Two Chicago companies, SpotHero and Cameo, were named Thursday in TIME magazine’s list of 50 genius companies in 2018.
Cameo, an online marketplace where users can pay a celebrity to record a personalized video, boasts a catalog of 4,000 stars that includes NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, NSYNC’s Lance Bass and multiple Bravo Housewives.
To save its customers the stress of finding a parking spot, SpotHero allows users to prepay for one. Eliminating the need to circle downtown searching for parking curbs congestion and pollution too.
Both companies were chosen for finding a creative solution to a problem and “inventing the future,” as TIME put it.
But it’s the way Cameo resonates with users that scored it a spot on the list, co-founder Steven Galanis believes. “People will say ‘This is the best money I ever spent’ or ‘This is the best gift I ever got,'” Galanis said.
As for SpotHero, CEO Mark Lawrence said it’s the company’s problem solving that made it a “genius company.”
“Nearly everyone has experienced the challenges that come with parking,” he said. “SpotHero has worked to address this shared pain point and make parking easier for all.” SpotHero users have access to over 5,000 garages and lots in North America.
Galanis said he hopes the nod will cement Chicago as more than just a business-to-business tech scene. “A lot of people think that you can’t build a great consumer business in Chicago, but I think companies like SpotHero and GrubHub and Groupon … and now Cameo are proving that you can,” he said.
Galanis said being among huge companies like Amazon, Apple and Nike is “mind-blowing.” But sharing the moment with SpotHero is special.
“Mark [Lawrence] at SpotHero is actually an investor at Cameo and one of my mentors,” Galanis said. “So any time we can be in the same breadth with them I look at it as an incredible honor.”