Celebration is absolutely essential for startups. Whether it’s through acts or events, celebrations need to happen because they acknowledge and share the successes of a company and its employees. Without celebration, well, you’re left with a startup that’s neglecting its responsibility to all of the people that is helping to keep it alive.
With the year winding down, many companies are throwing end-of-year holiday parties. We reached out to startups to see how they decided to celebrate this past year’s successes, during this holiday season.
4moms is a startup that focuses on creating dramatically better baby products. What’s so unique about the company is that it incorporates technology in all of its products. For example, the rockaRoo is a baby swing that is automated to move much like a rocking horse and includes mp3 player connection. On top of an end-of-year holiday party, 4moms started a new tradition last year: a holiday decorating contest. For the contest, their team is divided into groups, given a small budged, and tasked with creating a festive holiday space.
“Our annual holiday decoration competition is just one of the many ways we, as a company, have infused fun and excitement into the 4moms culture. It’s pretty incredible to witness the creativity, collaboration and, of course, competition. You wouldn’t believe how many ways our mamaRoo infant seat can be used as a Christmas decoration.” – Rob Daley, Cofounder and CEO
Double Encore is a Denver-based premium mobile development studio that focuses on native iOS and Android development for large brands. The company has previously worked with clients like JetBlue and Major League Soccer. Since they recently moved into a new office space, instead of holding a party (as they’ve usually done), Double Encore surprised the team with a restored Marvel vs. Capcom arcade.
“I like these types of [celebratory acts] because they encourage people to spend time together while not working. They bring people together who might not normally interact on a day-to-day basis. Foosball, darts, and video games – all of which the Double Encore office has – are games that people play in pairs, teams, or groups. Spending time together, both while working and “off the clock,” are key to a company’s culture – especially one that depends largely on its collaborative efforts.” Jay Graves, CTO
Causes is an online campaigning platform, with a Supporter Network that connects people who share a common cause and empower them to take action together. Through the site, users can start a campaign, donate to the nonprofit organization of their choice, sign a petition, and make a pledge to take action. To celebrate the holidays, the company held a potluck-style holiday dinner at their new HQ, organized a volunteer day at the San Francisco Food Bank, made donations to the Gubbio Project, ran Secret Santa, and held an employee movie night.
“2013 was a big year for Causes and we have a lot to be thankful for – the acquisition of amazingly talented new employees, a move to a new headquarters, and the tremendous work that led us to launching our own purpose-driven network. This holiday season, I wanted to get everyone around the table, as a family, to properly say “thank you” and invited employees to join me in giving back the community.” – Matt Mahan, President and CEO
FlexJobs is a site that helps people find jobs that offer some kind of flexibility – telecommuting, part-time, freelance or flextime positions – from things like account management and recruiting positions to legal work and retail. For the holidays, the company set up a virtual gift exchange through Elfster.com where they all were anonymously assigned a Secret Santa with someone else in the company. The entire company works remotely (and live in different states), so it kind of becomes a fun game trying to figure out who sent what gifts based on the addresses.
“We decided to celebrate with a virtual gift exchange for a couple reasons, but really it boils down to having some fun together as a team! If we all worked in the same office, we’d be doing a traditional gift exchange, so we try to think of ways to translate these activities to a virtual workplace. Especially for startups, it’s a great way to build a little team spirit and energy, get excited about the holidays with each other, and show appreciation for one another.” – Sara Futton Fell, founder and CEO
London-based Hire Space is an online platform for listing and finding unique venues. Need a space to rent for a special event? Then use Hire Space. Restaurants, bars, galleries, and other unique venues list their venues for use to maximize any of their downtime. For the holidays, the company wanted to celebrate this past year’s success with the many venues that have made it all possible. Hire Space hired a double-decker bus and drove around London, stopping off for a drink at various venues across London.
“We wanted to celebrate the holidays with everyone who makes our customers’ Hire Space journey so special, from the 12 people in our office to the hundreds of staff working at the venues who use our website, everyone is part of the team.” Ed Poland, co-founder and COO.
Imo.im is a communications and social discovery platform that allows users to connect with their friends, as well as introducing them to new people through topics they care about. This year, the company celebrated the holidays with a luxury yacht cruise around the San Francisco Bay with employees and their families. In addition to this, imo.im sponsored a holiday giving tree, encouraging employees to bring gifts for families in need.
“While many of us are looking forward to our own celebrations this year, the holidays are also a time to think of others. Family Giving Tree is a wonderful organization that works to reduce the effects of poverty for Bay Area children by fulfilling each child’s holiday wish.” – Ralph Harik, founder and CEO.
Infomous is a NY-based startup that provides a service that enables online publications – like The Economist and USA Today - to display an interactive cloud of trending words for their readers. It’s an easier way to sort through relevant content online: simply click on a word on the cloud, and you can find a list of links related to that item. The company celebrated the year with a two-part evening. The Infomous team took a private cooking class together, followed by bowling in a private room within a bowling alley, where they imbibed and filled their stomachs with various desserts.
“We had an awesome time! Both activities were fun for all ages, and they required people to do things together. Several of the people who attended said it was the most fun ‘corporate’ party they had ever attended. And the overall cost was quite reasonable (important for a startup). I see several reasons why these activities are important for startups. Many people will talk about the benefits of bonding and team building, and I agree. But I also think that no matter how much you enjoy spending your whole day with the same people day in and day out, we all need variety, and these activities provide an opportunity to expand the range of activities we do together. Also, in the regular work context there are some aspects of your colleagues you don’t get to see. I suspect that seeing me hit a few gutter balls after having a couple of shots gave my younger colleagues a better idea of who I really am — and vice versa.” – Paolo Gaudiano, founder and president.
Suitey is a software-powered real estate brokerage that is hoping to change the way that people buy and rent apartments. While offering software to ease the home buying experience for the user, the company’s biggest sell is that prospective renters or owners only need to meet with their Suitey agent rather than having to deal with several different brokers. For the holidays, the company celebrated their company employees in a more personal way, giving each employee a personal note and the Jawbone UP.
“We decided that a wrapped gift with a personalized note would be great because everybody likes unwrapping a gift, and some of our employees had been talking recently about getting fitness trackers. At startups, things can be extremely busy so it is important to periodically do little things that let your employees know how much you value and care about them. With the gift we gave, the emotional value of unwrapping a great gift from your company with a personalized note far outweighs the expense of the item.” – Phil Lang, cofounder of Suitey.