The UrbanBound Blog

Chicago Tech Scene: What You May Have Missed This Week

Posted by Kinga Skowronek on Aug 22, 2014 12:51:02 PM

It’s an exciting time for Chicago’s Tech Community! The inhabitants of Chicago are designing, inventing, and innovating many industries and shaping Chicago to be one of the leaders in the tech scene space. From talking cars to an alcohol delivery app - read on to find out some of the exciting tech news and developments taking place in Chicago.

Talking, Self-Driving Cars in Chicago

How are Chicago and the surrounding suburbs helping out with the innovation of car technology? 

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According Crain’s Chicago Business article, “Chicago Hitches a Ride on the Connected Car,” in the West Loop, Nokia employees are developing the technology that will allow cars to communicate with not just other cars on the road, but also traffic signs and smartphones.In Vernon Hills, engineers are busy with creating a connection within the car between the navigation system to phones, tablets and the cloud. But the Chicago connection doesn’t stop there! In Mount Prospect, Littlefuse is working a new technology for sensors that are used in cars and elsewhere in the West Loop a startup is devising a wireless charging system for cars.

Chicago is well-known for being a powerhouse for electronic design and wireless communication and mapping, and it’s exciting to see that it’s on the forefront in developing talking, self- driving cars.

“Making vehicles connected is a critical capability,” ABI's Dominique Bonte says. “We've left the era of talking about it, and now we're starting to see implementation. Every carmaker in the U.S. is rolling out their connected-car solution. . . . It's no longer just BMW or (General Motors') OnStar. It's a must-have.”

Key Takeaways from Chicago Innovation Awards Media, Capital and Talent Day

This week the Chicago Innovation Awards held their event Media, Capital and Talent Day at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. According to a Chicago Innovation Awards survey the three most common challenges were gaining awareness for new products and services, raising capital, and finding and retaining talent.

Blue Sky Innovation published a great article, “9 Ways to Get the Best Employees, Get Coverage and Get Funded,” which outlines the key takeaways from the event. The Chicago Innovation Awards are bringing attention and education to Chicago’s rapidly growing and thriving tech scene, and this year they will consider and name Chicago’s top tech companies from a pool of 550 nominees.

Alcohol Delivery App Gaining Momentum

Why is there no app for delivering alcohol? The co-founders of Drizly wondered that themselves, and decided to solve the problem with their alcohol delivery app. Currently, Drizly is available in only 5 cities of which Chicago is one of them, but they plan to expand rapidly. A Chicago company invested in the alcohol delivery app and their investment is already showing to be fruitful as the revenue has been doubling every month since January. The app promises speedy and convenient delivery of alcohol to your front step. Upstart

Boston Business Journal sits down for an interview with Drizly CEO Nick Rellas in their coverage of the new venture. Check out the video here “Drizly Plans Major Expansion as Demand Grows For Its Alcohol Delivery App.

Chicago Among Top Cities For Fastest Growing Companies

Chicago is a top ranking city for America’s fastest growing private companies according to Inc.’s Annual 5000 list. In its 33rd year, Inc.’s annual list provides graphs, statistics and an overall picture of how America’s businesses are doing. With 95 companies qualifying, Chicago was able to secure second place for most companies on the list after New York

With many of the companies being tech related, these numbers are showing the impact the thriving Chicago tech scene is having on the economy and job opportunities in the city. Crain’s Chicago Business dives deeper into the numbers in their article, “Chicago Among Top Cities For Fastest Growing Companies, Inc. Says.

 

If we missed anything, let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Chicago, Innovation

[Infographic] The Data Behind Generation Y

Posted by Aria Solar on Aug 21, 2014 4:24:00 PM


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Millennials are the future of not only our businesses, but of our entire world. While they have been known to take a bit of a different approach to things, their generation is not wasting any time making their mark in the workplace.

Gen Y is coming in with a purpose, and they are not wasting any time. They have their own way of doing things, and sooner or later, companies are no longer going to have the option to fight that.

Luckily, the future of your businesses is in good hands. Millennials want to be leaders, they want to make a difference, and they want to leave the workforce knowing that they had an impact on someone's life.

That being said, shaping them into leaders will not be difficult, it will just require Baby-boomers to put some extra time into understanding exactly how they function. The more employers can understand the research and statistics behind Millennials, the more effectively they will be able to work alongside them and peacefully coexist in the workplace. 


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While a few of these statistics are startling, there are ways to work around them and develop strategies your company can implement to please their desires. 

Your Millennials want to be leaders? Give them a chance to lead. 

This doesn't have to mean promoting them to VP of Sales - give them small opportunities to prove their worth and make them feel important. Let them lead up a project, give them an intern to manage, or try creating growth teams within your company to take some of the burden from your leadership team. 

Your Millennials want flexibility? Make them earn it. 

