Street Culture: Signpost on Being a Scrappy Startup
“All right, cool, let’s take a half hour off the phones and see how many desks we can build.”
The Denver-based staff at Signpost, a marketing automation technology company that launched in 2010, is a hard-working, efficient team helping to drive the company’s success. The Denver office is only two years old, but the team is already outgrowing its second local space. Justin Donnarumma, director of sales, said that when startups are looking to expand, the most important thing to do is hire the right people: People who can do the job, and also, in some cases, people who are willing to build desks.
“The hardest part when coming out here [to Denver] was that a few reps and I had to build the whole office,” Donnarumma said. “We would do competitions, like how fast we could build desks. That’s part of being with a startup. We had some support from corporate, but we mostly had to do everything.”
Donnarumma began as a sales rep for Signpost in New York City in 2011. A year and a half later, the company put him in charge of opening the new Denver office, originally located on the 16th Street Mall. The team grew so quickly that it needed a bigger office space. Donnarumma facilitated that move as well.
“I had to drive the moving truck,” he said. “We were the movers and the employees. That’s the kind of scrappiness we look for in new hires.”
The new office at 2363 Blake Street is nearly at maximum capacity with more than 100 employees, but Donnarumma says they’ll “figure something out” as the team continues to expand. Signpost employs more than 300 employees in total.
“You have to hire the right people,” he said. “We want them to grow with the company, so we look for people who fit the same values that we’re trying to create. Culture is important.”
Balancing the company culture while growing so quickly is a challenge, but Donnarumma said that Signpost achieves that balance with tight training practices, set schedules, and a fun, caring atmosphere.
“What you see in here is what you’re getting,” Donnarumma said. “It’s lively, people care about each other. We want our office to be the best, but we care about the company. People know we’re going in the right direction; we have a great CEO and we have a lot of trust in him. We’re just following in his footsteps and his work ethic.”
The Denver office is in a remodeled horse stable, with high ceilings, snacks everywhere, and upbeat music playing on both floors. A crowd of employees streamed out the front door for their morning 15-minute break, grabbing snacks and candy on their way out. Donnarumma said the culture from the New York office has truly spilled over to Denver and to Signpost’s Austin, T.X. location.
“The people are a little different,” he said. “In New York you have that hustle and bustle, in Denver it’s ‘I want to get outside and go to the mountains,’ but overall, when you go to the different offices, it’s pretty much the same. There’s a reason for that. We know what we want to hire for. We hire people who care about the company, who’ll do whatever it takes. We want scrappy people who can come in and learn and do sales.”
Signpost has genuinely embraced its rapid growth. Donnarumma said the opportunities for employees to move up are the most striking thing about working there.
“I was moved into my role after a year and a half,” he said. “If you are a good employee and do well and hit numbers, you’re going to move up in the company. There are so many avenues, so many channels. The opportunities here are legitimately endless.”
Donnarumma spoke of several employees who had no experience in sales, but excelled at Signpost after completing sales training. One hire had never done sales before and being a little pushy didn’t come naturally to her.
“She was the most coachable rep I’ve ever had,” Donnarumma said. “Now she’s one of the highest-level execs on the national [sales] team. We have so many stories like that, of people who had never even sniffed sales. They come in and learn and run through the ranks because they’ve earned it.”
April Nowicki is a contributor at Street Fight.