Up-and-Comer Awards Winners

2014 Up-and-Comer Awards Winners

TempoIQ: Real-Time Sensor Analytics

Packback: One-Day eTextbook Rentals

LuminAID: LuminAID Solar Light

At TempoIQ, we’ve developed a scalable, real-time sensor analytics platform that enables our customers to monitor, analyze, and store sensor data for their connected applications. From our proprietary data store to our real-time monitoring engine, we’ve built an integrated solution, running on a private cloud, specifically for the challenges companies face adapting to a measured world.


Shiftgig is a transparent marketplace that connects service industry workers with jobs. We collect client requirements, worker skills, and real-time shift data to provide smarter matches. We’re helping millions of workers get millions of shift jobs.

Options Away

Recognized as one of the most innovative new companies in travel, Options Away® is the world’s only Online Travel Agency that allows consumers to lock-in the price of an airline ticket while finalizing their travel plans. Options Away leverages the concepts and technologies of the financial markets and applies them to the travel industry. The Options Away solution provides a revolutionary approach to travel planning – customers pay a small fee upfront knowing that if the price of the flight increases, they will never have to pay more than the locked-in fare.


KENTECH’s eKnowID is a personal background checking solution helping job seekers get ahead. With eKnowID’s new proactive technology, candidates can confidently and conveniently perform all necessary checks prior to speaking with an employer. This will allow applicants to take control over their personal information and give them the ability to challenge any inaccuracies that may exist.

Packback is the first company to ever offer on-demand, One-Day eTextbook Rentals, giving college students the control to rent their college textbooks as needed for $5 or less per day. All of Packback’s One-Day eTextbook Rentals are Rent-to-Own, meaning that a student can never spend more than the purchase price of the book. Facing an industry where textbook prices have risen at 800% inflation and student debt has surpassed $1.2 Trillion, Packback provides affordable, flexible textbook solutions that meet the needs of students today and pave the way for a digital future in higher education. Packback is currently helping over 80,000 students save on textbooks through their One-Day eTextbook Rentals and Price Comparison tools.


Rippleshot’s cloud-based technology detects bank card data breaches, usually before card issuers or merchants have any idea. Rippleshot uses a big data approach in order to stop bank card breaches by focusing on merchant behavior instead of consumer behavior. By analyzing millions of credit and debit card transactions per day, Rippleshot can spot common shopping history in fraudulent cards, pinpointing where the data was stolen down to a particular store, on a particular day, and even the specific point-of-sale terminal. Rippleshot can stop more than half of the fraudulent spend from compromised cards, saving money for issuers and brand reputation for merchants.



ThinkCERCA is an education technology that helps students in grades 4-12 build critical thinking skills such as analytical reading, writing and speaking, and listening. Using a research-based proprietary framework, the online programs provide teachers with a library of lessons that they can assign to students to introduce key skills and concepts, then apply those skills with a rigorous and interactive lesson design. ThinkCERCA also provides teachers with tools to monitor their students’ progress and adjust lessons based on the individual’s learning level. In turn, students are given the chance to engage with each other and collaborate on ideas through debate. Now available in all 50 states, ThinkCERCA’s free version is used by 7,500 teachers and has over 32,000 students on the schoolwide enterprise version.

The LuminAID Solar Light is an inflatable, solar-powered lantern that packs flat and inflates into a lightweight, waterproof lantern. The LuminAID light is ideal for emergency use, camping, or in the home as an extra light source. Tuck it away in a first-aid kit or hook it on your backpack to take with you on your next adventure. It provides up to 16 hours of LED light and recharges in approximately 7 hours of direct sunlight.

Pangea: Money Transfer Platform

Pangea is a new way to send money to anywhere in Mexico for only $3.95. Users can register with Pangea and complete a transfer in three easy steps. The platform currently accepts payments with any US prepaid or debit card with a nationwide cash solution coming soon. Receivers can collect the transfers in cash at 10,000+ locations in urban and rural areas in Mexico, or receive the money directly on any (65,000,000+) Mexican debit card or bank account. Pangea has built a state-of-the-art performance monitoring system with rigorous fraud, risk and security controls. The solution is currently in public beta and can be accessed at gopangea.com or through the iOS Pangea Money Transfer app.

