(Series) C Is for Culture
Since I started Appboy with my cofounders Jon Hyman and Bill Magnuson, I’ve never stopped thinking about what kind of company I want to build with them. How we will lead a market we have come to pioneer, how we will create a product our customers will love, how we will get people to join us and share this vision, how we will be different than our competitors. Through a journey of four plus years I’ve discovered something incredibly important—that it’s not just about the product.
Being successful at this stage, keeping our momentum going, and securing our Series C funding has all boiled down to one thing.
Plenty of startups want it, make it a focus, talk about it, but not many really HAVE it. I’m referring to that overused but often misinterpreted ingredient: Culture. Some think having a great culture means getting everyone cool swag, taking pictures together, fist pumping, having a ping pong table in the office, and serving free lunch. Many think they can replicate the culture of Google or Facebook and have it work for them. That’s where many go wrong.
I’m often asked why I started Appboy, why I go to work every day to build and grow the company. What’s it for? My answer has always been to build a place people love, that I love. A place where we can grow, build amazing things, have fun, learn, where our work means something, where we know what we did today made a difference, where there’s no drama and full transparency, where we all just want to win. Where we feel heard. That’s a culture, built from the ground up.
At our quarterly New Hire Onboarding sessions, what we refer to as “NHO” here at Appboy, I give a quick presentation on the history of Appboy, how we got here from a chance meeting at a street crossing, and what’s at our core. We emphasize that each new hire is a leader, each person counts and keeps us afloat, that there is no room for assholes or bullshit in the office, feedback is essential, and transparency, being humble, working together, coming in to win is what we are all about.
Yes we cater lunch and we have great swag, but the core is being bigger than our competitors, staying humble with our wins, learning from our losses, and not taking what we have for granted. Yes we are at war with our competitors, but focusing on ourselves, on being genuine, true, and real, is what has allowed us to grow to the 120 people we are today across San Francisco, New York, and London. Our culture has allowed us to assemble the best-in-class Go To Market team (thanks to our CRO Myles Kleeger), and the incredible product and engineering team (thanks to my cofounders Jon and Bill).
What we have at Appboy cannot be replicated; our competitors cannot build the culture we have from when it was Jon, Bill, and I to what we have today with our respective VPs and managers. This culture is the secret sauce of our platform, the fabric of our company; it is in the air; it is real. It is unique to Appboy.
Huge thanks are due to our customers and partners for believing in us (thank you!). We hope that our culture is felt by our customers the second we walk into the room. We aim to convey our sense of becoming an extension of their team, not hesitating to roll up our sleeves, and never selling something we do not have today. This sentiment is felt across marketing, engineering, product, design, operations, sales, and our customer success team. We’ve been able to work with the top brands in the market and we are so grateful for that.
In this market where growth rounds are getting all the scrutiny, it was our culture that allowed us to prevail. Our Series C could not have been done without the people at Appboy. We only succeeded because of their commitment and drive to build and dominate together as one. We have a special thing at Appboy and I am grateful for being the CEO of an amazing company. Thank you to each one of you for believing in Jon, Bill, Myles, and me, for believing in your respective managers, working endless hours on new features, bugs, designs, customer needs, RFPs, white papers, and the list goes on. Your commitment to Appboy is everything. To all of our loved ones—partners, Mom, Dad, siblings—thank you for supporting us to do what we do. The hard work does not go on without all of you in mind. Thank you; we are forever grateful for you.
With our new funding my number one focus will be to build a company that stays true to our roots, where we are all looking out for one another and continue to encourage each other to be better and grow each day. We must all continue to keep it weird (all you at Appboy know what I mean)—never let that go.
In this market more than ever, Series C is all about Culture. Either you have it or you don’t. We have it. Let’s keep our hands together and never forget what we are about.
Congrats to each one of you at Appboy, our customers, and our investors.
Rock N Roll,