5 Colorado tech companies on why they didn't leave culture up to chance

by April Bohnert
April 25, 2018

Company culture — both good and bad — is not an accident. Creating a culture where people thrive and get excited to come to work every day takes effort and alignment for every stakeholder in the business, from the founder to the newest employees.

We talked to five local companies about the steps they’ve taken to curate a meaningful and positive culture and how those efforts have evolved over time.

 

Eave intentional company culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of Eave.

 

Eave’s online lending platform is focused on providing qualified homeowners with ethical loans that keep their best interest at heart, and that philosophy is at the core of the company’s culture. People Lead and Loan Officer Laura Campbell gave us some insight into that culture and how it merges science, fun and people to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and heard.

 

How would you describe your company culture?

Eave’s culture is fun, quirky and joyful, while also intentional in very meaningful ways. From dancing panda bears and a crocheted doll named Alice who bestows wisdom on us daily through her #Alice-Says Slack channel to homemade temporary tattoos, karaoke spin classes and chocolate traps, we know how to let loose, have fun and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

Our culture welcomes people from all walks of life and creates a safe space where they are able to bring their whole self to work.”

More importantly, we have set an intentional culture to ensure equal pay for equal work, unconscious bias suppression and gender-neutral parental leave. We have leaned on neuroscience to inform how we give and receive feedback in ways that support each other's growth every day. Our culture welcomes people from all walks of life and creates a safe space where they are able to bring their whole self to work.
 

Has it always been that way or has it evolved over time?

Eave’s culture has, of course, evolved over time, but the core foundation of who we are and how we operate has remained steadfast from the beginning. Culture is so important to us that we brought on a head of people as our tenth employee.

Our mission is to make ethical mortgages easy, and how we define “ethical” has spilled over into everything that we do — from how we protect user data, to the vendors we partner with, to how we interview to ensure we support all people from all backgrounds, support diversity and give back to those who need it the most. These first principles guide us in how our culture develops along with us.
 

What actions do you take as a company to reinforce or nurture this type of culture, and what impact has this had on the business as a whole?

At Eave, culture is the responsibility of everyone. This “all hands on deck” approach to cultural development and sustainability has been hugely impactful and has brought out the quirky in all of us. For example, each month we rotate who is responsible for celebrating birthdays. The person responsible brings their own unique approach to these celebrations, so it’s never the same twice and is always personalized, meaningful and special. The impact here is strong. It increases joy and oxytocin in our brains, which increases engagement in our work, which drives our business forward.

 

Pax8 intentional company culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of Pax8. 

 

Pax8 aggregates and delivers cloud services for managed service providers, making it easier for SMBs to bundle and customize cloud services to meet their needs. VP of Sales Jared Pangretic discussed how the company’s scrappy bootstrapped roots have translated to a culture of passion and comradery.

 

How would you describe your company culture?

Simply put, Pax8’s culture centers on having a family feel. The comradery and support we have for one another are unparalleled by anything else I’ve experienced in my professional life. Walking through our office, you sense the energy of forward-thinkers who seem to continually find the balance of cultivating a laid-back environment while being results-driven.

The comradery and support we have for one another are unparalleled by anything else I’ve experienced in my professional life.”

Has it always been that way or has it evolved over time?

One of the greatest aspects of Pax8 is that we are all united in our mission to disrupt the tech industry. From day one, our small group of individuals set out to do something transformative, and it’s just grown from there. Our values (elev8, innov8, advoc8, celebr8), which were formed early on, are constantly represented, even as we continue to mature as a company.

 

What actions do you take as a company to reinforce or nurture this type of culture, and what impact has this had on the business as a whole?

The actions we take to live out our values and reinforce the positive aspects of our culture start with the people we choose to be a part of the Pax8 family. We look for like-minded individuals who challenge us to be progressive thinkers. From there, we take the time to get to know the unique qualities of each and every person.

We recognize others by giving props on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis when people can earn their “wings” by doing exemplary work in their respective departments. The positive impact seems pretty straightforward but is cultivated by continuous dedication to our mission. People like me can catapult their career through working tirelessly for something they truly believe in. It’s in large part due to our culture that I believe Pax8 will continue to thrive.

 

Flowhub intentional company culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of Flowhub. 

