The Jews of 1871

A look at the Jewish-led startups that make up Chicago’s innovation hub

The Jews of 1871 photo
Lynnley Miller (left) and Aleeza Lubin of the Jewish innovation organization UpStart are part of the Jewish cohort at 1871.

If you're in Chicago's startup scene or are somewhat aware of it, you've likely heard of 1871 -- an incubator to dozens of companies in the city's tech community. As the P33 initiative gains steam in its efforts to reclaim Chicago as one of the tech capitals of the world, more startups are looking at 1871 as a place to call home.

As such, 1871 is also the work home of many of Chicago's young Jewish professionals who have taken an interest in working at tech startups.

"Hard work, determination and perseverance are innate in the Jewish people," said Jake Bernstein, senior business development manager at Bonfyre. "I think Jews like myself apply those tenets and behaviors to our work lives and can easily manifest them in the startup world. Knowing it can lead to long-term impact, we put in the hard work to benefit everyone.

"Plus, 1871 is a community at its core and Jews are attracted to that as well," Bernstein said.

Bonfyre is one of five companies with Jewish team members who make up the 1871 community. Here's a look at each of the companies and why they work at Chicago's largest incubator.


Bonfyre delivers technology to create a world where everyone loves their job. It is an employee experience platform built to help place company culture in the hands of those most capable of shaping it. Employee-driven digital communities foster vertical and horizontal conversation throughout the organization, promoting higher engagement and more connected teams.

Bernstein says he enjoys working with like-minded people at 1871, where the energy is contagious. In addition, the company is well-aligned with other startups, giving him a space to collaborate and learn every day.

"1871 has robust resources focused on workshops, mentorships and events that make it feel like a community and cultivate our company to help grow," Bernstein said.

UpStart Lab

UpStart partners with the Jewish community's boldest leaders to expand the picture of how Jews find meaning and come together. Whether someone is starting a new Jewish venture or reimagining what an existing one has to offer, UpStart gives them the entrepreneurial tools and network they need to build the Jewish community of the future.

The company is currently in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and New York. They have worked with over 40 early-stage organizations and have helped over 50 Jewish companies create innovative approaches.

UpStart's Innovation Lead Aleeza Lubin says that 1871 provides a natural fit because of their joint missions, in addition to being surrounded by a culture of change. Lubin, a 2015 honoree of Oy!Chicago's Double Chai in the Chi, Chicago's Jewish 36 Under 36 list, says that being in 1871 inspires her team to help enable other entrepreneurs.

"Our impact is greater when our participants have access to different ideas and opportunities outside of the professional Jewish world," Lubin said. "It is easy for everyone to stay in their bubbles and to default to what they know. 1871 helps us push that boundary and be immersed in ideas that are outside our typical realm of possibility."


Through artificial intelligence, NexLP builds the world's leading solutions to solve businesses' biggest problems. They use models to understand unstructured data for concepts such as pressure, sentiment and anomalous patterns. As such, they provide a strong risk mitigation tool to organizations of all types.

The company started in the Techstars 2015 cohort, which is hosted in 1871. After their program, they stayed in 1871 until moving to a bigger office space. Despite no longer working in 1871, NexLP maintains a membership.

"1871 has helped us with publicity, resources, insightful events, recruiting and networking," said Zeke Fraint, NexLP's vice president of growth and operations.

Packed with Purpose

Since 2016, Packed with Purpose creates a meaningful impact through high-quality gifts. They pick a variety of products from over 55 non-profits and purpose-driven companies that create a social impact.

Founded by Leeatt Rothschild, Packed with Purpose supports the financial stability of abuse survivors, adults with disabilities and much more.

Digital 4 Startups

Startups that are small and medium-sized can utilize Reva Minkoff's digital marketing agency to advertise online efficiently and effectively. Minkoff was also named 36 Under 36 in 2015.

Is your startup interested in becoming a member of 1871? Learn more about their startup membership options here .

Adam J Miller photo
Adam is a Chicago native currently living in New York after the temptation of the Jewish scene in the Upper West Side became too much to resist. He graduated from UMass as a double-major in journalism and international sports marketing where he worked for 3.5 ... Read More

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