Startups consider countless opportunities before getting a strong foothold in their market. They look for what products their audience wants, and why they don’t have it already. A lot of time can be spent researching, building and figuring the best course for product development. In the end the people making all these new ideas possible deserve a little recognition as well. This is where company culture comes into play.
On this episode of Powderkeg: Igniting Startups we have Jason Price, Co-Founder and President of Covideo right here in Indianapolis. Price started his ventures during college at Purdue University with one question: “How can I start making product for the people”? His first company was a food delivery service that catered to Purdue students. After that he started a number of companies, and learned when it was a good time to pause one project and begin another.
In this episode Jason Price shares how to build a community at work. Along with getting the inside scoop on how a friendly work environment can cure a good case of the Mondays, you’ll learn how this can help a company flourish. Price has found that because his co-workers bond together outside of work, they care more about what they accomplish during business hours.
Want to connect with Covideo? Check out their profile here: https://dev.powderkeg.com/covideo
In this episode with Jason Price, you’ll learn:
- How to read the market.
- Scaling the company through good and bad times.
- How to find your core values.
- What to look for when deciding if someone fits into the culture.
- The importance of a strong company culture looks like.
- Why it is important to fit into a community versus showing up just to work.
- How to keep company culture engaged as it expands.
Please enjoy this conversation with Jason Price!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.
Quotes from Jason Price:
“We didn’t understand what it truly meant to stick with a business. We needed to understand that you are going to have challenges, and just because the challenges are existing or business is getting tough it’s not the business isn’t good, it’s that we need to make some pivots.” –@jasonwayneprice on @PowderkegHQ
“When things went wrong, which eventually they had to. Ed showed us it’s not time to close this down and go do something new. We have to dig in and figure out why this stuff isn’t working.” –@jasonwayneprice on @PowderkegHQctt]
[ctt template="1" link="c3b1n" via="no" ]“As we started scaling the market, we recognized that clearly we needed to sell more and take advantage. So we looked heavily in the last couple years into focusing on building out our sales marketing team. General philosophy is ‘we hire extremely slow’.” –@jasonwayneprice on @PowderkegHQ
“I don’t really look at these people as a commodity in terms of, they’re in a seat and their job is to drive the company or create more revenue or whatever. I feel like the company exists to give them the opportunity to do what they want to do. To build the career they want to have.”–@jasonwayneprice on @PowderkegHQ
“How do we exist? What makes us who we are? And I think once we started asking those questions to ourselves, then we were able to find our core values” –@jasonwayneprice on @PowderkegHQ
“We care. The people here matter more than anything. Some of my best friends come to this office everyday. I just think based on how we hire and how we treat people. Sometimes that can be a lot stronger than skill set.” –@jasonwayneprice on @PowderkegHQ
“There is no one way to do core values, as long as they are authentic to how you operate.” –@jasonwayneprice on @PowderkegHQ
Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Companies and Organizations:
Software and Apps:
We’re All Bosses
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What I realized is that like the core values essentially are like who you are. It’s how you hire. It’s the people that you want to stay in with you everyday here in the office
What’s up everybody, it’s your host, Matt Hunckler. And this is episode 81 of powderkeg. Igniting startups. This is the show for tech entrepreneurs, investors and professionals, growing companies around the world in areas outside of Silicon Valley. I’m super excited because today I’ve got my good friend, Jason price, the co founder and CEO of CO video joining me on the show, we’re going to talk all about company culture and all about how he’s grown a remarkable tech company based right here in Indianapolis, Indiana, he has grown his team to dozens of people millions of dollars without raising any outside funding from angel investors or venture capitalists. And they now serve over 250 people around the country with an amazing video marketing software that uses the power of both video and email to create personalized digital communication. I love this company. I love their culture. And we actually filmed this in CO video headquarters. So here’s the show. Well, dude, I’m excited to do this conversation, because I’ve put together bits and pieces of your founder story. Sure, just the conversations here and there. But I haven’t really kind of gotten it from the beginning. And so I was wondering, I’d like to start with just asking you a little bit about how you first got into this crazy thing called entrepreneurship. Okay, how did you? How did you get the inspiration to take the leap? And start your own company?