 

Founded in 2015, Flowhub’s cannabis industry business management and compliance platform — and the team that supports it — continues to grow a rapid pace. Chief of Staff Brandon Hickman explained how the startup’s culture has evolved with this growth and how his team takes steps to ensure they’re creating a place where people want to work every day.

 

How would you describe your company culture?

I’m proud to say that the Flowhub team has built an incredibly collaborative and supportive environment, one where people are approached with positive intent and there’s no such thing as a closed door. A lot of companies talk a lot of fluff around culture, but Flowhub truly makes a valiant effort.

Before, it was about getting the ship built and afloat; now is the time to build up the crew and set sail.”

Has it always been that way or has it evolved over time?

Creating a company culture that people want to be a part of requires intent and consistency. These two things can be tough to apply to something as seemingly ambiguous as culture — especially at the beginning stages of building a thriving company in a booming and ever-changing industry. As Flowhub’s growth has stabilized and we’ve been able to take a step back and focus on optimizing every area of our business, we’ve made culture a top priority and filter every decision through the lens of how it affects our employees. Before, it was about getting the ship built and afloat; now is the time to build up the crew and set sail.

 

What actions do you take as a company to reinforce or nurture this type of culture, and what impact has this had on the business as a whole?

As a leader at Flowhub, I make it a point to approach every problem from a position of positive intent; as in, the problem at hand isn’t here because someone wants to ruin my day or dropped the ball. This problem exists because we’re simply running a business; problems come up and we’re the ones charged with solving them.

I believe this approach creates an atmosphere where employees feel supported in voicing their opinion and contributing to the conversation. I’ve seen that when employees feel supported, they become more collaborative and take more ownership of problems and end up delivering better results.

 

Conga intentional company culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of Conga.

 

Conga helps businesses run more efficiently by offering a suite of tools that simplify the automation of data, documents, contracts and reporting. Justin Mongroo, director of worldwide business development, shared how Conga encourages every employee to take ownership of the company culture.

 

How would you describe your company culture?

Our culture is one of energy and empowerment as we continue to celebrate the accomplishments of our teams. We are committed to fostering success and growth in our team members while taking immense pride in the products and services we deliver to our clients.

Culture is not something that happens to people but something that every employee is part of creating themselves, for themselves.”

Has it always been that way or has it evolved over time?

Culture is an evolving process that must be nurtured to sustain itself. It is not a moment in time but rather a continued commitment to the belief that successful companies are comprised of successful people who are encouraged to deliver excellence to both internal teams and customers.  
 

What actions do you take as a company to reinforce or nurture this type of culture, and what impact has this had on the business as a whole?

We consistently remind our leaders and teams that culture is paramount to long-term success and the ability to build a team that grows within an organization. We also allow our employees to hold themselves accountable for the creation of culture. Culture is not something that happens to people but something that every employee is part of creating themselves, for themselves. Asking the employee how they would create the environment they would want to work in is a good first step.

 

Tack Mobile intentional company culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of Tack Mobile.

 

Tack Mobile designs and develops software for mobile and connected devices, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to help its clients stand out. President John Myers explained how the company tries to nurture a positive, innovative culture without imposing too many rules.

 

How would you describe your company culture?

We always try to strike the right balance of structure without imposing unnecessary or unhelpful policies. We're all drawn to this team because we're good at what we do, so we work to cultivate that environment and make sure everyone has something they can learn from everyone else. Probably the most important characteristic — apart from technical skill — is happiness. We find unhappy folks tend to spread that around, and it can be a productivity and culture killer.

We guard the team dynamic and our culture as if the business depends on it — which it does.”

Has it always been that way or has it evolved over time?

We're always evolving. Although, we've gotten to a stable level where we're iterating more than revolutionizing how we operate.

As a client-services company, one perpetual challenge is ensuring everyone stays in touch, as they can be on completely different projects for months and there's really no good, organic way to share what everyone is up to. We built a status board on a large TV over a busy area of the office that shows what everyone is up to at a glance. It has helped, but we're still working on keeping information flowing around the team outside of company all-hands meetings.

 

What actions do you take as a company to reinforce or nurture this type of culture, and what impact has this had on the business as a whole?

Hiring is the most important component of culture. That, and the willingness to admit you've made a mistake and allow people who aren't a fit to find somewhere they'll have more success. Our business is defined by how well we execute on projects, and that, in turn, is dependent on the team and how well we work together. We guard the team dynamic and our culture as if the business depends on it — which it does.

 

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