San Diego Startup Week: Why Startup Culture Is Important

6/18/14

When bootstrapping a startup, money is always a factor. Growing a strong team with a limited budget is difficult, and even if you can get talent on board within your budget, keeping them can still be a challenge.

The entrepreneurial fervor that fuels the team’s excitement and drive to create a big success only lasts so long; other factors must keep it going. Culture and community are two overlooked assets that can continue to fuel that drive and excitement through the highs and lows of early stage startups.

The startup road is a rough and bumpy one, yet entrepreneurs find themselves trucking day in and day out toward an uncertain outcome. In the startup world, there isn’t a work-life balance; it is your life and so it must also be your passion and something you’re thoroughly devoted to. Our work goes home with us, comes to parties with us, and can haunt us in our sleep. You need to maintain the support of everyone around you to keep persisting. That includes your family, friends, and especially your team. Maintaining a healthy, fun, competitive culture is critical to keep support going. Entrepreneurs experience the best and worst with their teams, and your startup culture emerges during this constant hustle. So embrace it when is comes—culture can help you lead a team, gain respect, and differentiate you from the 9-to-5 corporate world.

San Diego Startup Week_Alternate_logoCompany culture is developed around a core interest in a common subject. Outside of shared business initiatives, culture can emerge from sharing leisure time, community, and environment. It can range from riding your bike to work to enjoying a happy hour with your team. Games also can serve as a common ground for a team’s culture. Chess, foosball, and video games are great outlets for that. Small triumphs encourage teamwork while keeping momentum up and avoiding a stale atmosphere. Examples range from foosball and beer drinking to rock climbing and video games. Particularly in the later stages of startups, having “work” not be the only thing at “work” provides another level of excitement and distraction from the heavy day to day. Like minds are in the startup world to be challenged; it’s important to cycle through new activities and to keep participation fresh.

An alternate channel for maintaining startup energy can be … Next Page »

Randy Apuzzo is a Web developer, entrepreneur, bootstrapper, and architect in the digital world. He is the founder of San Diego-based Zesty.io, a cloud content platform for building websites and distributing content. Follow @

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  • Austin Neudecker

    Great post Randy – couldn’t agree more!

    Building community is all about being accepting, collaborative, and helpful. I am not a fan, like you, of things that pit startups against each other (I’ve tried to get the founders of “fight night / brawl” to tone down the language, but I think they like the verbiage just to fill the seats, not to actually cause any resentment, so I am not overly worried). What I am more concerned about is people getting bitter about not being selected to demo or attend events (a few events have capacity constraints and it is important to maintain a certain level of quality to actually be an affective event). Sadly, the few can be loud enough about their discontentment to influence the opinions of others rather than acting in a positive direction (volunteering, hosting events) to move the ecosystem forward. Zesty is doing a great job here – and I thank you and your team for that! Cheers,

    • Darin Andersen

      Austin – I agree with you. We need to focus on creating a collaborative spirit amongst startups but also the organizations supporting this engine of growth. Startup organizations including incubators and civic based groups need to be inclusive yet focused on moving the startup scene forward in a positive and construction way not jockeying for position against one another. I am optimistic on the direction this is all taking.