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Thoughts on culture

After reading an article Hilario (our Director of Product) sent out I quickly replied with this email.

Rereading it now I thought it might be worth sharing with everyone. One of my biggest lessons learned from struggling through my first startup was how quickly seemingly small decisions set the tone for the culture as the company grows. These things are difficult to change retrospectively and it’s very exciting to have the chance to thoughtfully approach this all from inception as we work to make Dunwello a very special product and business.


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From: Matt Lauzon
Date: May 17, 2014 at 11:56:58 AM EDT
To: Hilario Coimbra
Cc: Matt Brand , Tyler Cone
Subject: Re: “Don’t fuck up the culture”


I love it.

And actually, I think it’s even MORE important to consider now rather than waiting.

The reason I believe that is that everything we do today will set this tone for how we behave as we grow.

For instance:

- how do we react when Tyler breaks something his first week? Are we a culture that celebrates taking smart risks and jokes about it? Or are we a culture where people feel afraid to take risks?

- how do we react when someone points out a bug or a typo in an email? Are we a culture that embraces proactive, honest feedback that makes our product better? Are we a culture that cares about every detail being right for the people who are using Dunwello? Or are we a culture that accepts feedback defensively at the cost of the business and the product?

- etc etc

On the more mundane side, seemingly small decisions today will set the tone for other aspects of our culture. For instance, when we hire our 100th employee decisions we’ve already made likely mean:

- they will all being using apple products; which says something about the kind of people we want and what we value
- they will likely be using gmail and Dropbox. Once again, both say certain things about us.
- they will likely draw a stick figure of themselves on a wall somewhere; and tell the story of how that tradition started in our old WeWork space.
- etc etc

Anyhow, I loved the article and I loved that you decided to share it. That act, too, is setting the tone for what our culture will become.

It’s an exciting time. We all have the ability to make decisions, create things, and take actions that will be amplified by every additional person that joins is in the coming years.

Onward and upward.



Smile. You’ve Dunwello.

On May 17, 2014, at 10:03 AM, Hilario Coimbra wrote:

Quick read on Airbnb culture (and not fucking it up as they grew): https://medium.com/working-life/597cde9ee9d4

Nothing we gotta worry about for now, but once we are growing due to our enormous success, will be important to always reflect back on ;)


Smile. You’ve Dunwello.

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Does the act of reading this make a big difference at work to me? What if you comment? What if you favorite? What if you like? What if you…

Does the act of reading this make a big difference at work to me? What if you comment? What if you favorite? What if you like? What if you…

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The recruiting process is almost perfectly designed for misalignment and mixed expectations. Combine that with traditional review processes and you’ve got yourself a disaster.

We may not (yet) be able to fix the recruiting process for other companies but I’m very excited to institute a unique process at dunwello that doesn’t settle for what’s being done today.

Hope you’re having a happy and productive day :)

The recruiting process is almost perfectly designed for misalignment and mixed expectations. Combine that with traditional review processes and you’ve got yourself a disaster.

We may not (yet) be able to fix the recruiting process for other companies but I’m very excited to institute a unique process at dunwello that doesn’t settle for what’s being done today.

Hope you’re having a happy and productive day :)

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Smile. You’ve Dunwello.

I’m excited to share that we’ve raised a seed round for Dunwello that will allow us to continue working toward our fundamental “why” – the belief that every person at every company should be both happy and productive.

I’m even more excited to share that we’ve been able to raise this round from exactly the kind of investors we were committed to including. More specifically, we were looking for people who individually and collectively:

  • Share our fundamental belief and support our commitment to it
  • Are passionate about company culture
  • Are seed focused investors
  • Can be sounding boards in specific areas of building the business
  • Can help expand our network
  • Are the kind of people we look forward to spending time with

 

The initial closing of the round was approximately $1.4M in total financing, well above the $1M original planned. Investors include NextView Ventures, G20 Ventures, BOLDstart Ventures, Vegas Tech Fund, Bridge Boys, Axel Bichara, Gautam Gupta, Jeremy Hitchcock and Mark Guadagnoli. We got such a positive response that we may include some additional investors not yet named.

In addition to investing:

  • Rob Go will join me as the second member of our board of directors. I actually wasn’t planning to have any board roles associated with this round but feel strongly that Rob is exactly the kind of person we need on our board to build a meaningful and valuable business. I’m also excited to have Bob Hower participating in board activities as an observer. Bob and I met for the first time during this process (thanks to Mike Troiano) and I’ve quickly come to respect and appreciate his passionate and thoughtful approach to working with entrepreneurs to build great businesses. If you’re not familiar with his new fund, G20, you should check them out. I love their community centric approach that draws from leaders behind businesses like Acme Packet, Netezza and Actifio.
  • Axel Bichara will begin serving as a formal advisor to the company. I’m excited about his participation for a variety of reasons. Not only does he have deep experience as an investor and director, but he joins us with great passion and knowledge of the space we are focused. That passion stems from his experience as an investor and director at Globoforce, a ~$200M run rate company that’s been built in our space.
  • Mark Guadagnoli will also serve as a formal advisor, which he began doing at the inception of Dunwello. I’m excited to have Mark involved and knew I’d try to get him involved in whatever I did next after working with him as an executive coach and general advisor to the executive team at Gemvara. What I didn’t know was that what I’d start next would be so relevant to the science/psychology that Mark has dedicated his life to. His 20+ years of research on behavioral psychology and his experience from Zappos building culture-oriented initiatives are playing a huge role inspiring the Dunwello user experience.