640 Labs: 640 Labs Platform

The 640 Labs Platform provides a simple, effective and economical means to collect, aggregate and analyze the wealth of agricultural data that has previously been left in the field. Farmers around the world now have direct access to unfiltered, unbiased analysis on an unprecedented scale, allowing them to optimize their operations. The 640 Labs Platform consists of the 640 Drive, the 640 Labs mobile app and the cloud-based 640 Dashboard. The elegantly designed 640 Drive connects directly to the diagnostic port present on all farm equipment and delivers the collected data to the 640 Mobile app via a wireless Bluetooth link. The 640 Labs mobile app displays the data to the operator in real time and transmits it to the 640 Dashboard over the mobile device’s cellular connection. Never before have farmers been able to capitalize on all this information in order to benchmark and improve operations year over year.


2013 Up-and-Comer Awards Winners




AutonomyWorks leverages the hidden talents of people with autism to deliver high quality process outsourcing. By enabling this skilled workforce, we are able to lower costs, improve quality and increase flexibility for our clients. We have created tools, processes, and training that enable our unique workforce’s innate capabilities to perform repetitive, detail-oriented work with exceptional quality. AutonomyWorks specializes in marketing operations work such as analytics, web site maintenance, and quality assurance.

Moxie Jean

Moxie Jean is the trusted, curated, "upscale resale" marketplace for busy parents who want to buy and sell high quality, gently used baby and kid’s clothing and gear. The free, postage-paid Moxie Jean Mailer Bag makes it easier than ever to turn great clothes kids have outgrown into cash or Moxie Money. Launched in the fall of 2012, Moxie Jean was just voted by parents as the “Most Awesome Online Consign, Swap or Recycle" site and has been featured on the TODAY Show, “Good Day, Chicago,” Daily Candy, iVillage and many more. Moxie Jean is a 2012 portfolio company of Chicago’s renowned tech accelerator Excelerate Labs (now Tech Stars – Chicago).


SceneTap lets consumers view real-time information on the crowd density, male-to-female ratio and the average age of patrons inside their favorite social venues such as bars and restaurants with the tap of a button. Gone are the days of worrying about the scene before you go. SceneTap helps you find the ideal spot based on what you want at that moment, whether it’s a business lunch or a night on the town. Since launching in July 2011, SceneTap has become the world’s leading provider of real-time venue demographics and has been used by more than 350,000 people across 13 US markets.

Everpurse combines cutting edge technology with fashion forward style, resulting in functional expertly designed handbags that wirelessly charge a variety of smart phones. Invented by Liz Salcedo, a former social worker turned entrepreneur, Everpurse quickly grew from a personal solution to an internationally celebrated tech product made by and for women. Each Everpurse is designed, constructed, and hand sewn in the USA.

Nordic Auto Plow LLC

The Nordic Auto Plow is a snow plow blade designed to be attached to the front of virtually any type of vehicle, including cars, ATVs, Lawn Tractors, Zero Turn Mowers and UTVs . It is intended for non-commercial use to help users clear their driveways of snow. The patent pending, lightweight, rounded edge plow is perfect on all surfaces – from paver bricks and gravel driveways to grass.


SimpleRelevance is the only big data platform that leverages your existing tools and workflow to personalize digital marketing. Its clients (B2C companies sending email) see conversion increases of 30% to 300% and typically generate $20 of incremental revenue for every dollar in fees. SimpleRelevance combines customers’ demographic data, social data, and previous purchase data with patent-pending technology to create emails that are individually personalized down to the time of day the email is sent, subject line, and the product recommendations shown.



SwipeSense is the only complete monitoring system that combines point-of-care hand hygiene dispensers, with a smart sensor network for real-time hand hygiene performance data. SwipeSense’s goal is to improve hand hygiene behavior in health care settings in order to save the 100,000 lives lost every year due to hospital acquired infections.

Farmedhere provides and innovative, unique approach to sustainable, urban farming. The company made a fundamental change to traditional farming by taking farming indoors. What makes Farmedhere unique and innovative is its vertical farming technique, in which plants are grown in vertically stacked grow beds, creating a perfect utilization of space. The process begins by mechanically controlling air temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure, and ends with sophisticated multi-layer hydroponic growing systems. To grow better, tastier produce, their plants are grown in nutrient-rich water instead of soil, chemical-and pesticide-free, year round. Farmedhere grows produce the way nature intended, allowing the company to do what’s best for consumer as well as the environment.


