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Techweek Chicago was held in Chicago from June 27 – 29. The conference and expo hosted numerous exhibitors from the data analytics, software, and social media industries. Speakers came from the entrepreneurial, corporate, and governmental arenas.
The conference held a competitive start up contest called Techweek Launch. The winning entrant was WeDeliver. The Chicago-based company aims to level the playing field for small businesses by allowing them to offer same-day delivery in the city. The company presented their concept as a win-win for businesses, consumers, and the delivery people. Small businesses can reach a wider consumer base outside of their immediate neighbourhood. Consumers benefit from receiving same-day delivery of goods without having to take a cab to pick up an item. According to the company, delivery employees are able to make more money from WeDeliver than they can working for a messenger service.
Techweek hosted numerous summits including FashionTECH, Finance2.0, GoInternational, and WellTECH. At one FashionTECH panel, the speakers included the founders of CakeStyle, Everpurse, and ZipFit. CakeStyle is an unusual fashion retailer as it combines ecommerce with personal styling. After a customer fills out a consumer profile with style preferences, sizes, and lifestyles, the company’s personal stylist contacts the consumer via email to understand what the woman is looking for. Then the company assembles some clothes with styling tips to the customer. The customer decides what to keep and return. ZipFit Denim is an online store with two stores in Chicago. The company claims that it can help men choose the right pair of jeans by using a proprietary technology. Men can answer some questions about their favourite jeans using an iPad at their stores or schedule a one-on-one virtual consultation over Skype or Google Hangouts.
Exhibitors included both consumer and business-to-business service offerings. Among the consumer services was Hailo. Consumers can use the Hailo smartphone app to call for cabs in cities including Chicago and New York. In an industry with minimal innovation beyond credit card acceptance, Hailo and competitors Sidecar and Uber are seeking to provide better, more reliable service than a traditional cab. Product sampling has typically involved contractors handing out free food and beverage samples during busy evening and weekend hours in grocery stores and warehouse clubs stores. FREEOSK aims to offer samples of all kinds including beauty products through a machine. Currently in some Sam’s Club stores, a customer scans the retailer’s loyalty card to obtain a free sample. By using a loyalty card, FREEOSK is able to tell its retail partners who obtained a sample and when. The retailer can then track to see what percentage of consumers who received a sample bought the item.