Powderkeg Tech Culture Awards Spotlight

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INDIANAPOLIS -

Indianapolis-based tech networking platform Powderkeg will present the inaugural Indiana Breakout Tech Culture Awards in September. Last month, 50 Hoosier tech companies were named finalists for the awards, which include categories such as Overall Culture, Emerging Culture and Social Impact. In the first of a weekly series leading up to the ceremony, we spotlight five finalists and what culture means to their companies.

We asked representatives from each tech company a series of questions about company culture:

Springbuk (Indianapolis) - Roger Deetz, Vice President of Engineering

Why is culture important to your company?

Springbuk believes that "extraordinary people build exceptional product." People are the core of our business. We are all different people with different backgrounds, but we all believe in our core values of raising the bar, winning together and never settling.  Everything we do is centered around teamwork to accomplish our mission of preventing disease with data. Our culture is a big part of how we achieve this goal.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

There are many initiatives that we would consider creative but at the core is the commitment to bringing our team together.  We gather all 120+ employees together for breakfast or lunch every other week. We share our wins, our obstacles and our upcoming focus so we know what others are working on and can help each other.  It's this connectivity and vulnerability to each other that makes Springbuk unique.

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

As far as recruitment, every candidate's first step in the interview process is a culture call with one of our team members where we share how we live out our core values and mission and learn of their experiences and beliefs around them. We value a culture of diverse backgrounds and ideas but share a commitment to the same values and mission.  For our retention efforts, in our all-hands meetings we recognize and reward those who have most lived out each core value that quarter. We offer our team fun opportunities such as our "bored room" with a ping pong table, video games and snacks. In our culture of never settling, we encourage life-long learning and as part of this each employee gets an annual training stipend they can use to grow their careers and help meet their personal goals as well.

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Covideo (Indianapolis) - Jason Price, President and Co-founder

Why is culture important to your company?

Our culture sets the tone for how and why we exist as a company. It’s the foundation for how we hire, manage and communicate with team members and customers. Covideo is a place where everyone can be their authentic selves and our differences make us stronger.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

We encourage and seek to develop an entrepreneurial spirit in every position at the company. Employees are encouraged to challenge the status quo and actively seek out new ways of doing business. It isn’t uncommon to see Customer Success Representatives booking new business demos or Account Executives leading a training. We believe in sharing responsibilities and learning from our failures, as long as we’re always innovating.

We also believe in holding each other accountable and have paired all revenue professionals with an “accountability buddy” to help them stay motivated and on track toward their goals. We invest in outside consultants (professional development) to help us stay on top of our sales game and expand skill sets, helping our team at Covideo and beyond.  

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

We look beyond a skillset match and ask interviewers to consider if they would enjoy working with this person every day. Since we often share responsibilities and encourage collaboration, we wouldn’t hire someone who said “that’s not my job” during an interview.  Our core values define what we stand for and we base are recruiting efforts around alignment to those values.

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DemandJump (Indianapolis) - Christopher Day, CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

Culture is critical because it impacts the professional success of everyone in the company.  If team members are not aligned to the culture of the company they will not have a happy home life which will in turn negatively impact work-life balance for the individual and also the success delivered to our customers.  Culture is the nucleus of the circle of life....a person’s happiness in their journey. If our team members are not aligned to culture then they will miss out on the joys of life and positively impacting everyone in which they come into contact professionally and personally.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Culture is about being woven through the fabric of the organization. Everyone must live it from the CEO to the newest intern.  Interestingly we don't believe it has to be the newest most creative idea. At the core, we believe a family that eats together stays together. So from the inception of the company we eat lunch together every single Friday. We have not missed one yet! Of course, we play together and volunteer together....but breaking bread is at the core of human unity.

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

We lead with it. If a person does not fit the culture of the company, no skill set is great enough to overcome culture misalignment.  We list our core tenets and beliefs on every job description and we seek out candidates who share a similar mindset. This helps us attract A-players that believe in what we are doing and gel with the rest of the team.

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Greenlight Guru (Indianapolis) - David DeRam, CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

I’ve said for a long time, quality teams build quality products, and the end users of our software are developing medical devices that our friends, family and perhaps even we may use some day. With this in mind, our team members are inspired by knowing that the person at the desk next to them is as equally committed to developing a quality product as they are themselves.

This mixture of inspiration and dedication to quality defines our culture to a T and is vital to delivering a product worthy of use in developing the next generation of medical treatments.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Every month, the entire company comes together for a 1.5 hour enlightenment session. It's our designated time to take a mental break from the everyday minutiae to learn about new happenings from each department and introduce a nuanced approach to encouraging professional and personal growth. Whether it's an inspirational presentation by an industry, or an interactive mindfulness session, the goal is to encourage new ways of thinking, developing, and improving ourselves and our team.

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

Our culture has been huge for retention. We’re nearing our four year anniversary and to date, our employee turnover has been extremely low. In my experience, bean bag chairs, ping-pong tables and generous PTO policies aren’t near as valuable to an organization as an environment that enables employees to do their life’s work.

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Parker Technology (Indianapolis) - Brian Wolff, President and CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

Our company culture is the operating system of the business and the most critical ingredient for getting people out of bed in the morning and coming to work with the desire to make a difference that day. It’s what motivates them to do a good job and allows the organization to flourish, without having to “man-handle” or “rah, rah” everyone. Our culture provides our people with their guiding principles so that they know what’s expected of them and to know that they are doing what matters most to our company. Culture sets the standard for conduct so that managers can focus on clearing obstacles and managing issues – the people manage themselves because they know what’s expected, liberating managers from micro-management. 

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Two initiatives come to mind. The first is an initiative for our Customer Service Representatives in our call center, “It’s My Call.” The idea is that the CSR is empowered to handle difficult calls with angry parking patrons, by taking control of the situation, demonstrating compassion, and absorbing the negative energy from the guest, rather than reflecting it back to the customer. We want our CSRs to know we appreciate that it’s hard to constantly handle angry or unpleasant customers, therefore, we encourage them to document difficult calls that they handled well on a sticky note that goes up on a board for all to see.  At the end of the month draw one of them out to win a cash prize. The thought is that they’re rewarded for handling challenging situations well and with grace and compassion. The second initiative is a perfect demonstration of our core value of servant leadership, as exemplified by our call center manager. Every other Wednesday she makes a big homemade lunch for the whole office – authentic Cajun gumbo, made-to-order quesadillas, spaghetti and garlic bread, cookies, etc. Most importantly, she’s strategic about the timing of the meals, always planning them the week before a paycheck, knowing that for some employees, their resources may be stretched.

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

Our goal is to hire employees around our core values. Our ability to state the culture and then hire to it is a key focus. One of the ways we do this is by exposing candidates to multiple people in the organization, during the recruiting process, so they can see the consistency of the culture. Seeing the culture as lived out by three or four people helps potential new hires see that our core values are not simply sayings posted on the wall, but alive everyday in every person with whom they have contact during the recruiting process and whom they may work alongside every day.

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