Yeah, so So goes back probably to college. So Cooper, who’s my partner here, my best friend from high school as well. I don’t know if there was one single moment where, you know, just sort of hidden. So this is something we were gonna do. But I would say from the beginning, our goal was always to create a company, like from day one, when we went to Purdue was, you know, how can we but and so we both we both studied computer science. And for me, I went into Purdue without really ever having touched a computer. I know that sounds crazy. But, you know, maybe I did some papers in high school, but there wasn’t a whole lot of computer classes back in the day. Right. And so, you know, I went in very green, you know, based on probably my skill set and personality, like the patience to write code wasn’t always the easiest thing for me. But it was always kind of an ends to Amin, which is clearly tech is the space. Yeah, our goal was to learn as much as we could about building products, and then go create one. So even throughout college, Cooper and I were constantly trying to launch companies, and most cases failing.
What Why do you remember what was driving you to do that?
I think the, we love creating. So I think just the general inspiration of creating something and having control of what you’re creating. But I think it comes back to something like we just didn’t really want to work for anybody else. Yeah. Like, we believe that we could create a company and an environment that was meaningful for us. And so that was that was the goal. So our first company was a website design company. Okay, right. And so now it’s, I mean, how you can go build one for free and make it look pretty good. But at the time, you know, most companies, especially in Indiana, that a lot of them didn’t have websites. So it was a massive opportunity there for us of doing the same thing in Bloomington. Okay,
what year was that?
So you feel so we’re more like 20 21? Okay, and the challenge we ran into is you’re riding on your coattails? Yeah, you’re just behind us that the challenge we were running into is that when we would cold call into companies, many of them said they didn’t need a website, right, there was just this impression of like, it’s the internet. And it’s not that important. I mean, hell, most of where we grew up in offices, obviously producing my stuff, yet, I grew up in a little town called Monticello. And most were probably on dial up still. And so there just wasn’t even if they had internet in their business. And so we sort of like there was like a gap there where it’s like, Well, hell, no one wants a website. So this, this business kind of sucks. And it’s hard to make money doing it. Then we got an online food ordering. So we set up a portal where essentially every restaurant on Purdue campus, and most in Lafayette, Indiana, were connected to our online food ordering. And so at the time, you know, we were solving, you know, what now is trivial problems, but you know, like getting secure credit card information, processing it correctly. Doing all the tax, getting the escrow account paying back the restaurant. I mean, just that, in itself was like a massive in the early 20s. Yeah, crazy. Yeah. And then oh, PayPal, and PayPal existed, but just not in the way that it does right now. Right? fully accessible, right? Not on mobile, right. Yeah. And so that wasn’t the problem. The problem is that none of the restaurants actually had really like computers or infrastructure. So we had to digitally fax from our system, the order, which would then sit for like an hour, and then the students would call us where the hell’s our food, and we were transacting quite a bit of business there for a while. Wow. wasn’t even the business. So it was called boiler life. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So I grew up
in West Lafayette. Yeah, I never had enough money when I was a kid to order anything online. There you go. But I remember seeing some sort of advertisements. Yeah, so
boy alive. I mean, the primary Foundation was like, kind of a community for previous students. But the the main product was, yeah, being able to order food and get those get that whole thing processed. And so the restaurants became very frustrated, right, because they had students that weren’t happy, or just people trying to order the food. And I think what I realized with couponing early on is that I don’t know if it was just like a failure to launch from a maturity perspective. But like, clearly the customer was also the restaurant. But we didn’t pick up on that. Right, right, tell us the customer was the person buying the food. And so there was sort of this, like confrontational relationship between us in the restaurants. And then that’s another business that just sort of didn’t exist, it just sort of wound itself down. And then we both graduated in late 23. And we rolled right into CO video. So we’d met a serial entrepreneur. And we were just at that time, the boiler life is this was sort of winding down. And how
did you guys feel after the whole boiler life experiences I imagine you put a lot of time and energy
wisely not bad at all, realize, like, let’s go to the next thing. So here’s the issue at the time. And I’ve said it before, like we didn’t understand what it truly meant to stick with the business right to understand that you’re going to have challenges and that just because the challenges are existing, our business is getting tough. It’s not the businesses that got it just we got to make some pivots or adjustments. For us. I got that’s a bad business school do a better one. So it was just honestly, I don’t even think it stuck with us. We were just on to the next thing. That’s great. Yeah.
