Growing pains: How these Colorado tech companies stay connected as they scale

May 25, 2017

Every startup experiences growing pains as they scale. And no pain is more common than that of a team who has grown up and grown apart. As companies double, triple and even quadruple in size, employees can feel increasingly siloed and disconnected from their colleagues.

To encourage stronger bonds throughout their teams, these growing startups focus on initiatives — both inside and outside of the office — that keep their company connected.

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The Trade Desk employs over 500 people in offices all around the globe. In the last year alone, they’ve grown by over 65 percent — adding around 200 new members to the team. With growth like that, one can imagine how challenging it must be to build a cohesive and collaborative company. Talent acquisition associate Casey Rabiea shared how The Trade Desk sticks together as they scale.

How does your team stay connected as you continue to scale?

Most of the teams at The Trade Desk are spread out across the globe. A majority of our communication is over email, Slack and video conference. Most teams have weekly or bi-weekly meetings, where all locations get together over video conference. Some teams also have quarterly events to promote team collaboration and bonding.

Also, once a year, The Trade Desk holds an event for the entire company called Palooza. Typically, the Palooza was held in Ventura, California where our headquarters is located.  However, this past year it was held in Los Angeles since our company’s growth could not be accommodated by the local Ventura hotels.

How has your company culture been impacted by your growth?

As our company continues to grow so rapidly, our number one priority is to ensure that we are not compromising our company culture while we’re doing so. We take a lot of pride in our hiring process and always want to ensure that we’re screening candidates for our core culture competencies, which include grit, EQ, humility, collaboration, good judgment, proactivity and generosity.

 

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Digabit has grown steadily over the last year, bringing their team roster to around 50 employees. No longer the small startup they were just a few years ago, the company — and specifically their CEO Alan Sage — goes to great lengths to ensure everyone feels supported, heard and happy, whether through team volleyball leagues or anonymous employee feedback. PR specialist Julia Marvin shared how Digabit keeps the team engaged as they grow.

How does your team stay connected as you continue to scale?

We have monthly all-company meetings. Our CEO (Alan Sage) leads these meetings, giving him a chance to connect with employees and update everyone on what is happening. We also use the meetings to welcome and introduce new employees and recognize team and individual accomplishments.

We have monthly happy hours, each with a different theme. We’ve also had employees take the lead in organizing events, which shows how involved everyone is in the culture. We have a Digabit volleyball team that plays every Monday night in a local league, which the company is sponsoring.

How has your company culture been impacted by your growth?

Recently, our CEO worked with our executive team to redefine our mission and vision statements, which are being used to help shape our culture. Alan then met with each department to talk about the mission/values statements, our culture, and to answer questions, to make sure all employees are on the same page.

One tool we are using to help evolve our culture is called TinyPulse. It is an employee engagement platform that gives leaders online tools to measure and improve company culture. Instead of sending out a yearly employee engagement survey, TinyPulse allows us to get feedback year round. Every week, employees are emailed a question related to working at Digabit.

The platform also allows users to send “cheers for peers” and voice any concerns or give suggestions. The responses are anonymous, unless the user chooses otherwise, so employees can give their honest feedback. All of the results and comments are sent to our CEO, who takes the time to personally respond to individuals. TinyPulse gives us the ability to identify what is going right and what needs improvement and to make changes throughout the year to continue to have a positive workplace.

 

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Brandzooka was founded in 2015, and they’ve experienced incredible growth in the two short years since. They’ve tripled in size in the past twelve months, and in February, they landed a $1.5 million seed round that they plan to use to nearly triple their team again. As the company braces itself for another major growth spurt, co-founder and COO Kelly Dotseth explained how she and CEO Aquiles La Grave strategize for successful scaling.

How does your team stay connected as you continue to scale?

We handcuff every new hire to Aquiles for their first week. If they’re still alive at the end of the week, they generally stick around. We try to keep the team pretty connected. Most of us are on Slack pretty close to 24 hours per day. We have some fun channels for non-work related banter. We try to sporadically plan team events, have fun at the office and take the entire company to lunch every week for some team bonding.

How has your company culture been impacted by your growth?

We’re still pretty weird. We tell everyone we hire that we promise that they’ll work harder at Brandzooka than they’ve ever worked in their life, but in return they’ll produce the best work of their lives. In order for that to work, you have to have fun and passion engrained in the company.

 

Photos via featured companies. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

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