For Some Chicago Tech Companies, Hiring is the Key to Growth

by Amina Elahi
June 20, 2013

In Chicago, a new startup launches every 44 hours. It is no longer a secret that this city’s tech scene is growing, both in the number of new companies and in their diversity. But while some new startups are making waves, a handful of more established companies are rising with the tide.

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Take GoHealth, for example. For 12 years, this online portal has helped individuals compare and purchase health insurance. In that time, GoHealth has served over two million customers. Not only that, CEO Brandon Cruz says the company has seen 65 percent growth over the past five years. How does he explain that growth? Cruz says it’s a combination of company culture and hiring the right people.

The team there is 350 strong and growing. “The heart, soul, and brains of any company are created by the people inside of it,” Cruz says. “If you constantly strive to hire the brightest, hardest working people and ensure everyone is properly motivated and driven in the same direction, your chance of success is far higher.”

For many of the local tech companies exhibiting impressive growth, hiring is an important factor. Here’s a look at some other companies boosting their growth with hiring right now.

Braintree: This payments processing company came to be in 2007 and acquired mobile payments company Venmo in 2012. Braintree also ranked on Inc. 500 in 2011 and 2012. Today, the company processes $8 billion annually and is doubling its volume every six months. Currently, the Braintree team numbers about 125 but will expand in offices in Chicago, New York City and the Bay Area. Check out their interview with NBC here.

Guaranteed Rate: This 13-year-old mortgage lender is the eighth largest in the country and the only company that offers an all-digital loan application process. Last year alone, the company processed more than $14.7 billion in loans. Today, half of its 2,600 employees are based in Chicago, with 50 dedicated specifically to Guaranteed Rate’s digital initiatives.

Enova: This eight-year-old global financial services provider offers clients in four countries eight different credit products with over two million clients served. Here in Chicago, the team is 1,000 strong with half of those manning the 24/7 call center. In 2012, the company’s revenue crossed $661 million and $140 million in EBITDA. Over the past four years, Enova’s growth rate has been 31 percent.

kCura: The company behind Relativity, software that helps corporations and legal firms with their e-discovery needs. For the past 12 years, the company has built its base of users to over 76,000. Today, kCura employs 274 people and plans to add 120 more by the end of 2013. Having exhibited 5,775 percent growth from 2007 to 2011, kCura ranked 31st on Deloitte’s list of 500 fastest growing technology companies.

Centro: This 12-year-old digital advertising firm processes $250 million a year. The past five years have seen 65% growth and CEO Shawn Riegsecker says he wants to add 150 individuals to his 330-person team this year. He also says his company partners with 500 advertising agencies to serve 2,300 advertisers across the country. Most importantly, Riegsecker said at a recent luncheon hosted by Built In Chicago that his company may seek an IPO in 2015.

Perhaps these companies no longer qualify as startups, but there’s no denying their roots either. Founded and grown in Chicago, these organizations represent the type of longevity local outfits are capable of given time, resources and, of course, the right people.

(Pictured, left to right: Bob Napoli of William Blair, Bill Ready of Braintree, Brandon Cruz of GoHealth and Shawn Riegsecker of Centro at May's Digital Leaders Luncheon. Photo by James Richards.)

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