It’s six o’clock and the office is dead; a few stragglers remain because startups never sleep. Over in the event space, however, it’s another story. Combine beer, snacks and a group of ambitious startup founders, co-founders, employees, etc. and you have the recipe for a successful MassChallenge event. Last night, the startup accelerator hosted the fourth installment of its Sampler Series, a program designed to give prospective startups an inside look at MassChallenge offerings while also delving into pertinent business topics.
The MassChallenge Sampler Series #4 was all about team building, and ViralGains CEO Jay Singh was invited to participate in the panel of entrepreneurs and CEOs who had gone through the trials and tribulations to master the art and science of building high-performance teams. Joining him was Sarah Haig, VP Operations & Co-founder, Silverside Detectors; Chris Howard, UK Managing Director, MassChallenge & Founder of Libbo; and Adam McGowan, CEO of Firefield & Boston’s Ambassador of Co-Founders Lab.
Moderated by MassChallenge Senior Director of Operations, Joanna Meiseles, the discussion began with an interactive audience Q&A and panel member introductions. Singh recounted ViralGains’ early days, when the company of five moved from the CIC (Cambridge Innovation Center) to MassChallenge’s headquarters on the beautiful Boston waterfront. The team now boasts 14 full time hires and six additional members, all dedicated to building on the ViralGains mission to create authentic relationships between consumers and advertisers through the power of online video.
ViralGains has a 0% turnover rate which Singh attributes to the company’s interviewing methods. An applicant’s résumé is secondary to the way Singh feels about said potential hire. Obviously, he admits that a degree and relevant experience helps, but he looks for someone that is going to be an emotional fit—someone who will thrive in the existing company culture.
“If you both see eye to eye and are focused on the same goal, you can often tell viscerally whether or not the person is going to be a good fit,” said Singh.
Panel member Chris Howard jumped in on the topic, and explained the analogy he uses when putting together a team—he compares it to cheese. When it comes to hiring, many founders often focus on creating the most expensive, dense piece of cheese. But, he reminded the audience, there is a cheese with holes that people still buy, Swiss. And it’s not about filling in the holes, but gathering really great ingredients to make the tastiest cheese, or team, you possibly can.
Singh believes the best way to foster a tasty team is by bringing on people who are aligned with the company’s vision. An audience member posed a question about the degree to which a new hire should be aligned with the vision—an applicant may be capable and excited, but lack passion and an invested interest in the company.
Singh asserted that passion and dedication to the company vision starts internally with the founding members. ViralGains has seen great success in team building because many of the newer hires saw this passion and dedication in the founders and as a result, adopted these qualities themselves. Several current full time employees worked up to eight months, full time as unpaid interns because they believed so strongly in the ViralGains mission—they were willing to sacrifice time and energy to support the founders and their ultimate vision for the company.
This is why ViralGains has such a strong, dedicated team. We are all passionate about what we do and how we do it. Founders Jay Singh, Dan Levin and Kate Willett have impassioned every one of us and have created a company culture in which we are all encouraged to thrive.
Want to learn more about our killer team? Check out the company culture section of our blog or meet the team page. As always, feel free to reach out if you wanna grab a beer, throw a Frisbee around, or just get to know us a bit better (we’re pretty cool, so I highly recommend it).