This time last year, San Francisco-based startup Thanx had just launched a new office in downtown Denver. New to the Colorado tech scene, the company immediately set out to plant its roots in the local community.
Today, the office has grown to more than 30 people, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the company’s overall headcount — and it’s not stopping there. What started as a sales office for the company’s customer loyalty and engagement software is now growing into a full-fledged counterpart to its Bay Area HQ.
We took a deep dive into the company’s growth journey and culture with CEO and Founder Zach Goldstein and learned how the Denver office has evolved over the last year.
Tell us a little bit about Thanx's growth journey, and how you ended up opening an office in Denver.
The story of Thanx started about five years ago. We set out to build a product that was unique, easier for merchants to implement and a joy for customers to use. We scaled the team in San Francisco with the help of investments from one of the top venture capital firms in the country, Sequoia Capital.
As we grew, we were adding lots of different roles to our team, and some of those roles were easier to hire for than others. We were talking to great talent, and we started hearing more that some people were excited to move to San Francisco — and some weren't.
We believe that if we're going to build a truly transformative company, we have to have the absolute best talent around. It became clear to us that, if we were going to live that mission, we needed to open up a second office so we could access talent that perhaps didn’t want to move to California or San Francisco. We explored various places and ultimately settled on Denver because of the rapid growth of the city and the diverse talent pool that is building here.
If we're going to build a truly transformative company, we have to have the absolute best talent.”
What has surprised you the most about joining the Denver tech community?
In Denver, there are, of course, plenty of people who are excited to jump aboard a fast-growing startup. But one key to our growth has been finding people nationwide who are excited about relocating to Denver and joining the tech community. That’s very different than our experience in San Francisco, where we’re hiring largely out of a talent pool that is based there already.
The other thing that I found is that Denver is very community oriented, and we’ve embraced that. Being an active member of the community feels like the right thing to do and also benefits us. In our effort to find the absolute best talent for any role, we want to be on everyone's radar.
How would you describe the company culture at Thanx?
We are mission-driven, so we set lofty goals for ourselves and what we want to be. We’re not just trying to build a cute little company. We think we are changing the game for the multi-trillion dollar offline retail industry. We get everyone aligned around that goal and look for people who want to make an impact. What that means is a culture of trust, transparency and people helping each other.
How is the culture of Thanx’s Denver office unique?
Denver’s office culture is a little more sales-oriented than San Francisco’s, so it’s really fun. We celebrate. There are gong rings. You might see some beers break out a little earlier than expected if it’s been a big sales day.
We also try to focus on building a community that experiences the city. We take happy hours outside, we host recruiting events on our rooftop, and we give people flexibility. We have a “take what you need” vacation policy, and we really mean it. If we’ve recruited well, we know people aren’t going to abuse that policy. They’re going to work hard to drive the company forward. A “work hard, play hard” attitude fits well with our culture and what we’re trying to do.
What traditions, activities or rituals do you have that further foster culture?
In order to recognize people who live our culture, we've created a series of what we call “plus ones,” which look like poker chips and can be given out by managers and peers to individuals who demonstrate a core behavior.
Every year, we do a big holiday and beginning of the year kickoff party and then an outdoor summer party. Those are both paired with a volunteer day in the community and have become big elements of who we are.
We also have a pretty transparent culture. Every two weeks we have an all-hands meeting, and there is a “no question is a bad question” anonymous Q&A, where I take the time to answer questions that have been asked by employees — and everything is on the table. It reinforces that anyone can have an influence in the company and ask a question that has exposure to the executive team.
Dave Collier, our head of sales, has one-on-ones that are available to anyone — kind of like office hours. I do the same. We like finding these opportunities to get to know everyone on the team.