David Weinstein has long been a key player in Chicago’s innovation scene as his career morphed from adviser to founder to connector and cultivator.
He founded Freshwater Advisors in 2013 as a venture development firm and innovation consultancy to Fortune 1000 corporations. Freshwater scouts and matches large companies with entrepreneurs through custom programs, demo days and venture funds.
Weinstein began his career in 1992 as a senior associate for Target. He became a technology adviser to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley from 1996 to 2000 to help draw tech firms to the city.
He left the Mayor’s office to found his own technology startup, BlueMeteor. While it raised $31 million in venture capital, it ultimately failed. The experience inspired Weinstein to help other startups improve their chances of success.
In 2000, Weinstein became founding president of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which later became the parent of tech incubator 1871.
“I started the CEC right after BlueMeteor was wound down,” he told Blue Sky. “The greatest things you can do for entrepreneurs are to help make introductions to customers, help them raise capital and help them find mentors to traverse their entrepreneurial journey.”
Before leaving the CEC, Weinstein co-founded the Illinois Innovation Accelerator Fund (I2A), now Chicago Ventures, a $10 million fund to provide seed-stage capital to startups, in 2007.