February 24th, 2012

Cultivating corporate culture: A key ingredient to building a killer startup


Cultivating corporate culture: A key ingredient to building a killer startup

Portland is often recognized for its culture. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. But whatever the case, it’s a town driven by culture—no matter how fleeting.

But culture can also be a key ingredient for startups. From hiring to preventing burnout to getting the most of your work, concentrating on culture can help startups reap any number of benefits. But how?

As luck would have it, two takes on startup culture came to light this week. And as luck would have it, they both happened to have come out on the same day. Out of Urban Airship. Sort of.

Scott Kveton on Urban Airship’s culture

I’ve been lucky to watch UA since its early days. And I know that culture has always been a primary component of the company. And a point of focus for its leaders.

It’s definitely helped them. And that’s why it’s nice to see Kveton putting that sort of thinking into a blog post for other startups.

You’re going to spend a full third of your life working. Why not do it at a place that challenges you with hard problems, let’s you have an insane amount of fun and has a real business model in a burgeoning space? While these are the tactical elements that make up the Urban Airship culture I think the ethos of “work hard, play hard” is at the root of who we are. If you get a chance to stop by the UA offices in SF or PDX I’d be happy to show you what it looks like in practice and you’ll see for yourself that Urban Airship really is a special place to work.

For more, read Building a culture that counts.

Paul deGrandis on Culture, Data, Networks, People

Folks in Portland also know that another part of the Urban Airship culture is giving back to the tech community. As such, they often wind up being host for any number of interesting talks.

So when Paul deGrandis was in town, he took some time to present on the topic of Culture, Data, Networks, People. At UA.

If you missed it, here’s the talk.

And if you’d like to get a closer look at his slides, the deck is available for download on Paul’s site.

Creating a culture that fits your company

So take a some time to figure out your culture. It’s more important than you think. And it can make a noticeable difference on any number of fronts.

But as you’re concentrating on that culture, bear in mind that “culture” is not synonymous with “perks.”

In fact, some cultures—like “we work 20 hours a day, seven days a week”—are arduous at best. But they’re still components of the culture. And hiring and managing to those components can be the difference between making it and losing it.

Now, get to it. I mean, unless your culture dictates you take Fridays off.

(Image courtesy David Burn. Used under Creative Commons.)

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One Response to “Cultivating corporate culture: A key ingredient to building a killer startup”

  1. [...] realize I’ve already posted about Urban Airship once today. And I realize that I’ve posted about UA’s focus on corporate culture. But I came across this video that motivated me to post once more on the subject. So sue [...]


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