What do you think you got that sort of mentality? Did you have some sort of mentors that were coaching you through it? Was it pure, dumb luck and sort of confidence? Yeah,
maybe maybe DME confidence? For sure. I don’t know. I think for both of us, we just, I’ve just naturally never dwelled on things. I mean, it just it didn’t work. Let’s move on to the next one. I think that’s a lot of how we operate here. To some degree, too. It’s like I would much rather do something. Yeah. And if it doesn’t work, make an adjustment, go fix it, then spend a week planning it and then get into it realize assumptions are wrong and and be frustrated. You have all this time into it. So for us, it’s just we’re always sort of focused on running to the next thing.
learn your lesson. Keep moving. Yeah, you got it. Do you do anything to sort of like document your lessons?
I should. I’m sure they’re out there somewhere. Yeah, yeah. It’s
sticks in the brand and just kind of synthesize it and have to keep moving. Yeah. Cool. So how did you come up with the idea for a video you mentioned, you came across the serial entrepreneur? Yeah. Was that in West Lafayette? It was
and so he had come in and looked at our online food ordering business. And that thing was just not going well, right. And once again, it wasn’t going well, because it was a bad idea is because we weren’t doing the right things. And he just had some general thoughts around video, and where the state of video could be in the marketplace. And at that time, YouTube at launch. And so it was like the like a wild frontier. I mean, you could do anything you wanted. And so when we first started, there was a ton of vision around what like the actual product would be I mean, it would clearly be an email tool. We were looking at live video conferencing. Or like instant video chat from like a business Skype perspective before Skype really rolled into business. And so the ideas were clearly there’s a play here and enterprise. Yeah. And we just started building. And I think, Edie who was our partner and CO video was really important for us, because he was in his early 60s, he had founded and exited 15 companies and just had sort of probably more than anything of like when things went wrong, which clearly they would just what happens. Yeah. I think what he was able to teach us like, it’s not time to close this down and go do something new. It’s like you got we have to dig in and figure out why this stuff
isn’t working. He kind of helped us sort of staying power. Got it? Yeah, that was lesson
we learned from him, which was the most important lesson we learned. However, interestingly enough, I feel like some of our earlier companies probably had markets quicker. We stayed with COVID Do I think without a market, like a true defined market for probably, I mean, I think you got to say at least eight or nine years, and I feel like the market didn’t really start arriving for us until 2014.
Wow, that’s a long time. Long time. You have to have a lot of commitment. Yeah, to stick with a business that long.
Well, that was the lesson. So we learned it the hard way.
That’s great. Well, and the fact that you didn’t raise venture capital or angel, right, traditional Angel rounds. A lot. A lot of you that freedom sure to stick with the market until it obviously it’s hit like right now videos, everything. It’s everything has
worked for the last five years. Yeah. You know, and I think the other thing for us is it and once again, I don’t know if it was luck, or just we were at the right place the right time. Who knows, but we closed the deal. In early 25, there was about 3 grand of annual recurring revenue. And so that sort of kind of put us on the map in the sense of not people knowing about us, but in our own minds of like we have a business that’s been validated. We can now build a path and a process around business development to go do this time and time again. Yeah, but I swear, I think we found the only early adopter in the United States at that time. And we didn’t probably pick up another big account for 789 years. And so we sort of just flatlined. You know, within that first year, we got to about a half million, and we flatlined there for about six or seven years. Wow, you know, that’s incredible. That’s really true. It’s like clearly generating revenue, or, you know, just back to iterating. And trying, they’re always these windows are like, something’s about ready to hit or like the market is arriving. And it just took longer than we thought. But I’m glad you stopped. That’s
a lot of patience. So So describe to me, in your own words. So that elevator pitch of what is the sweet spot of trivia that finally clicked?
