7 Boston Startup CEOs Boil Their Company Culture Down to One Word

9/1/09Follow @bbuderi

First, let me get this out up front—I’m ripping off the idea for this column from my colleague Greg Huang, editor of Xconomy Seattle. Thanks Greg!

Second, I spend a lot of time talking with venture capitalists about the startup business, and with entrepreneurs about venture capitalists AND the startup business. But those can be pretty detailed conversations. So the idea here is to short-circuit all that—and get the entire conversation down to one word, literally.

As Greg noted in his article, “A startup’s culture is what sets it apart from its peers. It is the essence of the operation. It directly affects the company’s strategy, hiring practices, and the personality of its products.”

I’d add that establishing and maintaining a corporate culture that employees buy into, and that even inspires them, is critical to success, and can often be a source of strength or guidance when a company goes through trying times.

So, following Greg’s example, I contacted a slew of Boston-area CEOs to ask them to sum up corporate culture. I got back seven answers in time for this column. There’s no deep analysis here, but I have added a bit of context to their remarks. I’d be curious to hear what you think.

Allurent (Cambridge, MA)
CEO: Joe Chung
Culture: “Synergistic.”
Comments: Actually, Chung’s first response was “synerfystic,” and I thought, being a creative guy, he had coined a new word with some deep meaning. But then he clarified, citing a Blackberry error, and said he meant “synergistic.” Allurent is doing retail e-commerce in a recession, a tough challenge. I’d say if you can find synergies in just about anything you do, that’s a plus.

Aveo Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, MA)
CEO: Tuan Ha-Ngoc
Culture: “Vibrant”
Comments: Aveo has an aggressive vision: take on the big boys of cancer drug development, thanks partly to a unique and, the company says, more accurate way to mimic cancer in mouse models. But as Ha-Ngoc says, “Vibrant is an appropriate word that describes our culture since it is both the result and the sum of all other elements of AVEO’s culture i.e. creative and dedicated people working together in a transparent, respectful way and with tremendous passion in making substantial impact in the lives of cancer patients around the world.”

Daily Grommet (Lexington, MA)
CEO: Jules Pieri
Culture: “Adventurous”
Comment: Okay, it turns out Pieri, whose e-commerce startup features … Next Page »

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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