Why Chicago? 4 tech companies share how the city shapes their culture

by Alton Zenon III
January 31, 2019

Why come to, or stay in, Chicago? Between the professional opportunities, the people, and all the things to do, the response to this question may seem obvious to those of us already here. But for the less initiated, the reasons may be a little less obvious. 

We heard from four tech companies about why they chose Chicago as a home base, and how the city continues to shape their operations and culture. 

 

Optiver team members working around a computer
image via optiver

Optiver is a tech-driven trading firm that specializes in pricing, execution and risk management. Chief Operating Officer John Rothstein said the company realized early on that Wall Street wasn’t cutting it, and decided Chicago was a much better place to be.

 

Why did you choose to set up shop in Chicago?

When Optiver first came to the U.S. in 1999, we opened an office in New York City — the world’s center of finance. It quickly became apparent that Chicago is the real home of derivatives trading in the U.S., so we relocated shortly after that. With most of the major derivatives exchanges located in Chicago, including the CME, CBOE and CBOT, the right access, business connections and talent are right at our fingertips.

It quickly became apparent that Chicago is the real home of derivatives trading in the U.S.”

 

How does Chicago continue to influence your company?

We identify with The Second City as an offshoot of our headquarters in Amsterdam. We are not the original Optiver location, nor the largest, but we continually aim to be the best. We also reflect “The City that Works” in how we operate — our best employees are known for their combination of ingenuity, work ethic and grit.

 

Maropost team at posing for group photo
image via maropost

Maropost is a cloud-based, data-driven sales and marketing platform that includes features like customer relationship management and referral management dashboards, as well as cross-channel campaigns and analytics. Sara Schroeder, vice president of people, said keeping up with the other companies in the world of Chicago tech keeps Maropost on its toes and operating at a high level.

 

Why did you choose to set up shop in Chicago?

As Maropost continued to grow, we wanted to do so in a way that expanded our North American presence into the U.S., and also allowed us to tap into a rich talent base. Chicago provides us a U.S. base and a wealth of talent in a city that’s dynamic, competitive and tech-friendly.

Chicago provides us a U.S. base and a wealth of talent in a city that’s dynamic, competitive and tech-friendly.”

 

How does Chicago continue to influence your company?

We are fortunate to be among a number of innovative, growing companies in Chicago that provide us with friendly competition and help spark creative thinking. Our culture is first and foremost about creating a challenging, team-oriented opportunity focused on achievement. The extras like snacks and ping pong are great, but they aren’t meaningful if we aren’t accomplishing big things and taking the time to celebrate our successes.

 

Bento for Business team gathered for photo
image via Bento for Business

Bento for Business helps small and medium-sized businesses manage their expenses with employee debit cards paired with custom expense-management software. CEO and co-founder Farhan Ahmad said the city’s people, in their talent, diversity and likability, helps drive success at the company. 

 

Why did you choose to set up shop in Chicago?

A lot of cities now have thriving tech scenes, so our initial list of expansion possibilities was quite large. However, for me, choosing Chicago was an easy decision for two main reasons. First, it’s a natural fit because I think Chicago really reflects the Midwest ethos of substance over style, and that’s the mold we’re building our company on. Second, having worked and lived in Chicago for many years, this city has always been close to my heart, so there was definitely a personal bias there.

The unique thing about Chicago tech talent is their diversity, and we take full advantage of that.” 

 

How does Chicago continue to influence your company?

We’ve hired some incredibly talented, nice, fun people here. This combination leads to a great company culture where we create lasting value for our customers and have fun doing so. In addition, our customer base is very diverse. We don’t just target tech companies but small businesses across a wide number of industries. Therefore, a key part of our success is hiring a diverse workforce whose input is critical for us to build a product with such universal appeal. The unique thing about Chicago tech talent is their diversity, and we take full advantage of that. 

 

OneSpan team seated outside on rooftop
image via onespan

OneSpan is a cybersecurity company that helps financial institutions and other businesses protect the identities of their customers through solutions like e-signatures and a mobile app security suite. Chief Financial Officer Mark Hoyt said location was everything in terms of proximity to customers, convenience for staff and having awesome meeting spots.

 

Why did you choose to set up shop in Chicago?

We needed our headquarters to be in a location that would help us attract top talent, facilitate easy travel for our international colleagues and reflect the speed at which we work to meet our customers’ needs. Ultimately, we chose Chicago because it checks all of those boxes. Also, the Riverwalk is a great place to have an afternoon team meeting.

Being in the heart of Chicago’s downtown tech community, our team is able to brainstorm with IT security and cybersecurity peers.”

 

How does Chicago continue to influence your company?

OneSpan’s culture is built on a spirit that combines collaboration and speed. Being in the heart of Chicago’s downtown tech community, our team is able to brainstorm with IT security and cybersecurity peers, walk to visit customers and easily commute. 

Jobs from companies in this blog32 open jobs
All Jobs
Finance
Dev + Engineer
HR
Internships
Legal
Marketing
Operations
Product
Sales
Sales
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Product
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Operations
new
Optiver
Chicago
Operations
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Developer
new
Optiver
Chicago
HR
new
Optiver
Chicago
Marketing
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Developer
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Developer
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Developer
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Operations
new
Bento for Business
Chicago
Internships
new
OneSpan
Chicago
Developer
new
Optiver
Chicago
Developer
new
Optiver
Chicago
Developer
new
Optiver
Chicago
Sales
new
Maropost
Chicago
Sales
new
Maropost
Chicago
Sales
new
Maropost
Chicago
Sales
new
Maropost
Chicago
Marketing
new
Maropost
Chicago
Marketing
new
Maropost
Chicago
Marketing
new
Maropost
Chicago
Marketing
new
Maropost
Chicago
Finance
new
Maropost
Chicago
Finance
new
Optiver
Chicago
Developer
new
Optiver
Chicago
Developer
new
Optiver
Chicago
Finance
new
Optiver
Chicago
Finance
new
Optiver
Chicago
Finance
new
Optiver
Chicago

Chicago startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Chicago
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Software Engineer Jobs in Chicago
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Offices in Chicago Tech
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Sales Jobs in Chicago
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Chicago Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Your Guide to Healthtech in Chicago
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Data Science & Data Analyst Jobs in Chicago
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Marketing Jobs in Chicago