New Venture Will Invest Sweat Equity And $15 Million in Capital In Fifteen Young Companies Over The Next Three Years; Focus on New Ideas and Seed Stage Companies

Founders Brett Goldstein and David Spielfogel Are Joined By Strategic Partners Michael Nutter, Tim O’Reilly, Anne Milgram and Michael Sacks to Create the First Fund To Be Led By Urban Practitioners and Technology Strategists

September 22, 2016 

Ekistic Ventures, a national group of urban problem-solvers, today launched its first fund to actively cultivate a portfolio of disruptive young companies that bring new solutions to critical urban problems. Based in Chicago with a national network of partners, the team will invest its expertise and capital in entrepreneurs and start-ups that have great ideas to make cities more efficient and equitable.  If a company doesn’t already exist to address a critical problem, the Ekistic team will work with partners at the best academic and research institutions to create new ventures.

The Ekistic team is unique, bringing more than fifty years of leadership experience in local and national government as well as in technology start-ups. Whether building a successful technology startup or using big data to make governments more effective, managing partner Brett Goldstein brings nearly two decades of experience improving cities through technological innovation at OpenTable, a global hedge fund, and as the first Chief Data Officer of a major U.S. city. Managing partner David Spielfogel has worked at the highest levels of government, political campaigns and philanthropy with a focus on guiding good ideas to implementation. His career started in the Clinton White House and most recently he served for five years as Senior Advisor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“We started Ekistic because we have seen first-hand how cities are ground zero for seismic changes to the way we work, live, get around and interact with one another. There are a lot of great ideas to solve the problems facing cities, but many young entrepreneurs and companies lack the know-how to build the most successful technology architecture and urban strategy to turn those ideas into widely-adopted solutions,” said co-founder and Managing Partner David Spielfogel. “We are actively looking for innovators and young companies that have unlocked a better strategy to tackle today’s most pressing challenges, and we want to work actively with them to turn a smart solution into a successful company.”

Once these companies join the Ekistic portfolio, the team gets to work reinforcing their technological architecture to ensure it is suitable for the businesses, consumers and governments who will deploy it. We also help refine the company’s strategic pitch, regulatory compliance and market approach to improve its chances for wide adoption in the world’s leading cities.

“Advances in big data, analytics and technology have opened new ways to deliver services and measure performance in the urban environment,” said co-founder and Managing Partner Brett Goldstein. “We want to make sure companies in our portfolio are well-positioned to take advantage of these changes, and our team brings unique experience and insights to make that possible.”

Ekistic strategic partner Michael Nutter led one of America’s greatest cities and was elected by America’s mayors to serve as their voice. During his two terms leading Philadelphia, he found innovative ways to create good-paying jobs, grow neighborhood vibrancy, reduce crime, and improve educational outcomes by disrupting status quo solutions.

“My time in public service, especially my experience serving as Mayor of Philadelphia and serving as Chair of the US Conference of Mayors, has shown me the unique challenges and opportunities of urban life -- and that those issues are common in cities across the country. Cities need to foster innovation in order to deliver the best outcomes for residents, and I look forward to helping build partnerships between entrepreneurs and communities to make our cities stronger.”  

Strategic partner Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media Inc and partner at early-stage venture firm O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures. Known for pioneering the concept of Web 2.0, Tim is considered one of Silicon Valley’s most influential thinkers about the future of technology and society.

“Technology and automation are changing the world, and it is essential that we not miss the opportunity to think about using these changes for good. Nowhere is this more true than in our cities, where proper planning and innovation can ensure the future of work means not displaced workers, but more efficient processes and new economic models. I look forward to helping Ekistic develop new companies who understand not just their products, but the urban systems in which they will operate.”

Focused on reforming systems through smart data, analytics and technology, strategic partner Anne Milgram has worked as a prosecutor, a state Attorney General, and a philanthropy executive to modernize the American criminal justice system and other public institutions.  From transforming the Camden, New Jersey Police Department to building a national risk assessment tool for police, prosecutors and courts, Milgram has worked to apply the best of the modern world – data, analytics, and technology – to transform outdated systems and practices.  

“Technology and data have already changed many aspects of society for the better, but many of our public institutions continue to lag behind in using these tools to improve decisions. Our criminal justice system is ripe for reform, and I hope to help Ekistic find and nurture the innovators who can implement real change.”

Partner Michael Sacks is CEO of GCM/Grosvenor, a $50 billion alternative asset management firm that brings strong relationships with global capital markets, investors and governments. Michael is also an active local civic leader with a focus on strategies to create neighborhood economic development..

Ekistic will be based at Chicago’s 1871, a hub for digital entrepreneurs.