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Crain’s Chicago Business

As its name suggests, OpinionLab Inc. makes its living figuring out human behavior.

After nearly 15 years in Highland Park, it became clear that the sentiment of would-be employees had shifted against the suburbs. So the company moved to the West Loop, joining a growing list of tech companies coming downtown in search of talent.
“The demographic we’re going for is 20- to 30-somethings,” says Mark Treschl, co-founder and chief technology officer. “Finding talent that was willing to get on the train was hard. They’d rather get on a bike.”

He knew the company made the right choice soon after the move in June.

“We picked up four engineers just like that,” Mr. Treschl told me recently when I stopped by the opinion-research software company’s 8,000-square-foot headquarters at 549 W. Randolph St. “We don’t have to look nearly as hard (for talent) as we used to.”

OpinionLab has grown to nearly 100 employees, about half in Chicago, from about 85 when it received $15 million from Memphis-based venture fund SSM Partners. It was the company’s first venture investment.

OpinionLab is the second Highland Park-based tech company to move downtown this year. Cappex.com LLC, an online service that connects prospective students and colleges, moved to the West Loop in March.

OpinionLab, which developed software that allows companies to gather real-time feedback online from customers, last year ranked second on Crain’s Eureka Index of the area’s most innovative companies based on a review of their patent portfolios by Ocean Tomo, a Chicago-based merchant bank and advisory firm. OpinionLab had about $12 million in revenue last year, according to the Inc. 5000 list.

The company increasingly is moving into mobile, as more consumers are using their phones to comparison-shop while in stores. And in-demand mobile talent tends to be young.

“We had to do it,” Mr. Treschl said of the move. “It was just too hard to get talent.”

Although the move was the subject of considerable debate internally, OpinionLab didn’t lose any employees because of it. A few employees work remotely, Mr. Treschl said.


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