Indianapolis-based tech networking platform Powderkeg will present the inaugural Indiana Breakout Tech Culture Awards on September 18. 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:

Archon Tech (Carmel) - Founder & CEO Tony Unfried, Agile project manager and UX designer Alicia Silhavy, and Director of Marketing Kate Parrish

Why is culture important to your company? 

Culture is the foundation of our company. We're unique because of our individual experiences and the unique perspectives we bring to the table. Archon Tech was founded based on the experience our CEO has in the security industry, and he's brought each of us onto the team because of the different perspectives, challenges, questions, and solutions we bring to the table. Our diversity in experience is how we answer the tough questions within our industry. We also emphasize work hard play hard ideals, and we've seen a direct improvement in our teams by focusing on encouragement, taking regular breaks, and valuing the individual's needs.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Our team runs on Agile, like a lot of other software development teams. However, we take unique sprints between chunks of largely client-dictated work. This lets each of our developers focus on their unique needs and questions -- allowing them to develop new personal skills and improve the software in ways the other parts of our team can't see. This empowers them to make their own decisions, motivating them not only during these fun self-assigned sprints, but also to create great code during regular sprints. It gives our team a way to be unique and take ownership of the products they create.

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

Our company specifically seeks people who are fearlessly themselves. Because we depend so heavily on the diversity of personal experience, we need people who aren't afraid to share their perspective. Encouraging people to be themselves - to wear what they love, to dye their hair crazy colors, to dance to music while they work - creates an open environment where we feel welcome and can put our passion into our projects. We don't fear Mondays, we welcome them with excitement because we know we matter in our office, we know the people around us contribute amazing, unique things, and we know our role in the company is valued.

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Blue Burro (Bloomington) - Chris Martoglio, President

Why is culture important to your company?

A company is a collection of individuals using knowledge and tools to create value for customers. Culture sets the tone for how the individuals work together. Early on, we established four elements of our culture. Service—we take exceptionally great care of our customers; learning—we strive to learn and innovate every day; integrity—we do what we say we will do; and respect—we care for our teammates. We believe these four cultural elements have allowed us to be successful across our multiple businesses.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Our weekly team updates and ad-hoc lunches together are two ways we stay connected and reinforce our sense of shared responsibility for advancing Blue Burro. Sometimes our weekly updates are over in 15 minutes, other times we're together for over an hour working on solutions to issues we have come across. Our ad-hoc lunches are optional, but when we go out to lunch together, the company buys. Sometimes we talk work, mostly we talk life.

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

As our culture is defined by the four elements of our company , we evaluate each individual to see how well they would embody these elements in their work. We look to see if they can describe what it means to take great care of customers. We assess whether they are lifetime learners, as our customers rely on us for innovative ideas and products and to meet this challenge, we must constantly be learning. We look for how they handle commitments and deadlines, and we assess whether they really would care for their teammates as part of our team.

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Galvin Technologies (Indianapolis) - Gary Galvin, President & CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

At Galvin, we believe success starts with people. As a company that’s been providing professional services to businesses over the last 15 years, we understand that how you treat your team is ultimately reflected on how you treat your clients. In order to deliver solutions to our clients on time and under budget, we made it a priority to build a culture that puts our people first. That means supporting their professional goals, empowering them to do their best work, and fostering an environment that encourages growth, collaboration, and teamwork.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Culture isn’t something you do one day and then it’s done. It’s a constant experiment in finding what works and doesn’t work, every single day. We are always searching for new ways to integrate our values into our work to improve overall culture. Since we’re huge on communication and collaboration, we plan quarterly team events where everyone has the opportunity to share what’s on their plate and on their mind. We encourage everyone to speak up, because we know it’s all in the best interest of helping each other and our clients. Likewise, we also schedule weekly work lunches to review upcoming projects, which helps us clearly understand what we need to get done and how we’ll get it done together.

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

When we were deciding on our company logo, we knew had to consider how it could potentially shape our mission, influence our culture, and drive prospective talent to our company. We also knew we wanted something that represented great strength, persistence, and leadership. Naturally, we landed on the dog.

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Selfless.ly (Indianapolis) - Joshua Driver, Co-founder & CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

Culture is one of the most important things to me personally. Once you have worked in a place with a poor culture or toxic work environment, you never want to again. I want our employees to enjoy coming into work, and I feel an obligation to always do our best to support and show appreciation to our team. As a startup, we have to create the framework for a great culture now and hardwire it into our company. 

What is your most creative culture initiative?

We are a small and new company, but we decided to build our business model around the B Corp/Benefit Corp guidelines. We made this pledge and investment to pledge Selfless.ly to operate at a higher standard and always try to do the best we can to support our stakeholders, employees, customers, investors, and environment. While B Corps are not a new idea, we are being intentional about telling our story to hopefully grow this important movement across companies of all sizes.

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

For recruitment, we have had no shortage of interest to join the company. It has not been hard to find great people with amazing skills. We are a little small to have a retention metric, but I will say the shared goal of creating an aspirational company has gotten us through a few bumps in the road that could have been a breaking point. I am so thankful to be working with Zach and Scott and the energy they bring to our company and could not do it without them.

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Share Your Genius (Fishers) - Rachel Downey, President

Why is culture important to your company? 

Culture drives innovation, collaboration, and creation. It's important that as we grow Share Your Genius we keep our values at the forefront. It's something we continually point back to when we hire and when we make decisions. If opportunities do not align with our values then we won't pursue it. At the heart of culture, for us, it really is our people. When we take care of each other we are able to serve our clients better. 

What is your most creative culture initiative?

One thing we did was to reward our team with the opportunity to go to Thailand. If we hit certain goals, we all got to go! It was such an amazing experience to travel with one another and partake in activities native to the culture of that country. As a team, we volunteered to work at an elephant sanctuary, which was truly a once in a lifetime experience. 

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

For us it really is how we choose the right people to join our team. One of our key values is this notion of 'Be Great.' We create shows for our clients and through those shows, we make meaningful connections, tell stories, and build communities. If our talent isn't intrinsically motivated to be great and create great content then they simply aren't a 'great' fit, see what I did there? ;)