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:

DriverReach (Indianapolis) - Jeremy Reymer, CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

Developing a company culture that our team can be proud of is something we strive for each and every day at DriverReach. Culture impacts how we feel on our way to work, the meaning we put behind the work, and how we communicate with one another. Culture is what makes it possible for us to successfully run at the speed of light without running ourselves into the ground. Every member of the team across the organization, regardless of their position, can expect to engage in caring, candid, and empowering conversations that lead to results every single day.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

We all spend nearly one-third of our lives at work, so it’s important to enjoy the people we’re around. Having fun while working is very important to us at DriverReach. Some of our creative energy goes into the funny "celebrations" or harmless pranks we play on one another. From the top-down, we have a great sense of humor, so we like to play it up. We have giant cardboard cutouts of Jeremy, our CEO, and Steve, our CGO, placed in different areas around the office. We dress them up and make videos with them – it's absolutely hilarious. 

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

Culture completely shapes how we meet candidates and treat them from the beginning. It's important to us that we treat them with respect and engage with everyone we meet. Having transparent conversations at the beginning of the hiring process gives both sides the ability to truly evaluate if we are a match. After hire, we engage new people and deep dive with them as quickly as possible so that they know we are true to our word. This builds trust, respect, and loyalty – all of which are fundamental to DriverReach's long-term success.

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FullStack PEO (Indianapolis) - Dawn Lively, COO

Why is culture important to your company? 

Culture is the lifeblood of any company, and is ultimately what makes an organization "tick". FullStack's core values are so important to that culture, because all of us are living and breathing the same priorities in all aspects of our lives, not just at the office.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

For me, the easiest is also the most creative - And it's never been easy for me before! Anywhere I collaborated with strategic initiatives prior to FullStack, we struggled to come up with core values that rang true to everyone - Here at FullStack, it is super simple what our leadership believes in,we hire to that fit, and we reinforce what's important on a daily basis. It's easy because it's who we are, it's aligned because it is living our core values, and it's creative because it is a litmus test to which we make decisions all the time. Does it match your core values, and therein, your culture? Yes - Do it, if No - Rethink it

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

There's the hard skills, then there's the soft skills. Our culture requires a match to both, including humility and transparency. Those are core values that FullStack lives by, and we stand by. Those are the people we want on our team with us, so we make sure that's a match.

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Passageways (Lafayette) - Paroon Chadha, Co-founder & CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

At Passageways, it’s our goal to enjoy the journey, together. We spend over a third of our lives at work – and if you don’t enjoy what you do, who you work with, and what you’re working toward, you’re going to be deeply unhappy. That’s why an inclusive, fun, transparent culture is so important to us at Passageways. When people find a safe and enjoyable environment to create, code, and work, you get enormous results and Big ideas. And that makes people feel like they’re flourishing, they lead happier lives, and that’s ultimately the biggest win-win a company can find themselves in.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Several years ago we adopted a program that was initially started at Salesforce called Pledge 1% – committing us to giving back 1% of our time, profit, and product to charitable causes. We’ve found this program has a profound impact while recruiting across Indiana. People want to give back, deep down people yearn not only be a part of their community, but to use their time and resources to make it a better place to live, work, and play. And despite adopting unlimited PTO some time ago, there’s something really important about having time set-aside where people are expected to go out, get their hands dirty, and give back. 

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

There’s really only two avenues to compete for talent – and while compensation is always going to important to recruitment and retention – an inclusive culture is the battlefield for the best talent in Indiana. You can only make amazing products and provide exceptional service with exceptional people.

We’ve nearly tripled our headcount in the past 18 months, and you better believe that means we think about culture every day. That means thinking deeply about both how we’re perceived and how employees feel every day when they head home. We’re iterating on existing programs, creating new ones, and measuring all of it. For example, while we’ve tripled in headcount, we have many employees who are nearing their 10th anniversary, so for the veterans among us we’ve created a program to send them on an expenses paid vacation for reaching that milestone. So culture is the cornerstone of our recruitment and retention efforts, because at the end of the day, our collective success is bound together.

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Peoplocity (Indianapolis) - George Klein, Founder & CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

Peoplocity provides a 2-way personalized communication platform to improve relationships, and our culture reflects the importance of communication, engagement, feedback and input.

Culture can make or break a company. As a startup, we are in the early stages of creating our culture. We’re laying the foundation for our future while working in a dynamic environment. We place a high value on customer experience and are building a culture that is focused on what is best for customers—both for our clients and our clients’ customers. We value input from team members and want their buy-in as we build toward Peoplocity’s vision. It is important to us that team members are aligned with the culture and values. 

What is your most creative culture initiative?

The beauty, and responsibility, of joining a small company is that each new team member has a large impact on the creation and direction of company culture.

We offer team members stock in the company as part of their compensation package. They get ownership in the business and can enjoy the benefits of their work in being a part of a startup. They own part of the business which makes their work more meaningful.

Team members who join our team have the opportunity to make significant contributions to the business. They can have a huge impact on the business! Team members have opportunities to learn all aspects of the business, find what interests them and guide their career in the direction they want. They can forge their career path!

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

We are an agile company working around shorter deadlines, learning skills on the go and creating processes from the ground up. We are recruiting talent who want to be a part of that environment and can be successful in that environment. Our team members can make a meaningful and significant contribution to Peoplocity.

We realize it can be a challenging environment. Our focus is on results and we allow flexibility in how results are achieved--from flexible work space to flexible work hours. We have an office overlooking Monument Circle and have coworking space in our building. We also have memberships in other coworking spaces.

Our office is right in the heart of downtown Indianapolis where of some of Indiana’s best technology companies are located. We encourage networking, sharing ideas and best practices with team members from these companies.

Of course, we like to have fun! There are plenty of opportunities downtown and there’s always something fun happening on Monument Circle.

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Perfit (Avon) - Casey Reagan, President

Why is culture important to your company? 

At Perfit, we plan to grow our team over time. We strive to have a culture that is productive, positive and fun. Teamwork and collaboration are a big part of how we get things done, so we want to have an environment where team members are charged up to deliver on their goals with a good dose of healthy discussion when solving problems.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Local is one of the key components of the Perfit product offering. While our culture allows for remote work, Perfit has regularly scheduled meet up days at different locations around the city, to give exposure to what is going on in different team members local communities.

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

Perfit looks for people who are ready and willing to work as part of a small, but growing collaborative team. Then we try to fulfill the promise with the environment.