codal insights

The Chicago Startups You’ll Be Hearing About In 2018

March 21st, 2018

As a Chicago UX design and development company, Codal likes to keep our finger on the pulse of the tech industry thriving in our backyard. Not just because the Second City’s startup scene has fostered a breeding ground for the cutting-edge, but because it grants us an opportunity to wax nostalgic. After all, Codal originated as a small app developer housed in Lincoln Park, long before Chicago would become the lightning rod for tech entrepreneurs it is today.

We’ve since grown considerably, but Codal manages to stay abreast of the burgeoning software companies and disruptors happening around us, whether it’s by rubbing elbows at tech conferences around the country or partnering with them to spearhead their next digital initiative.

Many of these startups embody the same principles Codal champions: innovation, usability, a dedication to elegant simplicity. So we’d like to use our platform as a Chicago UX design agency to highlight just a sample of the groundswell of startups that call our city home. Here are the up and comers you’ll be hearing about in 2018.


As of this writing, the Election Day for Illinois’ hotly anticipated primaries are just a week away. And in our current political climate, where almost no state election escapes the national spotlight, it’s more crucial than ever that the electorate remains informed and active in the democratic process.

Enter BallotReady, a digital service that provides a comprehensive voter guide to every candidate Illinois constituents will find on their ballots in upcoming elections. Founded in 2014 by passionate constituents, activists, and campaigners, BallotReady aims to strengthen our democracy by arming its citizens with the power of information.

The Chicago Startups You’ll Be Hearing About In 2018


It offers detailed and up-to-date information on political stances, voting records, and quotes from the candidates, all packaged in a usable, seamless interface. If you’re a Chicagoan who hasn’t heard of it already, perhaps you will when BallotReady expands nationwide in November 2018.


Over 20 million people in the United States suffer from some form of addiction or substance abuse disorder, and TriggrHealth aims to aid their recovery by providing a support system of cutting-edge digital technologies.

The Chicago Startups You’ll Be Hearing About In 2018


Chief among these technologies is TriggrHealth’s predictive analytics engine. By wielding machine learning and data tracking, TriggrHealth can identify behavioral patterns that indicate a potential relapse. Whether it’s a sudden change in location or a discrepancy in sleeping patterns, TriggrHealth can foresee a potential relapse and proactively administer remote treatment.

Claiming their treatment model is three times more effective than conventional methods, TriggrHealth boasts a prediction accuracy of 90% when forecasting regressive behavior. It’s the prototypical example of how technology can be leveraged to improve the quality of our lives, and VC’s have taken notice—the startup earned over four million in funding just last year.

Fraight AI

And while we’re on the subject of harnessing the latest and greatest in tech, let’s spotlight Fraight AI, the nascent Chitown startup that’s overturning outdated logistics methods with, you guessed it, artificial intelligence.

Founded just last year, Fraight AI has accrued nearly a million dollars in funding and appeared in Built In Chicago’s 50 Startups to Watch in 2018. Their AI expertise is clearly a huge draw, but what’s really interesting about Fraight is how they’re melding this ultramodern tech with the logistics industry’s existing, anachronistic channels: email, phone, and even fax.

The Chicago Startups You’ll Be Hearing About In 2018


That fusion of ancient tech with bleeding-edge is the foundation of Fraight’s product: an AI-powered freight broker that trafficks in those antiquated channels—fax machines and landlines—but at “next-generation speeds”.

It’s an intriguing idea made all the more enticing by its promise of circumventing one of the most common obstacles in the adoption new technologies: the persistent infrastructure of the old ones. But instead of dismantling the outmoded ways, you harness them like Fraight AI—well, that’s how you get 0.9M in less than a year.


There’s an endless supply of apps out there designed to help find you an apartment, house, condo or really any short- or long-term living space. But for commercial real estate, no such solution is readily available, especially if you’re a small business. Truss aims to fill that market space.

Co-founded by serial entrepreneur Andrew Bokor, Truss is a real estate web and mobile platform that allows SMB’s to complete the leasing process from start-to-finish, all digitally. With Truss, business owners can search properties, partake in virtual tours, negotiate pricing, and even finalize the deal by completing all the documentation in-platform.

The Chicago Startups You’ll Be Hearing About In 2018


On top of an impressive breadth of use cases, Truss also utilizes some advanced tech to take their user experience to the next level. The startup has injected machine learning and data analytics into its platform to help suggest spaces optimized to their user’s needs.

Truss has already made waves in Chicago’s startup scene, and the 7.7 million in Series A funding they recently received has added yet another feather in their cap.

What Do These Companies Have In Common?

The companies featured in this article were born and raised in Chicago’s booming startup scene, but all of them inhabit different sectors and spaces. From healthcare and logistics to politics and real estate, Second City startups are innovating across all avenues.

Their commonality lies in a staple of each of their services—superbly usable digital solutions, designed either in-house or through the hiring of an UX design agency. If your Windy City startup wants to compete with successes like these, consider an app design company in Chicago.

Sean McGowan


Sean is a technical researcher & writer at Codal, authoring blog posts on topics ranging from UX design to the Internet of Things. Working alongside developers, designers, and marketers, Sean helps support the writing team to ensure Codal produces engaging web content of the highest quality. When not writing about the latest and greatest in digital design, Sean can be found baking, watching movies, or complaining about the shortcomings of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.


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