1871 is a leading center for technology and entrepreneurship. But as a hub for award-winning content, it needed a way to provide access to knowledge beyond its walls, while building institutional memory. So it turned to BigMarker to take its workshops online.
Founded in 2012, 1871 was created to support Chicago's digital startup community. Since that time, it has become the hub for the city's thriving technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Serving over 400 early-stage, high-growth digital startups, 1871 partners with leading VCs, universities, and corporations to bring knowledge, skills, and support to the region's most promising companies and the community as a whole. Skills are built primarily through in-person workshops led by 1871's programming team. But in-person sessions faced a set of challenges: (1) companies are increasingly mobile, with founders running between meetings and customer sites; (2) members of the community can't always make it to campus; and (3)1871 needed a way to build institutional memory, so the insights shared in its award-winning programming could benefit entrepreneurs for years to come.
"BigMarker has made virtualizing our in-person workshops easy and seamless. We create events, include links in our newsletter, people join from across town (and occasionally from around the world), and we record everything. Our vision is to leverage the great content being produced to create curated tracks for our members."
- George V., SVP Programming
Shortly after1871's Programming team began producing weekly workshop sessions, they approached BigMarker to create a virtual option. Now, for many of its great in-person workshops, on topics ranging from whether to set up as a C-Corp or an LLC, to raising funding, to applying for a patent, workshops are streamed to a live audience of members who can't make it in person. They're structured to be interactive, so attendees can answer polls/quizzes, raise their hand to ask a question, or engage in a live chat, regardless of whether they're in the room or at home. Finally, because 1871 records these sessions, they're creating valuable content that can eventually be rolled into an internal resource site, adding value for members for years to come.
1871's workshops have become an instrumental part of keeping members up to speed on the best ways to launch and grow their businesses. Says George: “Before BigMarker, our entrepreneurs had to be in the building to take advantage of our programming, which is somewhat ironic given that everyone keeps telling them to get out of the building to talk to customers. BigMarker gives us the ability to provide anytime/anywhere access to our content, strengthening our community.”
The story of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 isn’t really about the fire. It’s about what happened next: A remarkable moment when the most brilliant engineers, architects and inventors came together to build a new city. Their innovations – born of passion and practical ingenuity – shaped not just Chicago, but the modern world. What started 130 years ago continues to this day. Chicago’s brightest digital designers, engineers and entrepreneurs are shaping new technologies, disrupting old business models, and resetting the boundaries of what’s possible.
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