Startup culture and why it could be right for you

Blog post by ELP Student Sakina Tinwala (Industrial Engineering & Economics | Class of 2020)

 

What’s all the hype about working at a startup, you ask. Most people’s answers consist of company culture as an important value add. Well, there are the outwardly benefits such as being able to wear jeans and a sweatshirt to work, or not being confined to working in a cubicle. But I didn’t really recognize the true benefits until I worked at a startup myself.

 

 

My experience

 

This summer I’m working at Floyd, a furniture design startup based in Detroit. This is obviously a huge change from the last internship I had at a multinational corporation. I’ve realized the sheer difference of company culture at a startup, and how much it can impact employee motivation – and being able to wear jeans isn’t the only factor.

Floyd is a team of only 16 people, and we work in a quirky little office in the Eastern Market. One of the things I love most about working at Floyd is the transparency of goals between verticals. My favorite time of the week is the Monday Morning Meeting, where every single person at Floyd blocks off an hour to go over the previous week.

 

Communication comes first

 

Every meeting starts with a slide of the Mission, Vision and Values of Floyd. We then proceed to run through updates on big events or projects to get everyone on board with what’s happening. Each vertical goes through their weekly metrics – this is super useful because if a metric is not as expected then someone else in another vertical may know why and clarifies the discrepancy on the spot. This provides immediate clarity for both the founders and the respective teams.

Finally, each team head overviews their goals for the week, and with whom they need to collaborate with. Another amazing thing about Monday Morning Meetings is that people are given shoutouts where they’ve done an amazing job. This culture of appreciation motivates people bright and early on a Monday morning, and the meeting sets the pace for the rest of the week.

 

Visual accountability

 

Something else that I find really useful is that every vertical has a small section of the wall, where we sticky note our goals for that week. Then twice a week, we go over our goals with the rest of the vertical, moving our sticky notes around to show to the completed section if they’re carried out successfully.

This is useful because not only are we refreshed on our goals and are able to check back on them when we forget, but it also allows for accountability and clear communication between who’s doing what in each team.

 

Ability to be heard and add value

 

Additionally, each vertical has a weekly meeting, where at least one of the founders is present. Being able to pitch my thoughts and ideas directly to the founders and my boss at these meetings is something I really value, and hearing everyone’s ideas keeps me constantly engaged and learning.

 

Seeing the end product

 

Something I didn’t think about too much when I joined Floyd was that it’s a consumer retail company. The R&D lab is literally in the office space, and there is something really fun about being able to see the physical product behind the whole business being built and tested in your work space.

Company culture is more important than you think – after all you are spending more than 8 hours a day working. Make sure you survive and thrive!