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Why Virgin Wants Chicago Startups to Think ‘People and Planet’ at New Startup Summit

Chicago Startup Summit
On Wednesday, Virgin wants Chicago entrepreneurs to think “people and planet,” as well as profit, when starting their business.
Virgin is hosting the Chicago Startup Summit Wednesday to give tools to local entrepreneurs, but Richard Branson’s company also wants founders to focus on creating a social good element in their businesses. The event is being put on by Virgin Hotels Room 72, Virgin America and UK-based We Are The Future, a global entrepreneurship organization.
The event will include workshops, a startup showcase, and talks from 1871 CEO Howard Tullman,Detroit SOUP Director Amy Kaherl, Cool Globes Founder Wendy Abrams, Gayle Northrop, president of Northrop Nonprofit Consulting, and more.
“[We want startups] creating businesses that are focused on what’s good for people and what’s good for the planet,” said Doug Carrillo, VP of Sales & Marketing for Virgin Hotels. “That’s a part of the overall Virgin philosophy. We want to profit, but we also want to make sure that other people and our plant are profiting. There’s no reason both can’t happen.”
Carillo said the startup summit is taking place in Chicago partly because Virgin’s first US hotel is here, but also due to the growing tech scene the city has developed.
“There is an incredible amount of entrepreneurship and startups in Chicago,” Carillo said. “There’s just a lot of great things happening in the startup world in the city of Chicago.”
Around 100 Chicago entrepreneurs are set to attend Wednesday’s event, according to Bruce Walker, founder of We Are the Future, a UK company that is helping organize the event. We Are the Future helps connect entrepreneurs all over the world through different startup summits and events.
“We’re really excited about the businesses that are being created in Chicago,” Walker said. “We did quite a lot of research and spoke to a lot of the companies. We spoke to 1871, TechNexus, just learning about what the ecosystem is like here. And everyone just kept telling us that it’s buzzing with entrepreneurs.”
Part networking, part programing, the event aims to give founders more resources for starting their businesses, with keeping social impact in mind.
“For businesses to be sustainable, they need to do business but also help their community,” Walker said, “and impacting the world is really important.”
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