School’s out for startups

Catapult is kicking four startups, and the $12 million they’ve raised, out of the nest today.

The latest graduates of the River North tech incubator’s 18-month program:

BidMed, an online marketplace for used medical equipment.

BucketFeet, which sells sneakers designed by artists.

Shiftgig, a job database for the service industry.

Tempo DB, a time-series data service.

The startups were picked to join Catapult after pitching their businesses to the incubator’s “resident” companies. Catapult founder Galen Mason calls it a “hippie-ish” way of running things.

Bucketfeet is a bit of an anomaly among Catapult’s typical tech startups. The residents took in the footwear company — with its “art is for everyone” mission — because of CEO Raaja Nemani’s contacts and its marketing track record, Mason says. While in the program, Bucketfeet secured $4.5 million in funding, amassed more than 100,000 Facebook likes and grew revenues by 1,200 percent, Nemani says.

Shiftgig literally outgrew Catapult. Along with raising $3 million in funds, the company went from six employees to 20. Shiftgig is ready to go out and develop its own culture, says co-founder Eddie Lou, which will be easier to do in its new River North office.

TempoDB raised $4.1 million at Catapult. And BidMed, which Grid wrote about this week, raised $300,000.

Catapult itself is a youngster. The nonprofit incubator was founded in 2012 and has graduated 12 companies, including Dabble, Techli and MentorMob.

Grid is a media sponsor of Catapult Chicago’s graduation party.

ABOVE: Grid’s Mindie Kaplan raised a glass with the guys from Bucketfeet in August.

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