Inside the unique traditions of 4 Colorado startups

by Jess Ryan
April 21, 2017

One of the things that make a company’s culture unique is the traditions each team adopts. Whether inspired by other tech companies or just chance encounters, it’s always fun to learn about different teams’ traditions and where they came from. These Colorado startups have unique rituals that add to their team cultures.

 

 

At Turing, they follow the rule “never ship on Fridays.”

“We learned from LivingSocial and friends in the industry that you never ship on Friday,” said executive director Jeff Casimir. “If you do and something goes wrong, then you're quickly cutting into your weekend and potentially spoiling your energy for the following week — leading to more bugs, more lost weekends. Our students deliver projects on Thursday so that when things go wrong, we have time to clean them up.”

 

 

 

Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) has a tradition they call “Barbara Minto’s Pyramid Principle,” a versatile framework for structuring complex problem solving and written communication they use across all of Bluprint's teams.

“Back in the day, John Levisay and Josh Scott (two of Bluprint's founders) worked with Michael Dearing (its first investor) at eBay, where, legend has it, the Minto Pyramid Principle was used religiously,” said Grace Hanover, the company’s director of talent. “The rest is history! Not really, I know it was a lot of work to get the team to adopt this way of thinking.

“At Bluprint, whether you're kicking off a meeting, making a case for opening up a new position or committing complex thoughts to paper, ‘Mintos,’ as we affectionately call them, are ever-present. The expectation is that everyone at the company knows how to artfully introduce a problem by stating the situation, complication and question, and how to effectively structure their answer in proposing the solution. We've even had a group of team members dress up as a Minto for Halloween! That's how much we heart this nerdy tradition."

 

 

 

At VictorOps, the company has a tradition they call Hammerschlagen.

“Brad Norris, VP of sales, learned this game from a group of Norwegians he met skiing in the mountains,” said CEO and founder, Todd Vernon. “Since the beginning of 2016, at the end of each quarter, the VictorOps Sales team gathers the company in our awesome kitchen/communal area and recognizes members of other departments as well as high performers on the sales team. Those recognized get to participate, while the rest watch in envy, in our quarterly 'Schlagen, where each person is appointed one nail and one medal with their name engraved into the medal. Each medal has a nail-sized hole where participants place their nails and hammer them slightly into the 'Schlagen stump. One person starts and, with one hand, gets one swing at the nail, then passes it to the next. They get one swing and pass it to the next, on and on.  Whoever drives their nail flush with the stump first, wins.

“The tricky part is determining to go slow and steady or fast and risky. It's easy to hit your nail wrong and get it sideways or crooked. If this happens, you'll likely have to use your next turn just attempting to straighten it out again  When someone creates a spark between their nail and hammer, everyone cheers and yells, ‘Hammerschlagen!’ Eventually, among that quarter’s superstars, someone will drive their nail flush before everyone else, claiming superiority over the whole company for the next quarter.”

 

 

 

Notion’s tradition is a weekly 404 meeting, inspired by Techstars.

“When we were part of Techstars, we had a 909 meeting,” said CTO and co-founder, Ryan Margoles. “Each week, a different company in our class chose a theme and hosted the meeting at 9:09 p.m. We'd share wins, asks and updates, and it was a great, quick meeting for everyone to reconnect on what was happening in their worlds.

“When Notion hosted, we threw a luau in honor of our hardware engineer, Sean, who came out from Hawaii to participate in Techstars with us. We slow cooked a pork shoulder and had festive decorations.

“After finishing up the Techstars program, we morphed 909s into 404s to check in across the team every Monday afternoon. Now we have lunch catered, wrangle the full team around the ping pong table (including an inflatable parrot from our Techstars luau to represent Sean in Hawaii), and share our wins, asks and updates for the week.

“It's a great 30 minutes for us all to reflect on our accomplishments, share a meal and, especially as the Notion team grows, remind each other what we're all working toward together.”

 

 

Photos via featured companies.

What’s your favorite company tradition? Tweet us at @builtincolorado and use the hashtag, #techlovesCO.

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