River North and the West Loop play home to fledgling startups galore. But once tech companies really start revving their engines, many of them turn their sights on the bustling heart of Chicago’s economy: the Loop.
Here’s a glance at seven of the Loop’s sexiest tech offices — and they’re all hiring.
Who they are: Sprout Social is a fast growing software company whose platform offers social media engagement, advocacy and analytics solutions for many a household brand name company, including Anthropologie, GrubHub, Hyatt, Spotify and Zipcar.
Why they love the Loop: "It is really important for us to have our entire team on one floor because it facilitates communication across departments and fosters a sense of unity amongst our various teams,” said Sprout Social’s VP of Operations, Rachael Pfenning. “Additionally, we need a location that is friendly to public transportation. The Citadel Center checks both of those requirements and is unique in that it can accommodate our rapidly expanding team, with room to grow."
Office square footage: Sprout Social just signed a brand new, long-term lease on the seventh floor of the Citadel Center that spans 64,000 square feet.
Best place for lunch and/or happy hour: “While we have lunch delivered every day, Brightwok on Adams is a favorite for when the team goes out.”
Who they are: VISANOW Inc. helps streamline the visa application process through the happy marriage of innovative technology and smart, informed people. VISANOW works to remove confusion and tediousness from the equation, leading to a faster, more transparent, and more cost-conscious immigration service.
Why their office space rocks: “We designed VISANOW’s new space to be reflective of our business — transparent and collaborative — and to ensure the well-being of our employees so they can continue to provide an extraordinary level of service to help individuals grow, businesses succeed and families reconnect,” said Dick Burke, president and CEO of VISANOW Inc.
Office square footage: Approximately 30,000 square feet.
Best place for lunch and/or happy hour: “Just one??? Food trucks and Rustle+Roux for lunch and Stocks and Blondes for after work get-togethers are popular options.”
Who they are: Founded in 2004, Enova is an online financial services provider that's powered by smart technology and analytics. Since its launch, the company has already made online loans possible for more than three million people across the globe.
Why they love the Loop: “With tons of restaurants and a myriad of transportation options, the Loop is the perfect spot to attract top-notch tech and analytics talent from all corners of Chicago," said David Fisher, CEO. “It’s that talent that has helped fuel our rapid growth, and it’s great to have a vibrant space downtown that fits our people and collaborative work style.”
Office square footage: 165,000 square feet
Best place for lunch and/or happy hour: “O'Neil's is a favorite for after work drinks when we're not making use of our own kegerator.”
Who they are: Raise is one of Chicago's most successful tech startups and the world’s largest gift card marketplace. With Raise, buyers can shop for gift cards to their favorite stores and sellers can earn money for any unused gift cards they have on hand.
Why they love the Loop: "Our headquarters is located in the Sullivan Center,” said George Bousis, founder and CEO. “Right in the heart of Chicago's oldest shopping district, we’re surrounded by thousands of retailers while revolutionizing the payments industry."
Office square footage: 50,000 square feet — but a current expansion means they’re adding another 25,000 square feet
Best place for lunch and/or happy hour: For lunch, some of them head to Oasis Cafe on North Wabash, and for after work drinks you might find Raise employees at Chicago Athletic Association on Lasalle.
Who they are: PowerReviews' software is an essential tool that more than 1,000 brands and retailers rely on to corral and display online reviews across 5,000-plus websites. PowerReviews arms consumers with the insight they need to make smart decisions as they shop — and gives brands actionable data that can help improve products and services and increase sales, too.
Why their office space rocks: “We recognize that not every person is most productive at his or her desk, so we designed our office space to create working spaces that would be conducive to everyone,” said Kira Meinzer, Vice President, Human Resources. “We have standing desks, treadmill desks, couches, chairs, and meeting spaces in open areas — all to appeal to different working styles and encourage impromptu conversations and collaboration.”
Office square footage: 20,000 square feet
Best place for lunch and/or happy hour: “Our own kitchen! We get lunch catered in each Tuesday from a different restaurant and have monthly happy hours. Also, a lot of people in the office are big fans of Blackwood BBQ.”
Who they are: Peapod’s innovative Peapod Propulsion Lab (PPL) is located in the heart of Chicago and acts as home base for many of the company's tech visionaries, who work to keep Peapod's Internet grocery empire up and running.
Why they love the Loop: “We moved our developers and creative team down from Skokie two years so there would be more interaction with the tech community here in the city,” said Dan Vulinovic, senior recruiter.
Office square footage: 7,000 square feet
Best place for lunch and/or happy hour: One of the PPL team’s favorite places is the French Market.
Who they are: In short, Centro's platform makes digital advertising easier. The software, which is targeted at enterprise-class clients, helps wrangle all digital media campaigns into one central hub, where they can be organized and automated across all channels.
Why they love the Loop: “Building a beautiful physical environment is critical to creating and maintaining a happy, creative, imaginative and hard-working atmosphere,” said Shawn Riegsecker, founder and CEO of Centro. “The Sullivan Center is a 19th-century architectural masterpiece located at the corner of State and Madison Avenues — literally, the center of downtown Chicago. I’m excited for Centro to anchor a technology revitalization in the heart of the city in the Loop.”
Office square footage: 70,000 square feet
Best place for lunch and/or happy hour: "For lunch and after work drinks, our folks go to Remington’s, Atwood, The Gage and Cindy’s Rooftop (inside Athletic Association Hotel)."