The Tech Madness Bracket Reveal Party

On Wednesday, March 8th, we’ll be debuting the official 2017 Tech Madness Bracket at our Reveal Party at the Chicago Sports Museum.

Here’s everything to expect at the big event…

First, what is Tech Madness?

Tech Madness is our annual, friendly competition to see who the community thinks will be the most valuable tech company in five years. Basically, it’s March Madness for Chicago Tech – we seed 64 local businesses/startups and put them head-to-head, with reader voting determining who moves on to the next matchup. The bracket is designed and structured to do one main thing – to generate excitement and awareness for city’s innovation economy. And it works. The 2015 and 2016 brackets  generated a combined 85,000 votes. So, let’s bring it back.

What’s the Tech Madness event?

The event is the official reveal of the 2017 bracket, as well as a celebration of the city’s innovation economy. It’s also the kickoff for Tech Madness. Once the bracket is revealed, voting will open.

So, what happens at the event?

Great question. The event starts at 6PM and for the first hour, there will be drinks (attendees get one drink ticket), bites, and interactive games. One of the goals of Tech Madness is to use the bracket to gather an eclectic group of entrepreneurs, innovators, and executives together for a night of collision. So there will be lots and lots of networking.

At 7PM, we will offer a brief welcoming and then get right into an explanation and overview of the bracket. At 7.10PM, we will start revealing the 2017 bracket, region-by-region. (The regions will be displayed on screens throughout the venue). During the reveal, we will feature commentary from Chicago Inno staff and several VCs who will help break down the bracket, offering insights on several participating companies. (Each regional breakdown will last approximately 5 minutes). At the end of the final region, we’ll hand out paper brackets to everyone in attendance. We will also have iPads on hand to fill it out digitally.

Attendees will be encouraged to fill out their bracket and leave it at the event. We will then hold a giveaway for all submitted brackets, with the winner getting 2 tickets to Chicago Fest, our big summer bash.

Around 7.30PM, we’ll have gotten through the reveal, with every screen now displaying the 2017 Tech Madness Bracket. So, now it’s live! (And then it’s back to networking, which will continue from 7.30PM – 9PM).

Ok, once the bracket’s revealed, what next?

The bracket lives on ChicagoInno.com and every round is determined by community voting. We ask our readers to just answer one question – who do you think will be more valuable in 5 years – with the company that received the most votes moving on to the next round. The bracket challenge runs throughout the month of March, with readers voting on every matchup. At the end of the challenge, we announce the winner.

The bracket challenge, which has received over 100,000 votes in its first two years, is designed to generate excitement and buzz or the tech community at large.

Who’ll be in attendance?

At Tech Madness, we’ll have hundreds of representatives from the 150 finalists, members from the venture capital and tech and startup communities, as well as a number of people that are interested in and or invested in Chicago tech.

How do you select and seed the companies?

In January, we asked the Chicago tech community to fill out a short form telling us who NEEDS to be in the bracket and why, resulting in hundreds of terrific nominations from the community. We then added another 50+ names to that list based on our own reporting and research, as well as from expert suggestions and input. We then took that list and whittled it down to around 150 finalists.

The goal of the bracket is to have the finalist list represent a complete collection of Chicago startups and tech companies, from seed to Series E (as well as a handful of bootstrapped businesses and public pillars) that, once refined to 64, will make up the 2017 bracket. While putting together the bracket, we’re looking for a group that embodies the range of Chicago tech, in both industry and stage. So, no, the bracket will not just be a list of the 64 companies that have raised the most money, hired the most people, or generated the most revenue. (Sure, a lot of them will be there). But the bracket will also have a handful of companies that we think could get there in five, ten, fifteen years. When assembling the bracket, we’re looking for a balance of promise and proven promise, as well as everything in between.

Seeding, like last year, is based almost entirely on funding, although variables such as headcount and growth will be factored in a bit, too. (This way, we’ll be able to seed bootstrapped companies that are crushing it appropriately). Also, for public and acquired companies, we’ll be seeding them by market cap or acquisition price.

Once again, seeding is not an editorial statement on how we feel about a company. The bracket only works if companies are seeded 1 through 16. And  venture capital is the most accessible, universal metric to use for categorization. It’s also important to note that, outside of the physical placement on the bracket, seeding doesn’t matter. (In our first two years, the Final Fours have consisted of tw0 #13’s, an #11, a #10, an #8, a #7, a #2, and #1.

So, without giving away the WHOLE recipe, that’s how the 2017 Tech Madness Bracket will be put together.

Sounds awesome. How can I buy tickets?

Space is limited for this event and tickets are on sale NOW! (Grab them here).

Thank you to our sponsors!

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