Portapure manufactures and sells water purification products to places where clean drinking water is inaccessible. Their latest product, PureLives, is a 5 gallon in-home portable filtration system that filters any contaminated water leaving it 99.9% pure. Their products provide fresh water for survival to remote and developing communities as well as to natural disaster sites. Portapure’s products not only allow individuals and families to have access to clean water, but their products are the most affordable alternative to commercially purchased water. They service all markets, but with a focus on two main groups: the disenfranchised and those who can afford to purchase a product with our without assistance in developing countries. Key to reaching these markets is Portapure’s adaptability. Their products grow and change depending on the needs of the consumer and environment.

SiNode Systems

SiNode Systems is a battery materials venture developing advanced anodes for the next generation of lithium-ion batteries. SiNode anodes offer higher battery capacity and faster charging rates, all while being produced via a low cost solution chemistry-based manufacturing process. SiNode seeks to change the landscape for lithium-ion batteries so they can meet the demands of a wide range of industries, from consumer electronics to electric vehicles. SiNode Systems is the winner of the 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition and the National Department of Energy Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.


2012 Up-and-Comer Awards Winners

NuMat Technologies, Inc.

Food Genius


NuMat Technologies, Inc. is a cleantech university spinout that designs and synthesizes a new class of nanomaterials, MOFs, for gas storage and separations applications. NuMat Technologies has developed MOFs whose performance breaks world records, has valuable technology assets, and a strong IP portfolio.


Moneythink empowers urban high school students to build a better future through peer-mentorship and financial education. Moneythink, which started as a student club at The University of Chicago, has grown into a nationwide movement, training over 300 college students to mentor over 2500 students in 17 urban campus communities nationwide.


A co-working center for digital startups. Located in the Merchandise Mart, the 50,000-square-foot facility provides Chicago startups with affordable workspace and access to mentors, programming, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Food Genius empowers food industry professionals, analysts, chefs and food product developers to identify and create new product concepts by tracking and comparing restaurant menus and food trends.


Mobcart enables you to team up with other shoppers who want to buy the same item. When a “mob” of people have formed around a product, Mobcart negotiates with retailers to offer a wholesale discount.


BriteSeed’s SafeSnips is a technology that integrates with surgical cutting tools. It alerts surgeons when they are about to accidentally cut blood vessels, thereby preventing unintended bleeding during surgery.

MentorMob is an educational tool which makes learning through search engines quicker and easier. Through crowdsourcing, MentorMob creates educational “playlists” consisting of the most pertinent videos, websites and documents relating to a particular subject, resulting in a directed learning experience.

Northwestern Global Health Foundation

Northwestern Global Health Foundation’s LYNX p24 Test diagnoses infants with HIV in under an hour. Before, the process of testing could take months, but with this test, infants can be put on life-saving treatment right away. It is currently being used by the Clinton Health Access Initiative.


Belly is a digital loyalty program that creates unique customer rewards programs that reflect the culture of small companies. Belly customers become part of the program by downloading an app or getting a Belly card. This same membership can be used to get rewards at all participating vendors.


2011 Up-and-Comer Awards Winners




Enables consumers to switch to the lowest cost electricity provider with an easy to use and intuitive interface.


Delivers analytic solutions to the retail industry that optimizes in-store technology, in real-time.


A crowdfunding website where family and friends can contribute to loved ones during times of need.


Writes magazine-style articles profiling Chicago entrepreneurs in order to promote innovation within Chicago.


The first in-game, mobile advertising platform that connects gamers, games, and brands.


An online meeting and event marketplace that connects all members of the event supply chain, allowing them to interact and transact online.


Allows students and their families the ability to better navigate financial aid systems.


An online comparison tool where businesses can search for the best bid from credit card processors at the lowest prices.

Clean Urban Energy

Determines how much to pre-heat or pre-cool a building during off-peak hours.

Excelerate Labs

One of the most successful start-up incubators and accelerators in the nation.