“If you have the right team, the right employees, then they don’t have to be there physically,” says Kristen Stiles, co-founder and CEO of babysitter-finding app Sitter.me. “If you don’t trust your employees to work at home, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.”
“I think it’s important to have marketing leadership from a cultural standpoint,” the company’s VP of marketing, Corey O’Donnell says. “Marketing isn’t just what you tell the world about your business, it’s also what you tell your employees.”
“We are a company that values transparency,” says the company’s CEO, Antonio Tomarchio. “Every month we present to all the people across the company everything that’s going on. I believe that not only it’s the right thing to do, but also that it’s always the best long-term strategy for success.”
For many locally focused tech companies — including NextDoor, SweetIQ, ibotta and G/O Digital — transparent sharing and openness at all levels is inviting a new workplace generation led by women.
“The culture starts at the top and stays with the top and there is nothing more important than leading by example in that respect,” says CEO Kristen Stiles. Her company, Sitter.me, connects parents with local babysitters.
New tech startups might not have a formula to create culture, but many leaders consider culture an important component for success. Though every company is different, some trends emerge: leaders must be transparent, they must hire for fit, and they must give employees a way to feel that they partially own the company.
“Startup culture doesn’t just mean a stocked kitchen with burritos in the freezer and tons of snacks in the kitchen, or jeans in the office,” says the company’s communications VP Dave Heinzinger. “It means everyone has the ability, from the CEO on down, to roll up their sleeves and really go to work on whatever needs to be done.”
“There has to be a process around the strategy to support the goals of others,” says founder David Pachter. “The people driving innovation are the ones on the front lines, working with clients and products. That groundswell of direction and changes, they don’t happen if you don’t have open channels of communication.”
“It’s been a challenge as we grow with how to disseminate information,” the company’s HR vice-president Alison Meadows told Street Fight. “We’ve been conscious about getting the next level of leaders below the senior leaders involved in decisions, because they’re going to have to roll them out.”
“Startup culture is very unique,” says Stylu’s CEO Justin Colombo. “There’s no such thing as rules. It’s good to have structure, but we’re very open-minded. We’re just moving forward naturally according to our culture and our style.”