Chicago Startups on the Rise: kohactive's Picks

These are our bets for 2016 Chicago Startups on the Rise.

We talk to a ton of startup founders, work with a ton of startup clients, attend a ton of Chicago startup events…and build our own startups. We thrive on seeing new ideas and hearing new pitches. Over the last few months, we’ve encountered (in person or print) the five companies below. These are our bets for 2016 Chicago Startups on the Rise.

Charlie Logo


Have you ever thought, “I wish I had more time to research for this next meeting?” Insert Charlie. Charlie scans the internet (so you don’t have to) and sends you a one-page summary on the person you’re meeting with. Simple, yet so very useful.


Description: Charlie combs through 100s of sources and automatically sends you a one‐pager on everyone you’re going to meet with, before you see them.

Deskpass Logo


Deskpass is basically a “classpass” for office sharing, offering. drop-in options to most of the shared office spaces in the city of Chicago. The edge here (since Deskpass is notoriously losing money hand over fist) is the fact that the founding team is the creator of Desktime–the app most shared office spaces already use to book their space. Talk about a natural–and brilliant–next step. We expect big things from this team.


Description: Get access to a growing number of spaces around Chicagoland. All Deskpass spaces are available Monday through Friday. Choose the membership that works best for you.

Peanut Butter Logo

Peanut Butter

Description: Election year could be golden for a company like Peanut Butter. Student loan debt is a major political talking point, and Peanut Butter has come up with an interesting–and simple–solution. They offer student loan repayment as an employee benefit. What a way to help with recruiting.


Description: Peanut Butter helps companies provide a unique student loan benefit to attract and retain Millennial employees. Our service enables large and mid-sized employers to reduce turnover and hiring costs, differentiate their employee value proposition, and help resolve America’s $1.2T student debt problem.

Pearachute Logo


While brand new to the scene, the business model–and founder–are not. A “classpass for children’s classes and activities” makes sense to busy parents or anyone who knows how quickly a child grows from one activity to another. The founder? Tried-and-true Desiree Vargas Wrigley, the founder of GiveForward.


Description: Pearachute aims to match parents who need to find affordable activities for their kids with providers that have seats to fill.

Snapsheet Logo


Snapsheet has been around since 2011, and are one of the few successful pivot stories. What started as consumer-servicing “Body Shop Bids” pivoted to a tool for the insurance industry. And they have big numbers–with over 11MM in funding, and some important backers,we think you’ll hear big things from Snapsheet this year.


Description: Snapsheet provides mobile branded apps to help auto insurance carriers settle claims in hours instead of days. Our self-service mobile app enables customers to take photos of their damaged vehicles on their own time without the hassle of scheduling an adjuster or a trip to a body shop. The customer can view their carrier-approved estimate, schedule an appointment with a body shop or even take an EFT cash payout all from their carrier's mobile app.

Are you ready to create your company? Take a look at our post on what you should do before you start building.