Leading travel entrepreneurs agreed that nurturing company culture is “critical” in the early stages of developing a business,
Speaking at this week’s Travolution Start-Up Summit. Radha Vyas, chief executive of Flashpack said the way firms hire and fire is important in maintaining the founding culture.
“Our culture is very high growth, we’ve been growing 300%-400% each year and that can create quite a volatile environment so we hire people who are very resilient,” she said.
Vyas also addressed the expectations that staff have of their working environments in many start-up organisations.
“We’re a typical start-up, we’ve got a ping-pong table, we’ve got an office dog and we all have lunch together but that’s not culture.
“Culture is who you hire, who you release and who you promote and that’s the most important thing.”
Gerry Samuels, chief executive of Travel Capital and founder of Gradient Solutions and Mobile Travel Technologes, both of which he sold to GDSs, added:
“Figuring out how you should set yourself up with your team is pretty critical. Getting the recruitment right, getting the training right, getting all the processes right and being professional.“
Samuels said training was vital as one of the key factors in MTT was creating an environment in which people could learn. His fourth hire in the business was an HR manager and he also hired a COO who grew the engineering team five-fold.
“Having a spread of experience is one of the really critical things. Also having mature leaderships that’s been there and done it. One of the first things our COO did was roll up his sleeves and write a training manual.”
Samuels said he found it harder to grow from 15 to 30 staff than it was to grow from 30 to 200 because by the time the business was scaling it has better systems, reporting and training.
Having spent time in Silicon Valley, Samuels said he looked at what companies there were doing and then bought “everyone in our team together and we had an exercise where we spoke about the key cultural values we wanted in the company.”
Samuels added: “A key part of a company culture is to have the team see that there is a bigger vision for the company and that were really trying to do something useful and they want to perform. They want to go the extra mile without you having to tell them.”
Meanwhile, Brad Goodall, chief executive and co-founder of fintech start-up Banked.com, which is due to launch its new B2B payments product this year, said its culture is “focused around being very hungry right now for shipping the product.
“The one question we ask around interviewing is how curious they are, because the product doesn’t exist yet and so coming up with great ideas is really important,” he said.