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Lightbank Design Launches to Immerse Up-and-Coming Designers in Tech Startup Community

Chicago-based VC offers first-ever practical design fellowship program outside of Silicon Valley

CHICAGO, Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Lightbank, a venture capital firm founded by serial entrepreneurs Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky, has launched Lightbank Design to provide emerging design talent with mentorship and real-world experience working with Lightbank-backed startups.

Lightbank Design is a paid 3-month program in which designers will hone their skills working side-by-side in Lightbank's office with some of the most innovative minds in its portfolio of more than 50 early-stage technology startups. Additionally, Lightbank has partnered with The Starter League – an educational program in Chicago that offers classes in coding, design and development – to identify the next generation of designers seeking hands-on business experience in the technology industry.

Lightbank Design is geared toward promising young designers – including recent college graduates or graduates of The Starter League – and will be offered during the winter, summer and fall. The deadline for winter program applications is January 31, 2013. Interested parties can apply at http://www.lightbank.com.

"No matter whether the application is business-facing or consumer-facing, design is one of the most critical differentiators between good and great technology," said Brad Keywell, co-founder of Lightbank. "We are believers in the power of great design, and our goal is to nurture and expose top design talent to real-world situations where they have the opportunity to interact with an array of emerging technology entrepreneurs and businesses. For designers in this region, this is a first-of-its-kind program to be integrated into the startup community."

In addition to working with Lightbank-backed startups, the program will offer ongoing seminars developed to educate and inspire the designers. Speakers will include leading designers from the Chicago Ideas Week platform, and Lightbank Design members will be invited to attend select sessions in the design track at CIW in October 2013.

"Design-first is the new product strategy, and designers are essentially the new hackers," said Ashish Rangnekar, co-founder of BenchPrep, a Lightbank-backed startup. "User interface has become a key value proposition, which is why we're so excited that Lightbank is launching this program. Users care as much – if not more – about the usability and design of the product as they do about the features, so it's crucial for us to find talent that can help us stand out in the marketplace, attract new users and carry out our overall vision. We hope to develop long-term relationships with the designers beyond the program itself."

The launch of Lightbank Design not only embodies the firm's commitment to attracting and developing emerging design talent, but it also adds to the suite of Lightbank's in-house resources offered to its portfolio companies.

About Lightbank:

Lightbank is a Chicago-based fund focused on early-stage technology companies. Founded by Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, who are founders of Groupon, MediaBank, InnerWorkings (NASDAQ: INWK) and Echo Global Logistics (NASDAQ: ECHO), Lightbank not only makes investments of capital, but also takes an active hands-on role in helping entrepreneurs ensure their early- and mid-stage businesses grow and succeed. To learn more, please visit www.lightbank.com.

CONTACT: Jackie Lampugnano, +1-873-216-8796, jaclyn@lightbank.com

SOURCE Lightbank

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