Chicago-based startup growing beyond city

As regular readers of this blog are likely aware, as of late there has been a big effort on the part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make Chicago a hub for those seeking to startup businesses. If the performance of Chicago-based startup Boomerang is any indication, the efforts are paying off.

The social media gifting business, that provides Facebook users a technical platform to send "friends" presents from a total of 40 local retailers, was launched this past August. Funding from venture capital firm, Lightbank, made the launch possible. It provided Boomerang with $1 million to get the business going. The venture capital firm happens to also be based locally in Chicago.

The idea behind the business is that Facebook users are able to purchase gifts from participating businesses for others on the social networking site. Once purchased, the intended recipients are then provided a digital voucher that they can take to the local merchant to redeem.

In addition to the sale, the usually small businesses that are involved receive an added benefit as well. When a gift is purchased from one of the merchants a notification is posted on that person's Facebook page which provides advertising for that business to all of the recipient's "friends".

Since the initial launch the startup has expanded into other states as well. It now provides the service to residents of Indianapolis, New York and Austin, Texas. In addition, the number of local merchants available in Chicago has increased to 65.

There are of course many details that need to be considered and properly addressed for a startup business to be successful the way that this one has. Consulting a Chicago-area business attorney could make the difference between the success and failure of an endeavor such as this.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Boomerang social media gifting startup expands beyond Chicago," Wailin Wong, Nov. 16, 2012

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