Culture is a powerful driver of success for any company, but in the startup world it’s critical. An intense staff commitment, coupled with rapid growth requires more from culture than in slower growth industries. When things are constantly changing, culture is what grounds you. That’s why digital leaders like Google, Zappos and Facebook have some of the most celebrated cultures.
Startup culture is a recently discovered work culture that is aimed at easing communication, breaking barriers and overcoming hurdles in growth within new startups. Startup culture is mostly known for being creative, laid back instead of rigid, and passion-driven, unlike large corporations.
The term “startup” refers to a company in the first stage of its operations. A startup as its name is suggesting has just been started. With one or more a demand in a certain market is spotted. The group or the individual then sets up a business to supply this demand.
Corporate culture is an organisation's system of shared values, social norms, symbols, and attitudes that shape how employees make decisions, how they act and how they generally feel about the environment at work.
It can include examples of leadership style, relationships with colleagues, customers, etc. and how decisions making steps are approached and made. All these are grounded in a company’s culture and 86% of a company's executives believe that employee performance is greatly affected by culture.
Every type of organisation will set up and build their own culture depending on the type, size and requirement of the organisation. There are three key factors that indicate the importance and characteristics of the best startup culture.
One of the most renowned and best-known startup culture is that of Zappos. Zappos started as an online shop of shoes in the prehistory of the eCommerce, back in 1999. Its founder, Tony Hsieh, invested $500,000 from his own pocket to launch the project.
In 2005, the company doubled its turnover and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, wanted to buy it. But Hsieh turned down the offer, claiming that he did not want his brand and everything that he had achieved with it (its corporate culture, its reputation, its approach to the customer) got lost in the immense Amazon business structure.
Two elements are concluded from the Zappos story: Firstly, it is important for startups to build their culture since as early as Day 1. Secondly, many startup business owners are reluctant to sell their business or add investors because they fear they will lose control over their business culture and that it will be contaminated by external opinions.
There are key areas and important points that entrepreneurs should take note off when building their startup culture and growing their startup as a whole.
"Once hired, the employee goes through a 4-week training program. Tony states: “On it, we go over Zappo’s history, the importance of customer service, our long-term vision and philosophy about company culture, summed by 2 weeks or taking customer support calls. We also offer everyone $2,000 to quit as we want to be sure everyone is there for more than a paycheck.”CEO and Founder, Zappos, Tony Hsieh
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble is a book written by American author and journalist Daniel Lyons. The book describes the author's experiences working at the software company HubSpot and offers a strong critique of the company's management and culture. He gives the perfect insight into startup culture through his first-hand experience, at HubSpot, a software start-up based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Lyons became an official HubSpot employee in April 2013, and it was then that he was introduced to the company’s odd, cult-like practices, and a new world of missions, culture codes and spiritual leaders. He quickly learned that HubSpot wasn’t just out to make money; it was on a “mission” to change the world through unique marketing software. He also learned that HubSpot’s co-founder, Dharmesh Shah, was being referred to as a “spiritual leader” by some employees and clients.
"This hazy way of doing things continued when he spoke to Shah and Halligan, the two founders of HubSpot, about what they’d like me to do. Even though we had a lengthy conversation, it was never made clear what exactly my role at HubSpot would be"
They came closest to outlining a specific task when Halligan talked about providing “missions” for Lyons to go on – but this just sounded like they wanted him to improve their blog to raise brand awareness. While his initial meetings at HubSpot were confusing, Lyons was willing to adapt and tried to remain open to new ways of doing things. A few things that Lyons noticed about HubSpot's startup culture that he outlined in his book are listed below:
While they might be odd, the practices at HubSpot were meant to inspire teamwork and unity. It wasn’t long, however, before Lyons began feeling like a misfit. As an older man, Lyons wasn’t used to open-plan offices that afforded employees zero privacy. The people at HubSpot were hunched over laptops.
But more than that, Lyons had never worked at a company where the startup culture emphasis was placed on forcing “fun” upon employees. This was definitely the case at HubSpot, which featured multiple areas of the workplace that resembled playgrounds. They had a “nap room” that contained a hammock; an area with musical instruments intended for spontaneous jam sessions, though the instruments were never used; and the conference room doubled as a game room, with ping-pong, foosball, pool tables, as well as video games. Lyons was particularly taken aback by how proud HubSpot was of its so-called “candy wall” – an entire wall in the cafeteria composed of glass cases containing a variety of candy bars and junk food.
But this perhaps wasn’t as odd as the time when HubSpot asked its employees to talk to a teddy bear. Lyons was especially bewildered when his boss claimed to have come up with an innovative management breakthrough. Alas, the idea was nothing more than bringing a teddy bear named Molly into meetings to represent the customer they were always trying their best to serve. This was a bit disheartening for Lyons, whose previous boss was the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham. Now he was working for a man who thought that talking to a stuffed animal was an innovation.
Startup culture also affects the bottom line. Even if a company manages to attract the best employees, a negative workplace culture can contribute to a higher employee turnover, decreased motivation, and overall decreased productivity.
E-commerce and fin-tech are booming. The 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), a worldwide compilation by Startup Genome, saw Malaysia’s e-commerce sector grow 47% since 2015 and noted an economic worth of $2.4 billion. The state of Penang, with its large number of tech-related manufacturers, has garnered the nickname “Silicon Valley of the East.”
Malaysia has been steadily building an ecosystem supportive of startup entrepreneurs and innovators. The country is making its presence known in the digital world and becoming known as an entrepreneur incubator. If trends continue, Malaysia’s economy will continue to grow and birth startups across industries.
Malaysia has produced a lot of innovative companies with some that have taken regional positions, while others are going global. A lot of startups are blooming because Malaysia has a got a good startup culture and ecosystem because of being multilingual, multiracial, and a gold pot in terms of talent and culture. Due to this, the digital economy contributes about 18 percent of Malaysia's GDP which is not small. And Malaysia aims to grow it even more for the future.
2020 was a year of budding startups in Malaysia. Listed below are some of the successfully running startups
Lapasar is a B2B marketplace integrated with the e-procurement system to connect buyers and vendors.
Plush Services is a short-term rental management company that is designed to manage their client's Airbnb property for them.
Parkit Malaysia is a P2P online parking platform that helps you find a free parking spot.
Zcova is a diamond company that allows people to purchase diamonds and jewelleries conveniently from their home.
Curlec is a fin-tech company that makes businesses of all sizes to be able to collect recurring payments and control their cash flow.
Click here to read more about Successful Startups and NEXEA's role behind them!
According to Glassdoor's 2019 Mission and Culture Survey, before applying for a job, nearly four in five employees and job seekers consider a company's mission and culture. This is only becoming more important as younger people move into the workforce. 65% of 18-to-34-year-olds are likely to place culture above salary; that's higher than any other age demographic surveyed.
What exactly is good startup culture? Great startup culture allows employees to be themselves, do what they do best, and speak freely to upper-management teams and coworkers. In this article, we took a deep dive into what startup culture really means and how growth-oriented entrepreneurs and innovators leverage the power of culture to achieve accelerated startup results.
If you want to have a competitive advantage in today's market, you must invest in creating an outstanding company culture. Startups that prioritise culture maintain motivated team members that produce better results.