Sure. So we’re a software company clearly. And our primary platform right now is a video email tool. And so the way I describe it is, if you’re a business, and you’re not using video, you should be. And if you are, you need a platform like covideo. So whether you want to send out, you know, personalized videos, from a sales rep to a prospect, you want to incorporate videos in your marketing campaigns, videos on your website, there’s so many areas where video can make a massive impact. CO video essentially is the platform, and it has the analytics and the tools to make all that.
That’s awesome. And in terms of your reach right now, in terms of clients, number of employees, give me some idea of the scale.
Sure. So right now we’re at 25 clients, and our initial sort of test market or beachhead was in the automotive space. And frankly, they just they were really good at at being willing to adopt this technology early. So from, you know, oh, five to 2011, most of our business was car dealers. And so we sort of transition out of car dealers into other industries like mortgage and real estate and other b2c type spaces. But what we’re seeing now is, you know, as we transition from that area is really mid market enterprises where we’re starting to see some traction, fortune 5 companies that would incorporate video into the recruiting or into their sales process. And so I think this is the time where things are going to take off. So 25 current customers about 20,0 unique users, because we have some clients with multiple accounts set up on the system and route 36 employees.
That’s great, then, when did you start really kind of building that team? Because I imagine in those days, where you just had one big client, and we’re still figuring it out for years, sure, you weren’t, you probably weren’t actively growing the team at that time.
Now, we tried. So we probably sat, give or take a few heads at five or six people until about 2013, we did make an effort to sort of scale the team, and 2010, a little prematurely. And so we had to make some adjustments and sort of move some people out of a company and go through a round of layoffs, which is the worst thing I’ve ever done. And so
you mind sharing a little bit of what you learned through that process?
Yeah, I mean, I think I learned and it’s one of our core values. I mean, we deeply care. I mean, that I mean, I think a lot of people struggle with with letting people go, I mean, I don’t think anyone should probably take that lightly. But I think the challenge for me was just like these, these people had made a commitment to work for us, we made a commitment to them. And we just we’d let them down. I mean, I felt like it was 1%. And it was my fault, because we couldn’t scale enough. And so I think what I’ve learned then is while I’m not very risk adverse, I’m I am definitely way more cautious around hiring people now to make sure that we have the cash flow or the projections to support them. And so, you know, I still think we’re aggressive. And you know, we’re moving as quickly as we can, but definitely, I would never do that again. Yeah. And I could avoid it.
So I appreciate you sharing that lesson. Yeah, I’m sure a lot of other founders Could, could appreciate that.
Yeah. And so once we, you know, once we sort of wound down part of that team, we were probably at six people until 2015. We’re still at a pretty Research Park in West Lafayette, Indiana, we relocated down here to Indianapolis. And so we’ve scaled from six to 36. And in four years, so I think moving to knee was the biggest move we could have done.
Yeah, absolutely. Talk to me about that. How did you make that decision?
We knew it was time. Yeah. So throughout all of 2014, we were really looking hard at how do we get out of here. And so we had sort of made a decision, we were either going to go to Indianapolis or to Chicago, and we’re going to relook relocate the team even though it was a small team, it was when you’re that small, it was foundational, we really couldn’t lose anybody. And talking through the team. Everyone had agreed they’d be willing to relocate down to Indy, and very few people felt compelled to move to Chicago. So that was nice. Yeah, decision made decision, man.
Six to 36 is a really important time in a company’s lifecycle. You know, you’re you got this like really tight knit core of six. Sure. And hopefully at 30 seconds still feels tight knit right? Doesn’t always happen. Sometimes companies do that in six months, right? If they get an injection of capital, and they grow like crazy, you’ve done consistent growth of the team. It seems like in a very responsible way, over the last several years. Tell me about sort of your approach to hiring and building a team. Do you have sort of like a general philosophy?
