Past Participants

Steve Dinelli Picture

Steve Dinelli

2013 Amplify'd Winner

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How would you sum up the last year for LineHop?
The last year of LineHop was a roller coaster, to say the least. Like anything else, we’ve had big ups and downs, but I think that’s how it goes with startups. But we’re still around and growing. We’re proving that we can add incremental sales to businesses and people like it. We’re just trying to get it out there.

What was your biggest takeaway from Amplify’d 2013?
I’ll start with the prize. I had been putting off getting a membership at 1871 because I thought it was an unnecessary expense. But, getting to go there for free made me realize I had made a horrible mistake of not joining earlier because of how valuable it is. I’ve met so many people there and the resources have been very helpful.

Another takeaway is learning about State Farm®. I didn’t really know much about it, I just thought it was an insurance company, but seeing everything that goes on at Next Door® and meeting people from State Farm, it’s crazy that they’re a part of a 100-year-old company. I see State Farm trying to stay modern, innovative and current by helping the community. More often I see a lot of old companies are stuck in the past and don’t want to change, but I think it’s awesome that State Farm is trying to stay cool, stay innovative.

What’s one piece of advice you have for Amplify’d 2014 participants?
You need to really vet what you’re going to say. I wouldn’t say rehearse, but know what you’re going to say, because the judges will know if you don’t. The people who are judging are the best of Chicago, and they know where the problems in a business can be. If you’re thinking in the back of your head, ‘I hope they’re not going to ask me this,’ you know they’re going to ask you, and you have to have an answer.

What’s up next for LineHop?
We’re working on setting up a pilot program with the largest chain of bowling alleys in the world. If we can get something moving there, that would be fantastic. From there, we’re trying to grow as best as we can, as quickly as we possibly can. Just keep doing what we’re doing; grinding and providing the best service and product we can to our customers.

Jimmy Odom Picture

Jimmy Odom

2013 Amplify'd Participant

Founded at StartUp Weekend in November, 2012, WeDeliver has grown into one of Chicago’s most buzzed about businesses. Next Door met WeDeliver and their CEO, Jimmy Odom, when they started working and building their business at Next Door. Since 2012, WeDeliver has participated in many competitions including Amplify’d 2013, won many competitions, including TechWeek Launch 2013, and they continue to grow their business in Chicago. Meet WeDeliver and their CEO Jimmy Odom here:

In one minute or less, can you sum up WeDeliver’s last year of business?
Our entire first year was about proving an idea, and building the very first iteration of that idea, and getting some matter of traction from it. We did a pretty good job with not only gaining customers, but social support, as well. We won a few competitions, a few contests, and that got us a lot of the momentum we needed.

In three words, describe what “Chicagoness” means for you and WeDeliver.
Collaboration, hustle and dedication.

Collaboration because it’s the places, the mentorships, the resources that make it not an idea coming together, but a community coming together to support an idea, a business.

Dedication because I believe Chicago’s one of the unique places, like a Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurs just hustle and they are dedicated to solving a problem, building a solution, building a great product, and I think that we’re dedicated here in Chicago to building great products.

What was your biggest takeaway from Amplify’d 2013?
It sounds cliché to say, but it’s important that for communities that are looking to build, that they continue to stimulate the economy and entrepreneurialism. For companies like State Farm that are pillars in our society, for them to be involved locally, and to bring all of these entrepreneurs together, that’s a big deal.

A big takeaway for me is how much energy was at Amplify’d, how much excitement for the products that were there, and then the relationships that were built. I’m still talking to some of the people that I met at Amplify’d. It showed me that there’s a need for it and not a lot of companies acknowledge it and put money behind it. I don’t know what the feeling is like at State Farm about Next Door or Amplify’d, and there might not be any direct tie or return on investment, but it clearly has an impact on the community.

If you had one piece of advice for someone going to pitch at Amplify’d 2014, what would that be?
Be passionate about what you’re pitching. That’s the biggest thing. Passion outstrips a lot of other things. There’s always a business with a better user experience, or better design, but if they’re not passionate about what they’re doing, they’ll never last. Be passionate about what you’re building, what you’re doing, and the way you live your life.

What’s up next for WeDeliver?
Honestly I really want us to make sure that we perfect the model. There are a lot of intricacies and logistics, and I want to make sure that we can support what our dreams are. We need to own the foundation of it, so we can put some things on top of it.