“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.
“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.”
Every month, one half of the company’s employees travel to visit the other half of the employees — the engineering team is located in Oslo, Norway and the commercial team is in New York City — as a culture-building activity, giving employees a chance to connect while in the same time zone.
The right way to build a company culture: it’s different for every company, every leadership team, and every squad of employees. CEO Tim Fagan says that when G/O spun off from TEGNA, the strategy to build culture was intentionally developed with just three short, simple values: accountability, quality, and urgency.
“What happens a lot of times in corporations is you find that decisions are made that can’t be questioned,” says CEO Shekar Ramen. “We don’t have any of that and we want to maintain the flat nature of our company as much as possible.”
The company has relied heavily on employees to be efficient outside of their comfort zones. Co-founder and CEO Bryan Trussel said that he hopes Glympse is a fun and challenging place to work, and he believes empowering employees is one way to make sure that happens.
The company’s CEO said he is witnessing many on-demand companies slowly but surely go out of business, and is more convinced than ever that offering that extra little bit of knowledge to customers is what will inspire them to spend more time with Thirstie, and return to the app on a regular basis.
“One hundred and eighteen people is not a lot, but corralling those opinions is a more difficult task,” said Margie Mader-Clark, the company’s VP of human resources. “It’s about a stewardship of culture, taking care of it, making sure the negative aspects go away as early as possible.”
Translating the desire to support business owners with successful on-demand functionality relies heavily on DoorDash’s 200 core employees. In 2015, the company expanded from three markets to 22, and CEO Tony Xu says he expects the company to double in size in 2016.
In the Street Culture column we launched in 2015, Street Fight began looking more closely at the clever, fun, and smart ways startups in the hyperlocal industry are building culture into their organizations as they scale. No two companies we spoke with were the same, but many are driving their cultures along the same tracks. Based on our interviews, here are the top four culture-focused priorities for startups to address in 2016.