What’s it really like to work at Chicago startups and tech companies? Blue Sky’s Inside Job lets people on the ground tell us in their own words.
Brian Sanchez, 30, Resolutions Specialist at Reverb
I see Reverb as home base of the lifestyle that is being obsessed with gear. It’s an online marketplace for music gear. You have buyers and sellers of all types, anything from very well-established brick and mortar stores all the way down to mom and pop shops. And then you’ll have individual collectors.
More often than not, people think of guitars first, but you have everything from drums to studio equipment — anything under the sun that produces a note or a rhythm, it’s here.
A little bit about me and my gear obsession: If Reverb existed when I was 12 or 13, it would have been my No. 1 site.
There’s a brand in particular that was just the ultimate for me called PRS: Paul Reed Smith. If you’re familiar with Carlos Santana — my parents used to buy me play-like-Santana VHS tapes — he plays that brand. They’re really beautiful guitars.
About two and a half years ago, just kind of cruising the internet, I found one listed on this website called Reverb. I ended up chatting with the seller. He was so passionate about the guitar; he was really into telling me the story of how he bought it, and some of the shows he played with it.
It made that purchase all the more special, to be able to learn about the history of that guitar, and then when the time came when I was wanting to find work in a field I was passionate about, I came to discover Reverb is based in Chicago. Just, how perfect!
Reverb started in 2013. I’ve been at the company for almost two years now. When I started, there were about 60 of us. We’re at just under 150 now (in a Lakeview office on Lincoln Avenue).
We are six on the resolutions team, which is part of the customer engagement team, which is about 35. People generally call in for simpler things, like “I forgot my password,” or “How do I upload a photo to my listing?” But on occasion, there’ll be things that require a little bit more time to really resolve something. More often than not, I’m looking at things like damage claims. That’s really the bulk of our time.
I used to work in clothing, at a call center for H&M. Was I passionate about mass-produced clothing? No, but I did like helping people. Now when I’m helping folks, I share the same passion.
I got a fellow that purchased a PRS guitar, an ’85. His is a special model that was custom-painted and kind of looks like a hot rod. This guitar is like my holy grail. This thing is a unicorn. I can’t believe he even found it.
Unfortunately, that guitar was damaged in transit. But we were able to help. I immediately started telling him about my guitar, and we connected. I genuinely want this guitar to be back in playing shape for him. We really bonded over that.
I was born in Andersonville, and I grew up in Morton Grove. I grew up speaking Spanish — my parents are from Bolivia — and that was a big part of why I started at Reverb. I was the first agent who spoke Spanish here.
I still take Spanish-speaking calls, so I’d love to be able to contribute in that sense. In my old job, I was working in a bilingual team, so hopefully, we can get to a point where having something like that might be necessary, and I would love to help build out the Spanish-speaking voice of Reverb so it mirrors what our culture is already about. We have a lot of people who are motivated and who care and who want to contribute to this being bigger.
The vast majority of people here do play instruments. I would actually have a hard time telling you who isn’t a musician here. You’ll see a lot of guitars next to desks. It really is at the core of what we are.
I’m lead guitar in a cover band called Taking Back Emo. It’s all emo from what we call the Myspace era. It’s a lot of Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, all that good stuff. It’s just so much fun. After work, folks will gather on the couches and start jamming out.
It was really cool when Billy Corgan came in (to promote gear he’s selling on Reverb). Just think about it: You’re working, and here comes Billy Corgan walking through. We can’t all bum-rush him or anything, but how cool is it to know that he’s walking through your office, casually?
John Petrucci, he plays guitar in a band called Dream Theater, and he’s just this incredibly proficient, very technical guitarist. Hearing someone like that in the room next door while you’re working, you’re just like, “Wow, I’m listening to one of the best guitarists in the world right now. It’s just surreal to be experiencing that.”
As told to freelance reporter Erin Chan Ding. Stories are edited for length and clarity.
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