Skip to main content

On August 18, a new edition of “Great Talk” was held via streaming about the topic: «Tech Startups: What are the challenges of organizational culture?». Newtopia was represented by Diego Noriega, who along with three other leaders of the entrepreneurial world discussed how culture is experienced within startups.

This meeting was organized by Great Place To Work (GPTW Argentina) and was moderated by Gonzalo Polanco, Commercial Manager of GPTW Argentina. In addition to Diego Noriega, Newtopia VC Managing Partner, Edwin Rager, Belo CMO & Co-Founder, and Marcos Sponton, Yerbo CEO & Founder were also there. The entire event was recorded on GPTW Argentina’s official Youtube channel so that anyone interested can relive the meeting.

The speakers exchanged opinions and points of view on various issues related to organizational culture within startups, sharing their personal experiences and arriving at some common aspects:

  • The culture within a company happens from the first moment and is built by the people who join and want to be part of it.
  • Learning and trust are fundamental and are part of the DNA of startups.
  • The attraction of new talent is related to the interest in the company’s purpose and mission.
  • Talent loyalty is achieved thanks to open leaders and measuring associates’ expectations to know what he/she expects and what he/she gets from the company.

In particular, Diego referred to the way in which Newtopia addresses the issue of organizational culture, the importance of leadership within startups, the main tools available to these companies, and the role of the associate.

– What is the role of organizational culture in technology-based startups?

Culture is a daily matter. That’s why today, when we talk about culture, we have to take into account who is going to live that culture and most of them are millennials or centennials, who have a different mindset than we had a few years ago, when we were in the work market.

At Newtopia, as an investment fund, we look at who are the leaders that are driving the company’s culture, what are their technical skills, but above all, their leadership and communication skills. Today, the methodologies for distributing leadership throughout the company have become very valuable, and this has to do with the fact that people want to be part of the purpose, which involves solving problems that exist in today’s world.

Both Newtopia and the companies we invest in, define the objectives and values that are also set by everyone in the team. This is something that invites us to put aside the ego and think of collaboration, cooperation, consistency over time, and containment. Leaders do not have to tell people what to do, but rather see what the teams need in order to unleash their full potential.

In turn, Edwin pointed out that «without an organizational culture that replicates certain work schemes agreed upon by the co-founders at the beginning, it would not have been possible to prosper. And Marcos defined culture as «an unconscious reflex action, mainly of the first people who join the company because they are the ones who define the culture and set by inertia how to carry on».

– How do startups today, given the current situation, attract talent?

Before, we were used to attracting talent from 20 kilometers around, but today we can hire people anywhere in the world. What matters is that the person relates to the problem that the company wants to solve.

Another fundamental issue is reputation. Today, we are content generators on social media, especially LinkedIn, and if we use them properly we can enhance the idea of employer brand, not looking to be one, but talking about the essence, so that when a person enters the company they have expectations that are consistent with the realities experienced in the company. This reputation among peers moves at a speed like never seen before and the employees themselves are the main vehicles.

Finally, historically there has been a lot of talk about motivating and retaining, but more than motivating, it is necessary to inspire and more than setting standards, it is necessary to provide tools and participation. In short, to make the associate feel part of the solution of a problem for humanity or for a specific niche.

From his position, Marcos agreed on the importance of commitment to the solution of a problem, stressing that «when you are solving a problem, that the people who want to join the company have experienced first hand, you really don’t have to do too much to solve it».

Edwin, in turn, highlighted the professional growth of employees in startups as a great differential, identifying it as an added value of working in this type of company.

– What do startups do today to keep associates choosing them? What tools do they use to keep them loyal?

I think that what prevails in the vast majority of centennials and millennials, is the level of knowledge, responsibility, and learning that they will acquire in this experience.

Learning by doing is a fundamental tool. Everyone is afraid of making mistakes and those companies that embrace mistakes as part of learning are companies that generate more value, teach more and get their people to collaborate faster. In addition, there is feedback, the culture of feedback, which although we are not generally very open here, is a tool for improvement in the learning culture.

I think what’s essential is mindset, attitude and company mystique. We talk about the mystique in Newtopia and we value that all Newtopians have a positive attitude, bring proposals, are resilient and have flexibility in the face of change.

Talking about more technical tools, Job Description is outdated, I prefer to talk about clear and concrete objectives to create pre-agreements with the person from the very beginning. Talking about expectations based on realities is one of the best tools we have and that we use very little in startups and companies.

Finally, Edwin emphasized that «giving people sufficient incentives and understanding what matters to them is most important». Then, Marcos stressed the importance of «building adult relationships within a company, being explicit and honest».

Diego managed to convey throughout the meeting something that we at Newtopia value very much, and that is the interest in the leaders who provide tools to empower their teams and get the best out of each of their associates, making them part of the company’s objective and of the solution to the problem.

On the other hand, he emphasized that, with the advance of social media such as LinkedIn, the reputation of companies is set to a great extent by the associates themselves who share their experiences, being this much more reliable than what the company itself can state about itself.

Finally, it is important to reemphasize learning as a key tool for any startup so that the growth curve of its employees can be faster within a company that embraces mistakes.