Powderkeg Tech Culture Awards Spotlight

Posted: Updated:

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. This week, we spotlight five more finalists about what culture means to their companies.

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

Cyclone Social (Fort Wayne) - Andrew Lamping, CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

People are the lifeblood of any organization. I see the people on our team as family. Every person brings a unique set of skills, knowledge, experience, and passion to the table. Culture is the heartbeat of the company and it’s so important to build a culture that spreads kindness and compassion. It’s about connection, people connecting with and caring about people – whether they are other employees, clients, vendors, or the people of our community. Bottom line, if a company has a great culture it can be the foundation to that company's success.   

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Trust. A lot of companies say that, but we truly act upon it. As a company we don’t have an employee handboOK – we have a core value statement and trust our employees to act in accordance to those values. “Compassion, Competence, and Consistency above self-interest.” Those are our core values. We offer unlimited PTO. Why? Because we trust that people will do their job with compassion, competence, and consistency above self-interest. If their teammate needs them, they jump to the occasion and support that person. That is compassion! If a client has a question about their business that is outside our scope of work, we still find a solution. That is competence. We don’t waver. Our culture is built on trust, so we let the team run at their pace and make Cyclone Social what they want it to be. As long as we follow the core values of Cyclone Social, we will be successful. Oh, and you can't forget our "Social Cocktail" events where we invite the community to come hang out in our office for a party with a DJ, local beers, and wine. Always a great team building event that connects our team with the community!

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

Culture is a huge draw to Cyclone Social. Our open floor office, unlimited paid time off, flexible work schedules, willingness to adapt around personal lives, office events, investment in the community, and overall trust that we put into our employees have all been huge draws for employees. When it comes to recruiting, we look for people who fit three areas: 1) they want to be the best 2) they’ve made a move to attempt to be the best (whether it was the right or wrong move doesn’t matter) 3) we feel comfortable going out for a beer or coffee with this person. If they fit those areas from an EQ side of things, they will fit into our culture. From a retention standpoint, our culture plays a huge part in that. We have loyal employees who love the mission and vision of our company. They are bought into the clients and their success. They also love each other. One of my favorite stories about culture is when one of our employees left us to move to a new city with his wife who had just landed her dream job. He came in on his final day and gave a speech with tears running down his face about how much more than coworkers this team was to him. A year later the whole office was invited to his wedding. I think that is absolutely a testament to our culture and the relationships we have created with our employees.


Bolstra (Indianapolis) - Haresh Gangwani, CEO and Co-founder

Why is culture important to your company?

Culture is the vibe that makes people stick around. While it starts at the top, it’s fed from the bottom. At a small place like Bolstra, you have to BE the culture. Our small and diverse team is all about creating an authentic Bolstra culture as we grow by allowing people to be themselves, knowing that we are all heard and respected, and having some fun while we’re at it.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

We aren’t up for a creativity award – just a rock solid “be yourself and work hard” culture. We do love those summer hours!

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

New hires meet everyone before they’re brought on board. We’re too small to risk a bad hire, so everyone has to feel the realness and the dedication of the person. We are very protective of our team, even though we are excited to grow and bring on new folks.


Skyepack (West Lafayette) - Brady Kalb, CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

We have a team with a very diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets, but our shared passion for education is what drives us forward. Our dedication to learning is, of course, important to our industry, but we focus that internally as well. We’re dedicated to learning how we can best serve our clients, learning to be as efficient as possible in our processes, and learning how to continually improve the execution of our mission. That learning and growth mindset is critical to success, both individually and as a team. Without it, you’re not making progress. 

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Culture isn’t any single “thing”, or a set of “initiatives”. Rather, culture is a shared mindset, approach, and mission that everyone is excited to be a part of. If you have the right people on the bus doing the right things, culture grows organically. Team parties, bringing pets to work, free coffee, etc. often get mislabeled as “culture”. They are great, sure, but they are just cool things – perks. Culture is the energy in the room, the desire to be the best we can be every day. It is the enthusiasm of winning a new client being felt by everyone – not just the salesperson that closed the deal. Perks don’t build that. The mission, vision, and the team’s passion build that. So, I would say that our most creative culture initiative is not trying to force-feed “culture”, instead letting it build and evolve naturally around our shared mission and goals.

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

Cultural fit is more important than any specific skill. Yes, certain functions require a specific knowledge base, but that is easy to screen for. We look for dedication to learning, a growth mindset, and the desire to contribute to our process of continuous improvement. It takes more time and energy to get to know someone on a personal level and understand what drives them, but it is much better to spend 6 weeks making a great hire than to spend 2 weeks making an ok hire.


