4 ways Jellyvision, Enova and ContextMedia deal with hyper-growth

Carlin Sack

File 38022

Hyper-growth is a problem every entrepreneur can only hope they will have one day. Thankfully it’s a problem many Chicago tech companies are dealing with right now. ContextMedia co-founder Shradha Agarwal, Enova CEO David Fisher and Jellyvision CEO Amanda Lannert shared their growing pains during a Techweek panel last week which was moderated by Brad Serot, SVP of CBRE. Here’s the top tips they offered to entrepreneurs trying to keep up with the high-growth stages:


1. No matter how fast you are growing, always recruit the best and the brightest


Lannert: “We consider our job descriptions to be the most important marketing we've ever done. We have to tell a story.”

Agarwal: “We recognize people as people first. One thing we've debated in the past few months is what the recruiting process should look like. Now it involves 10 to 12 ContextMedians; so every ContextMedian is always looking for the next best talent. In 2006, we didn't realize how it was important it was to hire according to values. When we realized our employees didn't align with us in 2009, we press reset and rebuilt our team.”


2. Nail down a rockin’ office space


Lannert: “Our space is a backdrop but not the whole story. We have lots of winding passageways, so it's very ‘neighborhood-y.’ The real character comes from the individuals as they come and go.”

Fisher: “We now have expanded to nine floors in the same building. We grew too fast and took any space we could get. It's incredibly uncollaborative, but it’s important to keep everybody under one roof.  We have 700 people here in Chicago. When we've had people work remotely, it is much more difficult.”

Agarwal: “Thanks to Brad, we have a great new office. An office should always feel like a place to call home.”


3. Keep your culture intact


Agarwal: “We have massage chairs, yoga classes, treadmills and more. We are creating a healthy environment every day. Using the space as a forum is an incredible advantage.”

Lannert: “One of the things that happen when mistakes are made at a growing company is resorting to policy. I try to strike policy and just say, ‘Use good judgement. You matter and what you do (or don't do) matters.’”


4. Pick the right city to call home


Fisher: “Chicago is a much easier place to recruit not to mention a much easier place to live.”

Agarwal: “All the ingredients for success are right here… like the Midwest values. People smile back. And in Chicago, it's all rising tide; it's ‘we’ not ‘me.’ That's something we've seen in our team. There is an innate desire to be communally competitive.”

Lannert: “Chicago is in Jellyvision’s DNA. Also, Chicago is somewhat immune to to the talent war going on out in Menlo Park.”

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