These 2 Chicago Tech Companies Are Hiring Now

With clear hiring goals and innovative products, Black Spectacles and Origami Risk have skyscraping plans for growth.

Written by Anderson Chen
Published on Aug. 15, 2022
These 2 Chicago Tech Companies Are Hiring Now
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Unlike the straight lines carefully drawn by architects, the work done at architecture tech firm Black Spectacles is rarely so straightforward. For Founder and CEO Marc Teer, it zigs and zags, a winding process that drives ambition at the 30-person company. But in a field built on creativity, the small team’s passion for the art form lays the necessary foundation for the monumental task of improving the industry and helping the community.

“As a licensed architect, I, like my peers, chose to practice architecture because I fell in love with design, buildings, materials and space,” said Teer. “We have both the responsibility and opportunity to highlight truly world class projects and ideas.”

With grand ambitions for scale come the need for product and people growth. To build out the company in the right direction, there needs to be a plan in place for culture, vision and talent in the right roles. Though it differs for every company, Teer has a blueprint in mind for potential applicants — values driven, ambitious and flexible. He doesn’t yet know where the journey will take the company, but “the ability to change course from time to time is key to reaching their goals.” 

At insurance tech company Origami Risk, the priority for shared values lies in curiosity, collaboration and innovation. Weronika Leja, the company’s HR business partner, describes a wide-net approach to growth: A well-rounded team means hiring from all possible sectors. “We have new colleagues coming straight out of school, from different industries or from outside of the technology space altogether,” she said. 

Scaling is necessary for the goals of any company, but the path to corporate growth is rarely a straight line pointed to the sky. To hear about the strategies of companies looking to make their mark on Chicago’s cityscape, Built In sat down with Black Spectacles and Origami Risk to see how they plan to turn lines on paper into skyscraping teams built to last.

The best part? Both companies are hiring now.

 

Marc Teer
Founder & CEO • Black Spectacles

 

Black Spectacles is an architecture program that aims to help architects become licensed and advance their careers. With test prep and learning software, plus a new platform that showcases the work of architects and connects architectural firms with talent, the company wants to become the leading education and recruitment provider for architects everywhere. With such ambitious market goals, the team has to grow as well. “We’re building our team in all directions to support the growth of our new products,” said Founder and CEO Marc Teer. 

 

Tell us a bit about your growth plans for the months ahead. What teams will be growing most quickly? And what projects or initiatives are driving this growth?

Over the last 10 years, Black Spectacles has become a premiere test prep provider in architecture and in recent years we’ve done a lot of thinking about how we can help architects in additional ways. We’re currently building out our online learning products in order to help architects get promotions and learn the things they really need to know to practice architecture.

On top of that, we’ve launched a new platform called Spectacular. The aim is to be the professional network for architecture and design, so that architects and firms can pair up for career opportunities. It also provides architects with access to a better medium for their portfolios and opportunities to get their work featured in front of peers. We’re building our team in all directions to support the growth of our new products. We’re actively growing our engineering, learning and design teams — everyone involved in the creation of learning content and the technology that supports it, in addition to our marketing team.

We’re looking for ambitious people because we have ambitious plans. It’s very fulfilling, rewarding and fun to achieve them, but it’s also hard work.”

 

What excites you most about this next period of growth? 

Spectacular is a really exciting growth opportunity because it has the potential to connect architects all across the globe in ways that have never been possible before. It gets us to the frontlines of helping architects and firms connect. The company has certainly played a part in that throughout our history of helping architects get licensed. In many cases, getting licensed is an initiative an individual architect might take to find a new job and advance their career. On the other side, firms may provide our test prep materials to their staff in an effort to help attract and retain talent. The platform has the potential to change what’s possible in the field of architecture and design.

 

We’re looking for ambitious people because we have ambitious plans. It’s very fulfilling, rewarding and fun to achieve them, but it’s also hard work.”

First and foremost: values driven. We’re searching for people whose values align with ours because those shared values are the core of our company. Secondly, we’re looking for ambitious people because we have ambitious plans. It’s very fulfilling, rewarding and fun to achieve them, but it’s also hard work. The work we do doesn’t always go in a straight line — it zigs and it zags. The third characteristic, flexibility, is directly tied to that. Being flexible is necessary in order to ride the wave and realize our goals. 

Our core business is stable and sustainable, but these new endeavors are new journeys and we don’t know exactly where they will lead us, so finding people who are flexible is a prerequisite for the ambitious work we do. 

 

 

Origami Risk team photo
Origami Risk

 

Weronika Leja
HR Business Partner • Origami Risk

 

Origami Risk offers software solutions for insurance, risk, safety and compliance, all within one SaaS platform. The company has solution suites tailored to different industries, from construction and education to transportation and healthcare. With such diverse clientele, the team at Origami Risk plans to scale even more in the future. “Investing in new colleagues has been intentional and will not stop as we continue to expand and lead in new markets,” said HR Business Partner Weronika Leja. 

 

Tell us a bit about your growth plans for the months ahead. What teams will be growing most quickly? And what projects or initiatives are driving this growth?

Origami Risk has had a very successful growth trajectory, particularly in the last two years — we have doubled the size of our employee population, hitting a milestone of 600 employees. The company has consistently provided good service on a single SaaS platform and clients want more. This means new areas of expertise we have to bring in to sell, implement and support the growing client base needs. As these departments grow, our internal support functions such as development, finance, HR and product also level up to handle the growing sophistication of our business.

 

What new opportunities or capabilities will be unlocked for your team as more people join, and what impact will that have on the business?

With our rapid growth, we are hiring at all levels in all departments. We have new colleagues coming straight out of school, from different industries or from outside of the technology space altogether. We know it is going to be important to get onboarding and ramp up right. We are investing heavily this year in our learning and enablement team to ensure a consistent and effective experience no matter the background with which you come into Origami. We are looking at the core competencies and knowledge everyone needs to have and bringing it all to life on a new learning platform accessible to all.

We may not always know the answer, but we’ll work together and figure it out for each other and our clients.”

 

What are 3 key characteristics you look for in a new team member? Why are these characteristics important for the work you do?

We look for collaborative, curious and innovative people to join our teams. We are exploring new territories with our growth, and with that comes new challenges. We like people who find that exciting and see the opportunities that brings. We may not always know the answer, but we’ll work together and figure it out for each other and our clients. We are resourceful and problem solvers. Our clients are the reason we are successful as a business, and we value the partnership we create with them. If there’s something we can’t do today, we work to make it possible.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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