by Jim Dalike

A prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist and the former CEO of McDonald’s will headline the 2017 Chicago Venture Summit, an annual showcase where top Chicago startups pitch their businesses to investors from around the U.S.

Ben Horowitz, co-founder and partner of Andreessen Horowitz, and Don Thompson, former McDonald’s CEO and founder of investment firm Cleveland Avenue, were announced Wednesday as headliners of this year’s summit.

This year’s event will take place over two days on September 13 and 14, and it will include pitch sessions at five innovation hubs in Chicago, including Cleveland Avenue, 1871, TechNexus, MATTER, and The University of Chicago Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Interested startups can apply to present here.

The event is hosted by World Business Chicago’s ChicagoNEXT, an organization dedicated to growing Chicago’s tech economy.

“Chicago continues to be recognized as one of the best cities for the next generation of entrepreneurs to build a business,” Mark Tebbe, chairman of ChicagoNEXT, said in a statement. “This year’s event will highlight why now is the time to increase investment in Chicago, as well as the strength of the local technology community. VCs can continue to count on Chicago as a great place for proven return on investment.”

Earlier this year Thompson, who left McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) after nearly two decades with the company, launched Cleveland Avenue, an accelerator for food and beverage startups. Horowitz is one of the most well-known VCs in Silicon Valley, having invested in companies like Airbnb, Lyft and Oculus, as well as Chicago’s Groupon and Belly.

The first day of the summit will feature company presentations at the aforementioned tech hubs in Chicago. Day two will take place at Google’s Chicago office, where Thompson and Horowitz will speak, and it will also feature company presentations and panels on Chicago tech topics such as Chicago’s industries of the future, the growing strength of B2B businesses, and Chicago’s role as a leader in returns for startup investments.

Since the Chicago Venture Summit was founded in 2014, 120 startups have been featured, and they’ve received more than $300 million in new funding, according to World Business Chicago.


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