Here’s how I would describe it using a loosely compiled essay.
It’s been 3 years since we set out to build an online video creation tool. The idea would’ve been marinating in our heads for maybe a year or so before that. And for me, this was the first time I decided to take the plunge into building a startup full-time or like my Dad puts it “climbing the cliff without rope support”. I’ve co-founded a video production studio before this but it was a part-time affair (or “climbing the cliff with proper support systems”). So yes, the last 3 years for me and our small team at Typito (never bigger than 5) has been a gruelling but beautiful learning process, to a great extent, discovering our individual selves and in the journey figuring out how to democratise video creation online (or vice versa? I don’t know).
3 years later, we’ve barely scratched the surface with our mission to simplify video creation. But we’ve made some progress — we built a product, we learnt how to launch it and make some noise about it, we learnt (are learning) how to listen to our users and improve on the product, we learnt how to execute with a plan, we learnt how to deal with existential crisis that sneaks in at times, we learnt how to communicate with each other very effectively, we learnt how to make progress, we learnt how to handle issues that break critical customer experiences, we learnt what empathy is and how to practice it with each other and our users, we learnt about biases that creep in during our decision making, we learnt how random the world around us can be, we learnt how to get paying customers for an online product, we learnt how to build a small but profitable business with a product that customers love and more importantly we learnt how to unlearn things if need be and remain open to opinions that contradict our perspectives.
Very interestingly now, we believe, is a phase at Typito where we have some clarity on where we are heading and how we’d like to take the journey forward. We also realise that it’s high time we get onboard some amazing people to join our journey at Typito. So yes, we are hiring! But to just list out the roles and opportunities we have at Typito with a few lines on how we want driven, enthusiastic, startup-minded folks to join us would be us throwing away our learnings out the window. Committing a few years of a person’s prime in a startup needs to be thought over well and there’s value in trying to work with people whose ideologies you respect and aspire to participate in. Hence this post is about explaining what defines our culture at Typito — things we hold very close to us at work.
One thing that’s common among members in Typito is that at some point in life each of us have faced the hard but enlightening realisation about how (very) little we know of ourselves and things around. It’s a humbling experience. Now you might be wondering why I’m going all meta here. But this is critical to understand what it is to work at Typito. Let me explain why :).
When you learn to acknowledge the shallowness of our understanding of self and things around us, that’s where true learning starts. So put in a different way, all of us at Typito yearn to learn more and that unites us in a very unique manner. Some of the ways this core philosophy reflects in our culture would be the following:
1. Everything we do at Typito (including the startup itself) is an experiment. It has a hypothesis to be validated, a process to be followed with discipline and a conclusion to arrive at. The process of experiment helps us keep ourselves detached from the work we do in a nice way and keeps us as far as possible from the biases that creep in.
2. We believe some ideas are fragile and you might not have enough data-points or empirical evidence out there to show enough confidence to pursue them. All you might have is a feeling at times. We engage in dialogues to help mould ideas to experiments that can be validated instead of shooting them down at first sight. Why do we do this: because we are here because one of us once had a fragile idea that led to the product Typito and it was possible only because the team was ready to experiment with it.
3. Each of us end up taking a lot of decisions on a daily basis — on product, growth, marketing, tech, hiring etc etc. And it’s hard to ensure that all of these decisions are backed with data unless someone’s an expert at force-fitting their feelings to a data-model (which we think is foolish to do). But we think someone can get better at decision making by developing a rich intuition — which is made possible by being on a never-ending process of learning. Learn from team members, books, movies, documentaries, interactions with loved ones, news, experts, mentors and what not.
4. Just like the adage goes “charity begins at home”, we believe “empathy starts within the team”. We spend a lot of time to understand everyone in the team — what their goals are, what makes them tick and when someone might be having a bad day. And we don’t think it’s possible to empathise with your customers if you can’t empathise with your team mate with whom you spend a lot more time.
5. We celebrate vulnerability. We understand how each one of us in the team is vulnerable in our own unique ways. This helps our team open up to each other better at work and not raise guards of insecurity (of being proven wrong or embarrassed) while working with each other. If you haven’t experienced this in life, it’s worth trying to celebrate vulnerability. It’s like taking a heavy weight off you and obviously you move faster after that.
6. We over-communicate almost always. We document our experiments with great detail and share work updates at times even in multiple places (Slack, Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, Trello etc). During a Typito meeting, you will also hear a lot of “Let me try to rephrase what I understood from listening to what you just said..” But we don’t see it as a bad thing because we understand how difficult it is to convey something to a person and also ensure that the other person understands it the way you wanted to convey. We believe aggressive (and at times redundant) communication is much better than having a team that’s out of sync.
7. All of us believe lying or trying to project something that’s not true is too much of an overhead and life is too small to waste time doing that. So we are very honest with each other. If one couldn’t make progress at work on a day because he/she simply couldn’t find enough flow and concentration, we understand that because we’ve all gone through those moments. But we appreciate when people admit that and seek help to advance instead of getting on a mission to convince self and others about work that never happened. We believe life can be kept simple :-).
8. Trust in each other and their abilities is key to working at Typito. We do our best to hire the right people and when we onboard them to the team, we start our relationship with a high trust reservoir. This gives everyone in the team enough leeway to falter in the journey because of reasons known or unknown to them. And we’ve learnt that trust almost always pays back multi-fold.
9. We keep transparency close to our core values at Typito. Everyone has access to all the data, updates on external stakeholder relations and nearly everything except compensation of other team members (we’ve not reached there). This is again unbelievably powerful since it helps with more ownership for everyone in the team. They know what they are working towards and they see the impact of their work clearly.
10. Having said everything above, we do plan for big hairy audacious goals at Typito and work towards them. So yes, it’s certainly a lot of work but we do our best to ensure that the team is aligned 100% on achieving those goals and the work helps in individual learning as well. And when all of the above happens, trust me — it’s magic :-).
These points would summarise the core philosophies that our team members hold close to their hearts and what keeps us aligned to solve exciting problems at Typito. That’s culture at Typito for you.