Scaling Culture: Why it Should be Your Startup’s Hiring Focus

From unlimited vacations and catered meals to video games and a beer on tap – you name it, startups have it. But successful startups also have to meet the demands of a growing business by rapidly hiring more people. And while growth is a good problem to have, executives need to make sure employees are first and foremost satisfied with the work they do and the culture they’ve built, rather than just the perks.

Matt Novick, our Chief Financial Officer, discusses the challenges of scaling a successful startup in the super competitive advertising technology industry. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What critical challenges does a scaling business face?

A: Maintaining a thriving culture may not seem like the most obvious answer, but it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle. As PlaceIQ grows it’s important to continually emphasize why people come to work here in the first place. There’s value not only in an enjoyable workplace, but in a company’s culture to drive business outcomes and innovation. With that in mind, we got our employees more invested in the hiring process by asking them to craft new PlaceIQ values that define the culture and the right type of person to work here. These have successfully been rolled out company-wide. Employees live the experience every day, so they ought to be responsible for driving the culture forward. Our employee base has grown at more than 100 percent year-over-year and our client base is growing at 300%. This rapid growth requires a unified and productive team, so scaling the culture has never been more important.

Q: Describe in one word your office environment

A: Relaxed. Our open office inspires innovation and fosters collaboration among and across teams. Put simply, if employees aren’t comfortable, business results won’t meet expectations. While an entirely flexible workspace may not be the right fit for every company, employees need to take advantage of the freedom to work in ways that boost creativity and output. In our office, lounges and kitchens allow for a change of scenery or spontaneous conversation with members of other teams. Optional standing desks keep our employees from sitting hunched over at a desk all day. Then there’s our open floor plan, which encourages efficient conversation and the exchange of ideas.

Q: Is collaboration across several teams and 100+ employees really possible?

A: Yes! Our employees really are a family. The social interactions stem directly from our inclusive hiring process and lead to an atmosphere unlike any we’ve witnessed. Employees who spend time with one another outside of work develop relationships that go beyond work done in the office. This professional and personal relationship has the invaluable effect of boosting productivity and retaining employees. While the phrase “work hard, play hard” may be overused, this mindset often gets our teams through work-related challenges and onto team-building or celebratory events.

Q: What’s different about your hiring process?

A: We involve each employee in the hiring process. We’ve found that great people build great culture, and not the other way around. To attract great people, members of the PlaceIQ family judge which candidates would be the best additions to the company. While job requirements vary across positions, there are key traits our employees look for in every candidate to determine if they are “A Players.” We’ve found that empowering employees to select people they relate to drives our culture to grow organically along with the rest of the company.

Q: What else can Startups do to maintain their culture while growing fast?

A: Celebrate the smallest wins and largest milestones together. At four-years-old, we know the recent doubling of PlaceIQ’s workforce and five quarters of surpassed goals can be greatly attributed to the employee retention our culture generates. Dedicated and satisfied employees who feel a direct connection to positive results tend to build better and longer-lasting relationships with clients – not to mention create better products that drive new business.

To learn more about PlaceIQ’s culture, check out our careers page and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.