“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.”
“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.”
Getting rid of job titles and helping people detach from job titles are two of the biggest challenges around refocusing a company on its culture and its values, CTO John Schnipkoweit says. At Choozle, the culture is focused around the product it is creating, and allowing that product to drive the company.
Wholesale ecommerce retailer Boxed is taking its position as team leader seriously. The company pays for its employees’ kids to go to college. It looked at the industry-wide “pink tax” and started a campaign against the higher prices. It even started contributing $20,000 to pay for employees’ weddings.