INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis-based tech networking platform Powderkeg will present the inaugural Indiana Breakout Tech Culture Awards in September. In June, 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 who talk about what culture means to their companies.

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

AuthentiCx (Indianapolis) - Amy Brown, Founder & CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

Company culture is the foundation from which all else flows. Our culture is what binds our team together in times of challenge, creative vulnerability and risk—when we work within common set of values, we are able to build reliable and trusting relationships with each other and our clients. This not only fosters a happier team and a more rewarding work environment, but it’s good for business. One of the most rewarding compliments we received from a client recently was “You can tell that AuthentiCx has a really great team.”    

What is your most creative culture initiative?

We encourage every team member to be free to be who they truly are because we know that an environment that leverages the true strengths and passions of its people get better results. One of the ways we foster an environment where team members can be truly authentic, is we ask that each team member identify a “word” for the year that serves as their personal guidepost for their own goals. For example, team-member words this year have included “Surrender”, “Courage,” “Transformational” and “Uplift.” In our team meetings throughout the year, we take 5-10 minutes to share how our word is challenging us, serving us and impacting our lives.  This initiative has not cost a dime, and yet the impact has been huge. The investment of time and sincere interest in each other is one of the most effective ways we build a winning culture. 

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

When recruiting, alignment on culture and values is paramount to any other skill or experience that a potential hire may offer. Our 3 core values of authenticity, courage and inclusivity are not only incorporated in our recruiting and on-boarding materials, but they are woven into our everyday dialogue with each other. In addition to a culture that consistently reflects our values, our business model supports a virtual work environment and unlimited PTO policy. These culture benefits are only possible with cohesive and clear alignment on objectives, shared accountability, and interpersonal trust.  We have found these components of our culture to be meaningful to our talent retention strategy. 

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Counterpart (Fishers) - Jason Bourg, COO

Why is culture important to your company?

We recognize that salary and compensation isn't the driving factor of job satisfaction and career fulfillment for our team's dynamic as well as today's professional.  Career answers a huge 'Why?' for most everyone today and spending the majority of your time needs to be at a place that is enjoyable and satisfying at not only what a person is doing but who they're doing with and in what environment.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

One of the top things that our team enjoys is what we call our quarterly cultural event.  Every year we allocate $10K to quarterly staff events that are driven by staff ideas as well as staff selection (everyone votes for their preference) of what event (or item) is chosen for each quarter.  We've done everything from purchasing VR headset equipment for tournament play at the office to going curling together to purchasing a Platinum Topgolf membership for the company or even distributing extra funds to everyone as an extra bonus.

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

To elaborate on the first question, we don't actually talk compensation when we're talking to a possible recruit until the end, after we've explained our company's values and culture and evaluated the recruit's alignment and personality with the our team.

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Marketpath (Indianapolis) - Matt Zentz, Founder & CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

Culture is the necessary compliment to talent like water is to oatmeal. Without a positive, nurturing, and challenging culture employees are mostly just dry oatmeal. A system with no inherent culture might work for a while but it quickly becomes too dull, too coarse, and results take too long to complete. A strong culture is the lubrication that keeps people working together smoothly.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Periodically we'll have what we call "Deviation Week" when we work as a group or within small groups on improvement initiatives based on employee ideas that can impact the company long-term. But most of what we do we wouldn't characterize as "initiatives", which can seem contrived or gimmicky. In reality, we recognize that every employee struggles in some way to maintain a balance between their work and personal lives. We listen and set individual goals that support overall company goals, but as importantly, help employees achieve their own personal goals. We try to nurture everyone who is a part of Marketpath into something better, so by the time they leave, if they do leave, they are a better technician, manager, and leader.

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

In a world where many people seem to be always working toward their next job, we focus on positive employee development and achieving results in a relaxed environment. Every full-time employee is encouraged to take a full day (or two half days) each month to further their own skill sets. We don't set the topics but we do guide each employee towards achieving company and personal goals. Our culture is very relaxed but also results-oriented and heavily tilted in favor of achieving positive customer results.

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Olio (Carmel) - Ben Forrest, Founder & CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

Our technology, and the healthcare provider collaboration it enables impact patients’ lives. Our culture directly influences how quickly and fully we execute on our vision for better patient care. Culture is critical to our ability to recruit and retain the best talent, create an open team environment where ideas and approaches are shared, and create a climate where each individual can efficiently apply their unique skills and passions to the collective goal.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Social events, input into wellness, and office space are all table stakes. Our most impactful cultural initiative is our dedication to ensure the team has visibility into the real-world impact their work has on patients’ lives. We help physicians specialize care to patients’ unique needs, help patients avoid readmission to the hospital, and give healthcare providers an easier way to communicate so they spend more time providing patient care - making these stories known helps each team member see their daily efforts as more than a job, or even a career; but a calling.

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

Culture fit is central to our talent recruitment and retention efforts. Skills can be gained, but attitudes and values are much more difficult to shape, so we focus on individuals who share a passion for helping others, when making recruitment and retention decisions.

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Six Feet Up (Fishers) - Gabrielle Hendryx-Parker, CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

As a Python and Cloud consulting company with clients all over the world, we find ourselves fighting with tech giants from San Francisco to Boston to attract, grow and retain talent. Culture is what makes us different. It’s what piques people’s interest and why they decide to stay. Our focus on doing what’s right for the long term, collaborating and communicating is also what resonates with our clients as 80% of them become long term partners. Without culture, we’re just yet another IT vendor.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Software development is much more of an art than a science. And you just can’t rush a creative process. To facilitate creative thinking, we have focused on developing a “human friendly” work environment with initiatives such as truly flexible hours, remote working, diversity, continuous innovation, community-based decision making etc.  However, our most successful culture initiative is our quarterly “ShipIt Days.” During ShipIt Days, Sixies work on a project of their choice that they have to deliver within a 24 hour period of time. People can choose who to work with, where and how to work on their project. The company makes sure everyone has the tools and resources they need. It could be a new idea, a prototype of a product, or a better internal process. Each event is an endless source of amazement at what can be achieved in 24 hours when motivation and "flow" are the driving forces. The events conclude with a presentation of all the projects and a friendly competition to determine the most impactful and complete initiative. The winning team then gets to pick a charity of their choice that Six Feet Up writes a check to in their name.

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

As we’re in our 20th anniversary, our turnover has been quite low with many “Sixies” celebrating 10+ years with the company. Our focus is on developing a team that is diverse in background, age, shape, gender and religious belief but is united around our core values. Therefore we aim to hire team members who fit into the mindset and characteristics of the roles we are filling. This ensures we are all working in a role where our natural abilities and skill-sets are being used, which in itself is highly motivating and fulfilling.