ApartmentJet and 1871: Made in Chicago

From the moment work began on ApartmentJet, we wanted this startup to be different.

In the past, we’ve worked on fully distributed teams. We’ve worked with offshore teams. We knew, given the complexities of this product, the timelines involved, and Kevin’s determination to use modern development frameworks, we needed everyone working together in a room to be successful (at least most of the time). We also knew we wanted to capture some of that startup energy you don’t always find while working in small, enclosed, secluded spaces.

In Chicago, the place for startups to capture that energy is 1871.

For those who don’t know, 1871 is a non-profit tech incubator based in Chicago’s famous Merchandise Mart. Founded in 2012, it has grown to become “the hub for the city’s thriving technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem.” It’s a place where inventors, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and investors all share a co-working space. The resulting energy and vibe are tremendous.

We liked it for its tangible as well as intangible benefits: networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs, introductions to investors, free seminars, a central location in the city, and a lively communal office space with plenty of room to meet and focus. Plus, it offers amenities difficult to fit into a startup budget like one of the niftiest computerized coffee makers ever invented.

It’s safe to say 1871 has met or exceed all our expectations. That’s why we wrote this blog. We’re proud of our city. We’re excited to have such an awesome tech hub in our own backyard, and we want to tell everyone about it. We can’t recommend it highly enough, and that’s not just because we met David Schwimmer at one of the events.

But Wait, there’s More: 1871 Recruiting

If we had to choose one service from which we’ve most benefited, we’d select 1871’s recruiting services. The fees are tiny compared to a regular staffing company, and the service is fantastic. It’s personal. It’s professional.

We partnered with Laura Fendrich and Ashleigh Jones to build our team. They worked constantly to filter out the noise and deliver us candidates they felt best fit ApartmentJet’s technological and cultural needs. Each candidate was well researched and pre-interviewed. With every resume, they included informative summaries and offered personal thoughts on the candidate’s potential fit. When you’re busy building prototypes, talking to potential clients, and seeking investors, this type of help is priceless.

As a result, we’ve built a rockstar team. We did it quickly. And again we can’t recommend highly enough the service and the people.

(The communications team rocks, too, by the way. And they sit right next to us! Hi guys!)


But all this is just blog talk. What about more personal experiences?

Jordan Hui, Rick Chou, and Patrick Koeller are full stack engineers on the ApartmentJet team. We politely cajoled them into answering some non-technical questions related to their 1871 experience. They took it in stride. Below are their responses.

Question: How did you learn about 1871?

Jordan: Prior to the recruiter reaching out to me, I hadn’t heard of 1871, but over the course of interviewing, the recruiter explained what 1871 is. Now the fact that I wasn’t aware of such a large tech incubator before baffles me.

Rick: I learned about 1871 while I was looking for a software development job in Chicago. A few of the companies I had interest in were housed at 1871.

Patrick: I learned about 1871 while I was researching startup communities in the Chicago area.

Question. Describe your experience with 1871 recruiting. How was the communication?

Jordan: I haven’t been in the tech industry very long, but out of the recruiters I’ve talked to, 1871 was the most pleasant. It didn’t feel like I was talking to a robot going down a checklist. My recruiter was Ashleigh and throughout the whole interviewing process, she would ask me how it’s going and let me know what my interviewers thought. Usually for me, the recruiter would only be responsible for the initial screening and I would never hear from them again for the rest of the process.

Rick: In relation to other Chicagoland technical recruiters I dealt with, 1871 was definitely superb. The communication was consistent and my recruiter (Ashleigh Jones) did a great job relaying information at every step of the process.

Patrick: The recruiting process at 1871 was very straightforward and helpful. It started with an initial call from the 1871 recruitment team after I applied for the position. This covered the basics of if I was going to be a fit for the role at ApartmentJet. The 1871 team had a lot of knowledge on what ApartmentJet was looking for from a technical, financial and cultural perspective. They were also aware of the company’s benefits and other incentives. This was followed up by a call and then an on-site interview with the ApartmentJet team. Throughout the process I was in contact with the 1871 recruiter who was able to answer any additional questions.

Question: What excites you most about working at a startup? Is it exciting? Stressful?

Jordan: The most exciting and probably most stressful aspect of working at a startup is how fast-paced it is.

Rick: The most interesting aspect of being at a startup is simply being on a ground floor of a new company and laying the foundation for something great. It is exciting to develop software and see the work you do make a substantial and immediate impact, something you don’t often see if you’re at an already established company with already established software. There is stress associated with any start-up; a lot of work needs to be completed and you have only so much time to get everything working, but on the bright side, you can’t grow stronger if you’re never challenged.

Patrick: The best part of working at a startup is seeing your effort unfold into a company. I’ve worked at other startups that I have been able to help grow from a small company to 100’s of employees. Being able to have a direct role in building and enabling this to happen has been the most exciting thing I have done in my life.

Question: What has your experience been like with ApartmentJet? Are you learning anything new? Are you excited about the future?

Jordan: We’re a small team, so everything we work on ties together. Because of this collaboration, I’ve grown a lot as a developer – learning new technologies and different ways to approach problems. Also the Star Wars jokes are a plus.

Rick: My experience with ApartmentJet has been great thus far. I think the work I’ve been doing has been interesting/challenging, and I like the people here even if most of them are Windows users. Web development, regardless of what stack you’re in, is always changing and updating, with new libraries, frameworks, techniques, language versions, and so on. In the short time I’ve worked here, I’ve definitely learned quite a bit in regards to web development’s latest accepted practices and ideologies. I am definitely excited for the future and I have a lot of confidence in the work we’ve put in so far!

Patrick: ApartmentJet has been a great company to work at. We’ve been using cutting edge technology which is always exciting and lets us stay ahead of the curve and we are always learning new things. Having just completed an MVP we are getting started on achieving the rest of our goals and building a stable and scalable platform. Being a problem solver, I really enjoy the opportunity to take all of our technical challenges and find solutions for them.

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The open-floor office environment has accomplished a great deal in sparking interest in entrepreneurship, but we can’t forget that the truly substantive work done at spots like WeWork and 1871 is only possible because of breakthroughs in the lab.

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