 In the case it’s of interest, I’ve included a few things below along with answers to a few questions I’ve gotten from people:

  • Here is a link to where you can request access to dunwello. FWIW, I read every request (there are now hundreds of companies with at least one person requesting access) and thank you in advance for sharing one thing that makes you happy. I love that. Go for it: http://www.dunwello.com/users/new

Here’s a little Q&A. Feel free to send along any other questions you have or ask in the comment section!

  • Why are you in “stealth mode” instead of putting the product in the hands of users?
    • The answer is two-fold but simple. The product is actually already in the hands of users but we’re being very controlled about rolling it out until we’ve nailed the product experience. Building great product takes time and it turns out that helping people be both happy and productive is nontrivial. We’re working tirelessly to provide a great experience when we fully launch the product.
  • Why haven’t I heard anything from you since requesting access to Dunwello?
    • Another two-fold, simple answer. First off, it was my job to manage communication here and I dropped the ball. Very sorry about that, hope this communication helps. Second, we absolutely will be getting everyone access eventually but there are hundreds of companies who have people requesting access so please be patient. We promise it’ll be worth the wait!
    • Are you hiring?
      • Great question.  Yes.  We are actively looking to grow the team starting with adding a new developer.  If you are interested in joining us on the adventure, you should certainly check out the job description.
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There are some interesting lessons to be learned from facebook’s lookback feature. over 200m people have used it and that’s awesome. it’s a powerful way of triggering memories that otherwise may be forgotten. in such a simple way, facebook is able to help you relive some of your life’s most meaningful moments with a little bit of music and 60 seconds of photos. that’s powerful.
what i find interesting (hint: dunwello’s future) is a couple things:
how many moments appear in your video that happened at work? i bet very few. is it because important moments didnt happen while you were working? or is there some other reason they weren’t highlighted and preserved? (hint: context is king)
what if you had a “lookback” video of your career? wouldn’t that be powerful? i think so.
That’s all for now.
Keep creating meaningful moments wherever you work…we can’t wait to help you highlight and preserve them all :)

There are some interesting lessons to be learned from facebook’s lookback feature. over 200m people have used it and that’s awesome. it’s a powerful way of triggering memories that otherwise may be forgotten. in such a simple way, facebook is able to help you relive some of your life’s most meaningful moments with a little bit of music and 60 seconds of photos. that’s powerful.

what i find interesting (hint: dunwello’s future) is a couple things:

  1. how many moments appear in your video that happened at work? i bet very few. is it because important moments didnt happen while you were working? or is there some other reason they weren’t highlighted and preserved? (hint: context is king)
  2. what if you had a “lookback” video of your career? wouldn’t that be powerful? i think so.

That’s all for now.

Keep creating meaningful moments wherever you work…we can’t wait to help you highlight and preserve them all :)

Tags: dunwello
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A note to self on managing expectations. true at home and at work.

A note to self on managing expectations. true at home and at work.

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A note to self on managing a startup

A note to self on managing a startup

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(NOTE: make sure your sound is turned on / thx for the heads up on this)

one thing i’ve learned about building a new company is that you never know what you’ll encounter on any given day at the office…this was definitely true yesterday when i showed up at the @dunwello office after a day of meetings. 

admittedly, the video isn’t too crazy but my heart was definitely racing in the moment!

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At the heart of what we’re building at dunwello is this core belief. This is why we do what we do. Every person who joins dunwello shares this belief. Our product will change over time but the fundamental belief that drives us will not. 

What does your company believe?

At the heart of what we’re building at dunwello is this core belief. This is why we do what we do. Every person who joins dunwello shares this belief. Our product will change over time but the fundamental belief that drives us will not.

What does your company believe?

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Serendipity Meetings

A thought:

Anyone who has started a company knows how difficult it can be to sort through everything and prioritize time. I find it’s especially difficult to balance great focus on priorities within the business with more spontaneous meetings with people outside the business that may be a little more high beta. Meeting that person for coffee that ten people have told you is great may not have a clear purpose, but my experience is that the serendipity of such meetings sometimes can lead to extraordinarily value outcomes…

So, as I start something new I am thinking about experimenting with a “serendipity meeting” quote. In other words, I am thinking about saying yes to exactly three of these meetings a week. It feels like it may make it easier to say “no” more often, in a way that I can articulate without being a total jerk, and I also feel like it will give a solid lens to evaluate which “you two would love meeting” requests/suggestion to say yes to.

WDYT?