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Chicago Day at SxSW 2024 was Sensational!

The Chicago Day Activation at Midwest House, South by Southwest 2024 was Sensational!

With guest panelists bringing the pop–culture draw like Sophia Bush from Union Heritage Ventures and the National Football League (NFL) Chicago Bears, the Chicago Day activation at Midwest House, SXSW2024 had 3,500 guests packed in the backyard house-party-like venue for very South-by style networking planned around an innovation and venture capital panel series.

World Business Chicago’s Chicago Day platforms partners leading our city’s tech and innovation ecosystem- startups, investors, corporate partners, and nonprofit entities- to highlight Chicago as a leading city for launching a startup, conducting business, and investment on the global stage of SXSW in Austin, TX. 1,400 global visitors attended Chicago Day events in 2023, which is more than a 133% increase this year in 2024 with 3,500 attendees!

Meet our sponsors, partners and panelists

The lineup of panelists and sponsors need no introduction with well known brand presence in Chicago and beyond.


Hot Diggity Dog! ActiveCampaignbrought the Chicago-style hot dog to Chicago Day—don’t worry, guests were able to customize their hot dog fixings to their liking. ActiveCampaign keeps businesses full and focused in more ways than one with their automation recipes.

This Chicago unicorn helps small teams power big businesses with the must-have platform for intelligent marketing automation. Customers from over 170 countries depend on ActiveCampaign’s mix of pre-built automations and integrations to power personalized marketing, transactional emails, and one-to-one CRM interactions throughout the customer lifecycle. We were thrilled to have ActiveCampaign CMO Shay Howe talk about how they achieved successful hypergrowth in a different way than other tech companies in their space.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bearshad the crowd going wild with customizable team swag and an engaging conversation about innovation and connection in Chicago. As a legacy brand and one of the NFL’s original charter teams, the Chicago Bears prioritize their deep roots in the city.

The Chicago Bears Vice President of Information Technology Justin Stahl took attendees “beyond the endzone” and “inside the Chicago Bears’ innovation playbook” alongside Chicago Scholars’ CEO, Jeffery Beckham Jr. Chicago’s sports and arts scene came to life in Austin with a select few pieces from the collaborative, limited-edition RELLO x Chicago Bears fashion collection and gallery activation from late last year. The Chicago Bears Director of Brand Marketing Laura Condella raffled off the exclusive merch to a handful of lucky winners at Chicago Day. The Chicago Bears presence is a testament to the two-way relationship between the iconic Chicago brand and fans, the city, and the business community.

Garrett Popcorn Shops®

There was no corner of Midwest House that didn’t have Chicago-style popcorn fans clamoring for a bag of Garrett Popcorn. Back in the day, it was fans who invented the Garrett Mix.

In the 1970s Chicagoans would come into the Garrett Popcorn Shops® and order a bag of sweet CaramelCrisp®, a bag of savory CheeseCorn®, plus an empty bag to blend the two recipes together! Garrett soon caught on and added the Garrett Mix to the menu… the rest is history! The bags of gourmet popcorn were brought out in batches and instantly had to be replenished.

Nicor Gas

SxSW is not the typical place you’d see Nicor Gas pop up, then again Nicor Gas isn’t your typical natural gas company, and Chicago’s nation-leading clean-energy ecosystem isn’t like the rest. Nicor Gas is innovating and leading in their industry to advance clean-energy. Part of that is supporting the startup ecosystem locally to keep pace with new tech development and accelerate like-minded partnerships.

Meena Beyers, VP of Business and Community development, engages with economic development every day. “Chicago is the place to grow clean-tech, grow business, hire people here, invest capital here-all key parts of growing the Chicagoland region,” she said. On stage with Meena during the, “Solving for the Climate Crisis: One Startup at a Time” was an all women-panel of rockstars in clean-tech: Joanne Rodriguez, LEED AP, FitWel Amb, CDT, Mycocycle, Inc.; Sophia Wennstedt, Blip Energy; Manuela Zoninsein, Kadeya; Sammie Hasen, TechNexus Venture Collaborative.

Midwest House

Chicago Day more than doubled in attendance and scope. Our take-over of Midwest House for Chicago Day wouldn’t have been #MidwesternAsHeck without the visionaries behind Midwest House Ted Velie, Peter Jacob, and Jamie Kirby.

This year the house leveled up with more interactive installations and a full podcast room with Shure Incorporatedand Hawthorne. Shure also brought the podcast experience out the stationary podcast booth with the launch of their wireless MoveMic at SxSW. Midwest House brings the magic of community to gather the region’s innovators and creatives while providing a global stage that defies rustbelt expectations. #FlyOverThis.

Union Heritage

The celebrity draw of the day was the Fireside Chat with Nia Batts and Sophia Bush, general partners at Union HeritageVentures. Union Heritage Ventures is a majority African American and woman-owned venture capital firm focused on making a difference, and not just profit.

Nia Batts and Sophia Bush were in conversation with Nicole McCarthy from World Business Chicago on how they became angel investors, entrepreneurs, and economic empowerment advocates for women. There are major inequities in venture capital allocation and loan access for women. They discussed how “being underestimated can be incredible fuel.”

Sophia Bush and Nia Batts record a behind-the-scenes interview on World Business Chicago social content.

For all who may be experiencing FOMO, and want to hear more insights from the fireside chat, the panels, and keynote-this playlist of all the recorded sessions is for you.

Playlist link:


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