINED Fitness.

3. Swift Expo is designed to ease the way to conference and trade show organization. The software helps event planners schedule workers’ hours and manage payroll. One of the first companies to use Swift Expo cut show organizational time from 20 hours to eight, according to CEO Bob Gillespie.

4. Software-maker SnagPad helps the unemployed organize their job hunts, in an effort to make their application process more effective. The job placement and coaching software creates job cards for selected positions that summarize important information, including job details, contact information and any personal notes. The company will officially launch on December 3.

5. Pear, a website for groups seeking sponsors, connects sports teams and clubs with interested sponsors. The clubs, teams and groups then have an allotted amount of time to earn points by interacting with the sponsoring companies through places such as their websites or Facebook pages. When the points are earned, the group can download a certificate and follow its redemption directions to collect prizes, including custom t-shirts from EA Sports and free event catering from Union Sushi.

“That’s the thing I love about this city,” said Jason Fried, founder of software company 37Signals and the evening’s keynote speaker. “Its startup companies have a long-term attitude.”

Technori Pitch will gear up again on the last Tuesday in January, after the holiday season. Those interested in signing up should visit Technori’s website.