inDinero: Hard Work, Serious Fun
Having fun while working to build a product is relatively easy—just don’t build features that you find useless, and don’t build complex accounting features just because people want them. Frequently, there are simpler ways to solve the same problem. I’ll describe “vision” further in a future blog post, but I don’t think that’s immediately important for having fun working for a company like inDinero.
Which leaves “people” as the most important factor to consider. Among my entrepreneurial classmates at Berkeley and friends in the YCombinator program, I’ve found that a lot of them have trouble recruiting talent. Finding technical expertise is often considered the most difficult part, with less consideration being placed on culture fit. With inDinero, we quickly brought on two early members, Chris and Borden. The main reason for bringing on more coders so early in the life of the company was primarily because we didn’t know how long it’d be before we could find other incredible computer scientists who we would consider family. Consider this thought: you met the woman of your dreams, and she wants to get married soon. If you don’t propose now, she’s definitely going to leave you. Even if you’re not entirely ready to get married, it makes obvious sense that you should marry her. Andy and I made a similar decision for bringing on Chris and Borden – simply put, we wanted them to be family, and if we didn’t do it now, we probably never would.
Work Culture at inDinero
inDinero is actually like a family. We cook and clean for each other, treat each other like playful siblings, work as hard as you’d expect from a group of Asian immigrants, and it works out incredibly well. The interesting thing is that many software companies have cultures equally as unique. I’ve seen other early startups with cultures that resembles that of a fraternity, class project team, united nations delegation, or for the unfortunate business-people-only teams, a Fortune-500 company. All startups pride themselves on having a “hip” culture, but the interpersonal dynamics are vastly different from startup to startup. Some people say that your culture is solidified from the first people you hire, but from personal observation, it’s usually based on the relationship between the original cofounders. For example, my co-founder Andy is practically family to me, and therefore, our company has been shaped around the idea of being a very cohesive family.
inDinero Employees = Family
While I run the risk of one day contradicting myself, I think it’s important to give some tangible examples of what this means going forward: Anyone we involve in the company will feel like family. This includes employees, and even investors and board members. If I wouldn’t adopt them into my family (and if the rest of my family wouldn’t either), it’s a no go. This is consistent with our company’s purpose of existence, because we’ll continue to have massive amounts of fun as long as there’s nobody here to crash the party. Based on these thoughts, we’ve been able to narrow our hiring process down to a single question: do we trust them enough to adopt them into our family? Is it too early for a technically three-week-old startup to be thinking about these kinds of things? Perhaps, but it didn’t take us long to come to the conclusion that we were in this for the fun.
And it won’t take others to realize that they’re in it for the money, the excitement, escape, or challenge. As your company grows, continue to be mindful of the original reasons for why you decided to go into business. That way, you’ll somehow find certain success.