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Chicago Investors Help Young Start-Ups

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A group of 80 high net worth Chicago investors, many with U of C diplomas are funding good ideas that could become the next big thing.

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Groupon isn't the only Chicago start-up company making waves these days.  Many new players are hitting the Chicago scene and creating new jobs.

Noblivity, a company that connects small clothing manufacturers to specialty stores or boutiques, is run out of Andrea Williamson's suburban home. Williamson houses product samples in the lower level of her home office, but the core of the company is online, matching small specialty retailers with small designers and manufacturers.

One of these small specialty retailers that Noblivity has worked with is "Jeans and a Cute Top Shop" in Wheaton. With Noblivity's help, the store now carries products from small designers.

"You know you can go to the markets, you can go to New York, but the problem is we're all looking at the same things," owner Jill Card said. "We want to be unique."

In just under a year, the web site has already placed 5,000 different products in 6,500 specialty retailers.

Noblivity's success wouldn't have been possible without the help of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and the Hyde Park Angels. The Angels are a group of almost 80 high net worth Chicago investors, many of whom have University of Chicago diplomas, who are looking to fund the "next big thing."

Williamson had to present in front of the Hyde Park Angels, and get them excited about her idea. The Angels invested in Noblivity, as they have with many other companies.

"Knock on wood, all our companies are still in business," Jeff Carter, co-founder of The Hyde Park Angels said.

So far, the Angels have created 11 new companies and created almost 100 new jobs.

"They allow us to stay right here in Chicago," Williamson says.

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