If your Millennials value flexibility as much as they say they do - make them work for it! If they want to work from home one day of the week or leave early on Fridays, set up goals that they need to hit in order to earn that right. This gives them the flexibility they want without hurting the productivity of your company. Doing things like this keeps everyone on their toes, and it keeps your younger generations happy. 

Your Millennials have one foot out the door? Keep them engaged. 

If you have read any of our previous blogs, it comes to no surprise that Millennials are your retention rate's worst enemy. They have been known to be quite the job hoppers, and from the statistics in the above article, their desire to constantly be satisfied can be quite expensive for your company. A solution? Keep them engaged! Believe it or not, their requests are not that outlandish. They want to make an impact? Set up volunteering opportunities. Offer MOOCs. Communicate with them to make sure they are content. Listen to them. They might be demanding - but they know what they want. And what they want might just be in the best interest of your company. 

Interested in learning more? Check out our eBook outlining 6 main differences between Baby-boomers and Millennials and ways to encourage collaboration instead of collision:

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Topics: Millennials, Infographic

Does Your Office Really Need A "Cool" Layout?

Posted by Mike Armstrong on Aug 20, 2014 2:41:24 PM

Today’s business blogosphere has a tendency to scrutinize so many aspects of work-life that people can have passionate arguments about things most of us didn’t even know existed. Kind of like 24-hour news cycles, the world produces so much content that eventually we have to start talking about things without any direct reason or logic. Every so often, however, this practice can lead to some very interesting lines of thought that, if turned properly, can improve your company in a meaningful way. Today we’re going to be discussing one of those topics: the arguments against, and in favor of, having a “cool” office layout.

The environment in which you do your work has an impact on the work being done, that isn’t really up for debate. It’s easier for most of us to get work done in a library than at a Phish concert, a cluttered desk can make it hard to concentrate, and a boring, mundane office space can rub off on your employees. The question is: just how much of an impact does your office’s layout actually have?10412444_s

The Argument For

Employees will be excited to come to work, and stay longer

If you put enough thought into designing your office space, your employees will actually want to be there. Some offices incorporate fun (but not necessarily functional) features like slides, treehouses, and lounges into their design. If it’s nicer than where your employees live, they’re probably not going to have a problem putting in a few extra hours a week. The goal is to design a space that people enjoy being in. You’ll get more enthusiasm, and many more hours of in-office productivity.

Morale will increase

Make no mistake, humans are influenced by their surroundings, anybody who has been inside the Sistine Chapel can attest to that. While you probably won’t end up working inside one of the greatest artistic and architectural masterpieces of all time, it isn’t incredibly difficult to design something unique and great enough to affect the moods of your employees. Deep down, most of us want to work in an office that makes us feel like we’re a part of something special. Design will certainly have an impact on that.

It fosters creativity and collaboration

What do you think the average human finds more inspiring, staring at a brick wall, or a classic painting? If you answered brick wall you probably work in construction, and that’s totally cool, but most people find art at least slightly more moving. Creative, thoughtful office design inspires better quality creative work, plain and simple. While not every department in your company relies on creativity to do their jobs, it’s not something that’s going to hurt.

You can also use your office design to inspire collaborations, even between departments. A cool communal work area brings people away from their desks, and gets them talking and sharing ideas. If you have the space for it, this is one of the best features you can add to your office.

Cool offices attract more talent

You’ve probably heard of some cool offices, either locally or nationwide. Reputations grow, and people say things like, “Man, I would love to work at a place like the Googleplex.” Top talent in any industry is likely to seek out the best places to work, and if they’ve heard how great your environment is, you’ll move to the top of their lists. It also helps reel them in if they’re blown away when they come in for their interview.

The Argument Against

People should be able to work almost anywhere

Let’s be frank for a moment. Do we really need fancy desk chairs, post-modern art, and uniquely cool spaces to do our jobs? Of course not. I can write just as efficiently in a closet as I can anywhere. When did we become such prima donnas that we need a specially designed space? Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do the job you’re being paid to do.

A cool office is an expensive office

If you want an especially interesting but functional space then you’re probably going to need to enlist the help of professionals, and you’re going to have to pay for all of the new fixtures. This stuff isn’t cheap, and it will have a significant impact on your bottom line, especially if you’re a lean startup or a smaller company. In all honesty, a lot of employees would probably rather have a higher salary and more benefits than sit in a $600 chair.

There are more important things to do

At the end of the day, we should all probably spend less time worrying about what our office looks like, and more time focussed on the product or service that our companies provide to the world.

It certainly seems like there are more pros than cons when it comes to creating a “cool” office layout. The key is finding the right mix of cool, functional, and affordable. Assign your company a budget and stick with it, then do the best you can with the resources you have available. Remember, the more successful your company becomes, the more time and resources you can devote to your office’s layout.

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Topics: Company Culture

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