A tech startup guide to building a strong culture (Part 2)

A tech startup guide to building a strong culture (Part 2)

  • Posted by Marilena Kakkou
  • On September 7, 2022

In case you still don’t have a clear picture of how values, communication, and people shape a startup culture, let’s look at how Metavallon VC’s founders think about startup culture.

Our survey included founders from our portfolio, running startups of different sizes from less than 10 people to 100+ people.

It’s Tough to Build a Corporate Culture in a Remote-Work World!

Having an almost entirely remote workforce is a relatively new concept for many startups. People worked remotely before the pandemic, but COVID-19 lockdowns certainly introduced many more to the idea. This new reality affects how people understand company culture and some startups may be finding it hard to establish workplace culture with hybrid and remote employees.

For Metavallon VCs portco founders, it seems that the remote model works first for half of the companies questioned, followed by the hybrid (35%) and then the office (14%). 

Who leads the startup culture

Putting the right people in charge is essential for any company and its culture.  But whose job is culture building? 

For the majority of our startups, the founder or founders is responsible for the startup culture. As the company grows, the founders still determine culture but in addition it also falls on the responsibility of specific professionals, usually department managers and the Head of People. Founders remain responsible to ensuring the people placed in management roles have the necessary skills to reinforce the desired startup culture.

Communication of startup values to the employees

Nothing is more important to company culture than your values. It defines how you hire and how you have difficult conversations with employees who aren’t treating the company right and are the core of your company ethos and how you operate. 

How does this work in practice for Metavallon’s portfolio companies? We asked our 26 active startups, how do they communicate their core values to their employees and when.

It seems that core values of most portcos are reinforced by the way they work everyday, while they are communicated publicly, all the time, through the website, media coverage and founders.

How to measure your startup culture

Measuring company culture is important in helping you understand what is happening inside your organization. Although many founders can articulate the values they have in their startups, the real question is “How would I know?”

Let’s take a look at how our portcos measure their culture. We should also note that 14% answered that they do not measure their startup culture, while another 14% do it through employee review meetings or external parties.

What are the core values of a startup

Strong core values can drive smart hiring practices, reduce turnover, increase productivity and quality of work, help guide decision-making and improve customer relationships.

Common (and uncommon) traits

On the question, which are your company values, we got 38 different answers from our startups, from  “fun” to “ownership”! Below are the Top 10 core values between our portfolio companies:

Conclusion 

Investors also care about culture and want to know you are creating a workplace that will attract people and drive the business forward. Remember that the numbers are good but it is always the people who drive the business and make a difference.

Concluding with a quote from one of our founders regarding the corporate culture in a startup:

“Culture is hard to achieve, but in the end it is the reference to daily work and any hard decision”.

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