The Rise of 1871 Chicago: Official Launch

1871, a new collaborative work space for digital startups and entrepreneurs launched May 2nd in Chicago as the new home of over 65 local startups.  Managed by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, the new space takes its namesake for the year in history in which the city rebuilt itself after the famed Chicago Fire.

The new 50,000 square foot work space, occupying part of the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart, can accommodate up to 500 individuals, seeking flexible work environments where resources and mind power can be pooled together and support, mentorship, and ideas abound.Entertainment at 1871 Launch Party

Additional space is also allocated for venture capitalists, investors, and local universities looking to partner with the startup community, as well as Code Academy which boasts two instructional classrooms at 1871.

We had the privilege of accompanying  one of our partners,, who was one of the 65 startups already accepted into 1871, to the open house and official launch events.

In case you missed out on all the festivities or were unable to get a ticket to the evening launch party, we decided to share some of our highlights of the day!

First, be sure to check out the morning media coverage from the local ABC Channel 7 news:

If you’ve never worked with a startup, the vibe is typically a little more laid back, but the work ethic is fierce.  While it was a day of celebration and excitement, everywhere you looked, entrepreneurs were hard at work, even when at play.

Matt O'Brien of

Matt O'Brien of

Matt O’Brien of entertained us with his mad helicopter skills as he explained the current challenges his site faces along with their revenue models and how the site has developed since it originated (talk about multi-tasking!)

The afternoon held some great panel discussions regarding the emerging digital tech and startup communities in Chicago posing questions of how Chicago can continue to attract (and keep) great talent and grow to be a center of influence and innovation.  Great minds from the likes of Google, Siri, Apple, local universities, and the like were invited to speak.  Hopefully you caught some of the highlights on our twitter feed (or on 1871’s twitter.)

The evening launch party was a robust celebration of mingling, company elevator pitches, fun, food, and entertainment.

We caught up with a few of the 1871’s newest tenants as well as other area entrepreneurs looking to make connections at the evening’s event.

It was great to hear all the exciting ideas surrounding the new ventures and to hear about the “race” amongst tenants to see who could grow the fastest and be the first to “graduate” from 1871.

It was like music to our ears over at, because growth generally means hiring!  In fact, we overheard Eli Rosenberg with Food Genius mention they were already projecting to be recruiting for new roles in August of this year.

Mingling at 1871 Launch Party

Eli Rosenberg, Food Genius & Chris Wieland,

With all the great energy in the room, we were excited to see some of the startups incorporating social components to their business models as well.  Todd O’Hara filled us in on his company Toodalu which offers a new kind of loyalty rewards program that puts money back in your wallet and generates donations to the charities you support. (Now, who doesn’t like to put money back in your pocket!)

If you’re a job seeker who might be the slightest bit curious about exploring a new path or find yourself tired of the corporate world, we strongly encourage you to check out some of the innovative (and fun) companies calling 1871 home.

But don’t stop there!  With a new startup launching in Chicago every three days, there are probably thousands of great new companies opening their doors across the country (and the world) that are worth looking into and keeping an eye on as they grow, for job and partnership opportunities.  Keep your eyes peeled and see what’s out there.

And who knows, maybe none of them peak your interest, but they might just inspire you to follow a passion or idea of your own and pursue starting your own company.

For those of you at the launch party, you know there was plenty to get the conversations going and the imaginations sparked. Digital Graffiti Wall

Digital Graffiti Wall at 1871 Launch

From faceless characters dancing and acting as silent tour guides, to digital graffiti walls and team action photos, there was plenty to stimulate the brain and remind you that we’re only scratching the surface of where startups like the ones at 1871 will take us in the near future.

With companies like Groupon paving the way for startups in Chicago, we can expect to see some companies pushing to follow their rapid growth patterns.  And that’s good news on the horizon, especially for already in-demand jobs like software developers and engineers. But when these companies boom, there also going to need to fill traditional job roles like HR managers, assistants, sales, and customer service representatives.

Not only are we excited about the opportunities this community is creating, we’re also excited to see the innovation and changes surrounding talent acquisition and talent management that the rise of startup hubs like 1871 will bring and ‘disrupt’ the industry norms.

DJ at 1871 Launch Party

1871 Launch Party!

We’re so excited that the week of May 21st, we’re going to devote a week of content focused on the entrepreneur, startup, and small business community.  Whether you’re already a part of that community and need access to tips and guides on how to bring on talent or you’re trying to get your foot in the door with a startup, we’ll be providing content all week long to address what you want to know, and what you didn’t know you needed to know!  So stay tuned to

In the meantime, here’s a few more images from the fantastic launch at 1871 to enjoy:

The crowd at the 1871 Launch Party

The crowd at the 1871 Launch Party

Street Trainer Team at 1871 Launch

unknown, Marlow Metcalf, CEO, & Jerry Yudt, COO, Street Trainer Team at 1871 Launch

Dinesh Ganesarajah, PreScouter (L) and Austin Asamoa-Tutu, SweetPerk (R)

Dinesh Ganesarajah, PreScouter (L) and Austin Asamoa-Tutu, SweetPerk (R)

Faceless Entertainers at 1871 Launch Party

Faceless Entertainers at 1871 Launch Party

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About Robin Rayburn

Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog,, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.

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