In August, Denver-based TrackVia was named Outside Magazine’s #14 best place to work in 2013.
The award cited their unlimited vacation time, free lunch Fridays, and $500 scholarship for employers to pursue their passions.
TrackVia has around 40 employees and has been in business since 2006, helping non-technical people build databases and applications. We caught up with CEO Pete Khanna to learn more about the startup’s culture.
Tech Cocktail: What are TrackVia’s cultural values?
Pete Khanna: At TrackVia, we established a set of eight core operating values and associated core traits to help guide our culture. They include: 1) Results Matter; 2) Do Right by Customers & Colleagues; 3) Think Like a Customer; 4) Take Action; 5) Take Pride in Your Work; 6) Create a Fun & Rewarding Workplace; 7) Do What You Say; and 8) Be Positive – Find a Solution.
In short, we want to create a culture of ownership that empowers employees to do the right things for the business, their coworkers, and our customers. Everyone needs to feel like they can make a difference, challenge all areas of the business, and inspire others with their innovation, initiative, and results.
Tech Cocktail: What perks do you have for employees at the office?
Khanna: We offer all sorts of office perks, including simple things like free soft drinks, juices and other drinks, weekly free-lunch Fridays catered in the office, and company-subsidized gym memberships. Each month, we also bring in a mobile coffee barista, which everyone seems to really like.
These office perks do change. The TrackVia Action Committee – which is made up of employees from across the company – constantly dream up new ideas or contests to keep things fresh and fun in the office. For example, we recently had a dress-up day where employees dressed as their favorite WWF wrestler. Of course, that was a little difficult to explain to customers visiting our office that day, but they loved our creativity and enthusiasm.
Tech Cocktail: Do you offer any interesting benefits?
Khanna: Our most interesting or unique benefit is our “Personal Passion” scholarship. Every TrackVia employee is eligible to receive an annual $500 scholarship to pursue a personal passion outside the office, whether that’s skiing, mountain biking, painting, music, traveling or anything else. In our experience, people who are passionate about their life outside the office are passionate about their work, too. So we want to encourage passion in and out of the office.
For every employee who earns the $500 passion scholarship, we’re hanging a small-framed plaque describing the employee’s personal passion, why it’s their passion and how it makes them a better person and employee.
Tech Cocktail: What unconventional things might someone see while walking through the TrackVia office?
Khanna: Graffiti-covered walls. We hired a local graffiti artist to paint a large mural of the Denver cityscape on our lobby wall. We also had him paint many of the pillars in our office.
Tech Cocktail: Do you have any lunchtime or after-hours events for employees?
Khanna: We sponsor a weekly free-lunch Friday. It’s a company tradition we’ve kept as we’ve grown from 5 to 10 to nearly 40 employees. During this lunch we provide a business update and discuss any critical issues and wins that we are dealing with in the business. We also do a monthly happy hour, and hit at least one Rockies game a year as a group. We also set up company events around company milestones. Past events have included team paintball and a tour of Colorado breweries. Of course, there are many more impromptu activities organized by employees, almost one every week.
Tech Cocktail: Any other interesting aspects of your culture?
Khanna: Although most organizations claim they have a culture of open communications, the degree to which we communicate openly and honestly with employees is really unprecedented in my experience. We do this by reporting on the top metrics of the business to the entire company every Friday. These metrics range from revenue and new customer conversion rates to customer cancellations or support issues.
I believe our culture of open communication and sharing all aspects of the business unifies everyone around what we are building and fighting for. Every person and department has their own day-to-day tasks to accomplish, but they also have monthly or quarterly goals and objectives. All activities are tied back to how they impact the top three to five core business objectives to make the company successful.
By providing a direct link from personal activities to company goals, everyone understands how their individual contribution impacts the business. Additionally, this focus brings a sense of reality to the weekly grind, while reinforcing how we are all accountable for our results as a business and everyone has the power to positively affect our results.