Forming Our Team While Working From Anywhere
By Shawn Jenkins | Jan. 5, 2022
When we began discussing the idea for a new company, we spent several months sharing ideas on how to create a special type of culture. We probably spent as much time talking about what we didn’t want to do as we did the things we wanted to ensure were foundational to our unnamed company.
One key design element from the very beginning was a work-from-anywhere lifestyle. None of us wanted to be tied down to a specific city or to a rigid office environment. Flexibility was the first core value we all totally agreed upon.
As we began the search for our first associate, a senior software engineer, we had the luxury of talking with people across the country, regardless of their location. And when we began our search for two additional engineers, we then again were able to cast the widest of nets.
When we started, two of our founders were in Charleston, SC, and one in Greenville, SC. We then added our first associate in San Diego. And then another in Albuquerque and another in Tampa. Meanwhile, one of our founders moved to Steamboat Springs, CO, and we added our first customer and product leader who happened to be in Charleston. In time, several key folks joined who contribute on a flex time schedule while they also do other projects.
It has been rather amazing to build a new company in this manner. It hasn’t at all felt like a challenge or even a hindrance. Remarkably, we’ve been able to come together as a team despite never even being in the same room.
However, we finally found our opportunity to gather for some good food, outdoor activities, lots of great conversation, and of course some work.
Colorado Mountain Summit with the Team
In October, about 15 months after starting the company, we held our first all-associate get-together. The purpose was to all meet in person for the first time. We planned some nice meals together, none of which were in restaurants. We kept the work schedule light and focused on having some fun, sharing stories, and strengthening our bonds.
We gathered on a ranch just outside of Steamboat Springs. We rode horses, hiked mountain trails, did some fly fishing, and generally just hung out like a group of old friends.
We did fit in a couple of sessions with a whiteboard, some blank paper flip charts, and lots of fresh creative notebooks to capture what inspiration would come our way. We spent most of this time sharing ideas about what our first product might grow to become in the future. We also spent time on what our next product or two might be. Call it product strategy or brainstorming or whatever, but it was fun and we came away with many great ideas, some good lists, and those always memorable hand drawings that tend to emerge from such a setting.
Together is more than a slogan for us. It’s our name; it’s who we are, and it was so special to all be together in one place for the first time. We are onto something with this talented crew. Where the journey takes us only time will tell.
Founders Club and Launching Our First Product
As our first product, SwellChat, neared initial completion, we had an idea to open it up early to a group we created called our Founders Club. We thought it would be helpful to get a broader set of folks to test SwellChat and add input for future enhancements.
We began onboarding around the end of this summer and were fully subscribed by Thanksgiving. Each Founders Club member received two years free use of SwellChat in return for their feedback and product suggestions. This has been a wonderful pre-launch idea, and we are sure to use it again for future products.
As we take some time with our families and friends over the holidays, we are also finishing up our final items for the launch of our first tier of SwellChat, the Professional Edition. We hope to launch in January, which we plan to keep rather simple and then build upon as the new year progresses.
Up next is our second tier, the Business Edition, which should be complete around late spring or early summer 2022. We are less concerned at this point with hitting specific dates, but rather with working at a pace we feel is sustainable and building a solid and quality product. We do have some exciting plans for SwellChat and some unique and industry-changing features on our roadmap.
We will also be expanding our team in 2022, so if you’re interested in what we are creating, please do keep in touch!
And Someday Perhaps a Landing Spot
We imagine that as our young company grows, we will indeed desire to have our own physical space to come together. We don’t hate offices. We actually love being together and working together. We just want to keep flexibility at the core of who we are as a team.
So, we will remain open to some sort of home or, maybe better said, a collaboration space.
Thanks for following along with us on our journey. We wish you a terrific New Year and many blessings and much success in all that you do!
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