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Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) Seeks the City’s Next Big Digital Start-Up

Local Businesses Could Win Up to $15K in Grant Funding

Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) Seeks the City’s Next Big Digital Start-Up
Chicago, IL, October 12, 2011 --( Are you an entrepreneur trying to build and expand your interactive marketing or advertising business? Think your business could be the next Groupon? Or do you think you have the business savvy to go against some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in Chicago? The Chicago Digital Startup Initiative, created by the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) in partnership with Built in Chicago, is encouraging local entrepreneurs to submit their applications online at: beginning October 10, 2011 through November 18, 2011 for a chance to win funding to grow their interactive marketing business. Two grants will be issued -- $15,000 for first place and $5,000 for second place, plus in-kind services.

“We are excited to partner with Built in Chicago in our search for Chicago’s next big digital start-up,” said Cary Goss, President of CIMA and Vice President of Sales & Business Development at Auditude. “At CIMA, we dedicate ourselves to serving the region's digital marketers and technologies, including those just starting up. This grant program will further our mission in supporting today and tomorrow’s best-in-class digital entrepreneurs and companies and we hope these efforts will give the selected organizations both financial assistance as well as the ability to tap into CIMA's substantial resource pool.”

Only the Best Need Apply
Digital marketing and advertising start-up’s and entities registered in the Chicago and Chicagoland areas with $1MM or below in top-line revenue are invited to apply for grant funding. Companies may service other businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C), but must specialize in online marketing in some form or fashion.

Entrepreneurs may visit to fill out and submit an online application form.

Grant-Worthy Winnings
Two start-up organizations will be awarded grant funding and in-kind services from CIMA. The first place winner will receive $15K and the second place winner will receive $5K. In addition, both winning organizations will receive in-kind services such as complimentary CIMA membership and access to CIMA events and potential sponsorships. Recipients will be asked to provide quarterly updates to the CIMA Board and provide information on how they are spending the funds.

What Would You Do?
Two successful entrepreneurs, who are also CIMA members, shared their tips and thoughts on growing a new business in Chicago and how they would have used grant funding when they were starting out.

Todd Holmes, Chicago Entrepreneur, President and CEO of Liquidus, Founder of and Investor of Goose Island:

“It’s an exciting time for technology start-up’s here in Chicago right now and entrepreneurs should take advantage of the city’s growth potential and opportunities. My advice to start-up companies is that you should listen to what the marketplace needs and be flexible enough to follow these opportunities. At Liquidus, we started as a marketing service provider and now we are completely product-based because that’s where the money was. If I were pursuing grant funding at the early start-up stages, I would probably use the money to grow my infrastructure. If I had already been in business for awhile, I would likely use the money to improve my sales process by either growing the sales plan already in place, or bringing someone in for a few months that I couldn’t otherwise have afforded. It all depends on your individual situations and business models, but this CIMA grant is the perfect opportunity to invest into certain areas of your business.”

Shawn Riegsecker, Chicago Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Centro

“Chicago is a great place to start and grow a business because it embodies a perfect blend of character, values and work ethic that’s hard to find elsewhere. I think all entrepreneurs should understand that the culture of your company is the single most determinant to your success. Your culture is a force multiplier during the good times and a support group that gets you through the bad times. Your culture will also attract the right people and repel the wrong ones. I also encourage entrepreneurs to look for white spaces in the industry that you can own and conserve your cash for as long as possible. The Chicago Digital Startup Initiative, created by CIMA, is an excellent opportunity to supplement your growth. If I had been given a grant when I started out, I would have used it for travel to see my clients on a more regular basis.”

For more information about The Chicago Digital Startup Initiative created by CIMA, in partnership with Built in Chicago, visit or

About CIMA
CIMA is Chicago's only interactive-centric professional organization dedicated to the enhancement and acceleration of business opportunities, professional development and exponential networking for the interactive marketing professionals in Chicago.

Founded in 1997, CIMA remains one of the veteran interactive associations in the country with critical emphasis on thought-leadership and cross-media outreach through forums, panels and seminars with experts from our Windy City and beyond. Events are held quarterly and we welcome members and non-members alike. For more information, please visit

About Built in Chicago
Built In Chicago is a resource for "digital professionals" working to build great web and mobile businesses. Our mission is to connect, educate and promote the growing digital community in Chicago. For more information, please visit

About The Chicago Digital Startup Initiative
The Chicago Digital Startup Initiative is an annual grant created by the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA), the city’s only interactive-centric professional organization, and Built in Chicago, a community of local entrepreneurs committed to growing the digital space in Chicago. Through this partnership, CIMA will grant money and in-kind services to two start-up organizations in Chicago every year.

Contact Information
Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA)
Rachel Lukawski-Kuna

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