Socio (Indianapolis) - Yarkin Sakucoglu, Co-founder and CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

We believe that brilliant people build brilliant companies, and the best way to get people comfortable with sharing their brilliance is to surround them with an engaging, family-like culture. We know culture is the lifeblood of our organization and ultimately determines our success. And so we prioritize people, because if our people care deeply about each other, they'll extend that same care to our customers and community. Furthermore, we see a people-first, family-like culture as necessary to building a truly inclusive team. We recognize that building a team diverse in people, ideas, and experiences allows us to not only be more successful in our individual roles, but also better able to address the needs of our customers across the globe.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Transparency is definitely one of our biggest culture initiatives. To ensure that transparency isn't just lip service, we look for creative ways to integrate it into the core of our day-to-day operations. We want the company's goals (and progress toward them) to be readily available to every employee. Two examples come to mind. First, our #payments-celebrate Slack channel notifies everyone anytime we receive a payment from one of our customers. That transparency helps everyone stay connected to the impact their work. Second, our monthly State of Socio all-hands gives our executives a chance to get real on the good and bad happening in their departments. That transparency sparks team discussions, ultimately giving everyone a bigger-picture perspective on where they can create impact.

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

We understand that culture happens with or without our help, and that the only way to build a lasting positive culture is to put it at the forefront of the hiring process. One way we do this is by having the CEO attend the final interview for every position, from SDRs to VPs, to gauge the candidate's ability to positively contribute to our culture. We know this will eventually hit a point where it's not practical, but right now as a startup, it's vital. We see a strong culture as something that naturally attracts candidates who share our values and mission. Engaged employees are proud employees, and their passion and energy spills over into their social circles, helping to make Socio a desirable place to work.


Torchlite (Indianapolis) - Susan Marshall, Founder and CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

People make or break a company. It's that simple. I started Torchlite because I wanted to create a culture of collaboration, curiosity and open communication. I believed that if we built a culture around these core values, we could attract smart, talented people and good things would happen to propel the business forward.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

We have a 3C Committee (Collaboration, Curiosity, Communication) It is our culture committee. The most creative ideas come out of that team. Most of the ideas include things that bring us together and share experiences outside of work.

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

I believe that when people genuinely like and trust one another, they want to stay and support one another, recommend their friends to work for us, etc.

  • Perspectives

    • Why Blogging Without Rules Produces the Best Content

      I spend a lot of time talking with people about what makes writing good. Depending on who you ask, good writing might be exciting and illustrative. It might be simple and efficient. If you ask someone who works in marketing, good writing translates to whatever helps a marketing strategy generate more leads, or more sales, or more of whatever a business is looking to gain. Though I fully respect and agree with this results-oriented perspective on content, in practice it can be...



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana)

      Valpo Mansion May Fall to Wrecking Ball

      A one-time mansion that once hosted dignitaries and politicians while they visited Valparaiso appears to be facing demolition, following years of decline and disrepair.  The stately mansion, known locally as the Brown home, maybe knocked down and replaced with condominiums, according to our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana. 

    • The Honda Greensburg plant opened in 2008.

      Honda to Invest $4M, Add Jobs at Greensburg Plant

      The American Honda Motor Co. continues to invest in its Greensburg, Indiana plant as it has announced the factory will be producing the company’s first electrified sport utility vehicle in the U.S. The company says it will invest more than $4 million and add 34 new jobs in the plant to support production of the CR-V Hybrid.  

    • Photo courtesy of Purdue University

      Purdue Offers 'Stranger Things' Replica Tee

      Purdue University has partnered with trademark licensing agent CLC to produce a special-edition replica Purdue shirt that appeared on an episode of Netflix’s “Stranger Things 3.”  The university also teamed up with Venley to accurately replicate the shirt, which will be available at retailers on the West Lafayette campus and online later this month.

    • Timothy Rushenberg

      Electric Co-Op Names VP

      The Indiana Electric Cooperatives has named Timothy Rushenberg vice president of government relations. He most recently served as vice president of the Indiana Energy Association. Rushenberg has also served with the Indiana Manufacturers Association and the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.  

    • Alexa Deaton and Colby Shank

      Higher Ed Commission Promotes Two

      The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has promoted Alexa Deaton to associate commissioner and Chief Financial Officer. She previously served as director of accounting. Also, Colby Shank has been promoted to associate commissioner for student financial aid, a new position for the organization. He most recently served as assistant commissioner for financial and student support services.