Business Starts with an Idea (2)

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in the Midwest, based on what I experienced at midVentures LAUNCH in Chicago last week. The event hosted more than 150 startups and 1,500 attendees in several days activities designed to showcase a host of energetic entrepreneurs both budding and successful. Amid the flurry of activity, contests, panels and speakers, a number of entrepreneurs struck my eye. Here they are!

There are not many consumer experiences that are more complex to decipher than acquiring a mortgage, at least in my experience. A myriad of choices, rates that never seem to be what they appear to be, fees that come out of nowhere all add up to an experience that can be frustrating. You often wonder, could I have done better?

Mark Pickett of MORExchange (www.morexchange.com) is trying to improve that experience with an online site that attempts to demystify the mortgage buying experience. In particular, I appreciated the manner in which the online application lists out all of the various fees that could be tacked on to the original mortgage.  Simplifying the mortgage application could be a winner in many people’s eyes.

 Have you ever stood outside a restaurant with a big hunk of plastic in your hand, waiting for the gadget to vibrate and the lights to flash, signaling that your table is ready? Me, too! But, as much as carrying that device is a pain for me, think about the restaurant; the expense of buying, maintaining and replacing those devices is significant and operating them can be a pain. While they are a step up from the paper list, there must be a better way.

 Joe Spovieri thinks he has found a way, and I was impressed by what I saw: readyping (http://www.readyping.com/). The solution: an online application that will alert a customer that their table is ready via their own cellphone or other device. The restaurant can access the service via any computer and not worry that the customer is going to wander off with a large plastic device.

 Now, if the previous paragraph did not tip you off that I am foodie, this one will. Don’t feel like cooking? Imagine a place where restaurants, catering services and personal chefs are waiting to take your recipes and turn out the goodies just for you. Such a paradise actually exists and it is called cookitfor.us (www. cookitfor.us).

Conrad Fuhrman and his partners have conceived a site that allows people, “cravers” in their lingo, to input their favorite recipe, and then have “makers” bid on producing the culinary delights. In our busy world, we already have many ways of getting food that is ready to eat, but cookitfor.us provides a way to customize that experience to your own recipe book.

As you can see, I am constantly amazed at the creativity of entrepreneurs, even just in our corner of the world in the Midwest. Here’s to all of the entrepreneurs that help keep our imaginations soaring!

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