AvePoint, a Jersey City-based tech company that helps migrate, manage, and protect Office 365 data, has a classic two-people-in-a-garage backstory. The founders, Tianyi Jiang and Kai Gong, built their first product in a local public library, and the company has now grown to about 1,500 employees.
“The way we see it is, you can break your life up into four pieces,” says CEO Brendan King. “Family, sleep, tasks, and work. If I want my employees to focus on work, I don’t want to take away from their time with their families or from their sleep, but I would like to take away some of those tasks.
Kevin Clark is pulled in a lot of different directions these days: having joined digital knowledge SaaS company Synup less than a year ago, he’s trying to hire lots of new employees, he’s in charge of business logistics on which he’s not necessarily an expert, and his boss might call him at any moment.
Channel marketing automation company SproutLoud had a circular problem: the turnover was bad, which was bad for employee morale, which was causing more turnover. The company’s internal culture was deteriorating—a point at which many startups have struggled to reset their environments, and a point at which SproutLoud’s leadership team took responsibility.
CEO Robert Blatt says the company culture is changing, focusing more on what it means for MomentFeed to be the best place for employees to work. Anticipating change in culture is essential, he says, because what your company is doing well in one period of evolution can prevent it from doing well in the next.
In one year, digital search company Pointy has grown from 13 to about 30 employees, moved into a new office, and seen significant growth in its product, which allows retailers to publishes their inventories online, attracting potential customers nearby. What hasn’t changed much is the company’s culture, says co-founder Mark Cummins.
“I think that culture is one of the few problems that you have to address before they’re problems,” says TechStars co-founder and co-CEO David Brown. “If you’re struggling to figure out how to grow sales, you can wait until sales are in trouble and still turn it around. But if you wait until you’re in trouble with culture, it’s really hard to turn that boat.”
“How we view mistakes is you admit it, you learn very quickly, and then turn it around,” says Sitter.me CEO and co-founder Kristen Stiles. After quoting a client a wrong price, Stiles owned up to the error, and the company develop a new procedure to ensure similar stakes would not be made again.
“Introducing [new employees] to the culture has been very important; it’s important that the people we hire are growth-oriented,” PacketZoom co-founder Chetan Ahuja says. “We want them to already be useful to the business, but their main goal is to grow and to grow with the company. They’re much more valuable that way.”