Well, I think a couple things come to mind for me is You know, as we started scalping the market started arriving, we recognize that, clearly, we needed to sell more and take advantage. So we’ve we’ve looked heavily in the last couple of years focused on building out our sales and marketing team and really focusing on what makes the most sense for us, I would say general philosophy is, we hire extremely slow. Yeah, and I would say that we could easily hire four or five more people like literally today and find spots for him. But to maintain this sort of like family cult, like culture, you know, we’ve made a couple of mistakes in the past, not just we hired too soon, and had to let a few people go, but also hiring some people that weren’t really a cultural fit. You know, and I’m sure everyone’s ran into that. But when you have, like, when I say we have a family, like culture, it is legitimately the way we interact. And almost everyone in here is best friends with someone else in the office, they spend countless amount of hours away from work together. Like for example, all the ladies in our office, I think it’s this weekend, or next weekend, are all getting together that COVID is a good sponsor, they’re going to dry bar at 4pm. And there’s some prom night where all the ladies are dressing up and going together. And so for me, it’s like you spent all week grinding together. And you’re choosing to take your weekend to spend that together. And so I think for me, in terms of how we approach is to make sure people are aligned with that mindset, you know, and so probably another way to look at is, I don’t really look at these people as like a commodity in terms of they’re in a seat. And their job is to drive the company or create more revenue or whatever, I feel like the company exists to give them the opportunity to do the things they need to do to build the career they need to build to have the life they want to have. And so I take for me, I put the responsibility on myself to give it back the other way. Yeah. And I think by doing that, it creates people that are more passionate, they love being here, which of course creates better work. And so it all sort of works together.
Who are some of the people or what are some of the books that have sort of inspired and shaped that approach?
So I do read a lot. I don’t know if anything specifically inspired it. Yeah, I mean, I think it goes back to our course. So for me, I I’m crazy extrovert in the sense of like, I work with him through people. Yeah, that is like the core of who I am, I get energy through people, if I’m in an office by myself working on spreadsheets or whatever, I can do it right, I can get into detail. But it’s not something where I excel. And so for me, it’s like the connection with the group here. And then for them to fill that back. It’s just it’s sort of naturally how we built the company. I would say my partner Jason Cooper’s the exact same way. I mean, we’re very people focused, he’s probably a bit more on the introversion side to some degree, but he still is very aligned with sort of this team unity. So I don’t think there was like one particular blog post or book I read that said, this is what you should do. I just felt like, that’s what organically sort of came.
Yeah. In terms of family. What does that word mean to you? So a lot of different families out there.
A lot of different families? Well, I a number of things. It’s not one thing, first of all, we take care of each other. At the end of the day, we work together, we win together. I mean, it’s about a team environment, and not in the sense of like, you always have to be working in a team. If you work better by yourself, that’s fine. But at the end of the day, like all the success or the failure was shared together as a group, it’s not any one person that owns that, like any time in a family, I’m sure there’s you know, there’s bickering there’s, there’s, there’s challenges, but we get through all of that, because we actually care deeply about the other person on the other end. And so I think for me, it just comes down to just caring, you know, and making sure you’re doing the right things for each other. Well, and
you mentioned your, your core values and your mission, and I hear co video. Why do you what do you feel like those are important?
I mean, they’re the heartbeat of the company and interest. So for me in the beginning, I actually core values, and I’m not really maybe in 25 26, they were a big deal I didn’t really ever hear many people talking about, yeah, core values, maybe a little bit of culture, I felt like it’s been much more of like the buzzword of the last seven or eight years, or maybe I just wasn’t connected to the right media. But I felt especially early on, like core values just seemed like an unnecessary, you know, waste of time creating the superficial set of words that, you know, everyone rallies around, so I didn’t necessarily buy into it, especially early on. And then I’ll change. So we have core values, we had a set that we created, and we sort of started working through them and and what I realized is that, like the core values essentially are like, who you are, it’s how you hire, it’s, it’s the people that you want to stay in with you everyday here in the office, you know, if you got to make a decision based on whether it’s incentivizing somebody or giving a reward or promotion, or if you have to hold someone accountable. I mean, everything falls back to the core values. So one of the things that came up recently is quite a few people here sharing that maybe the core values didn’t necessarily resonate with them personally, like they’re good words. And clearly, if you do those things, they were meaningful, but it wasn’t necessarily who we are. And so we actually went through an exercise just in the last month where I have a select few people that have come in, sort of give me their feedback, and we’ve completely We built our core values from scratch. And I would say now that I see surely as I look through them, like these are who we are. And it’s, it’s, once again, the words don’t need to be there, because we already existed in that fashion. But now I see how powerful it is, as you look through a situation where maybe there is a confrontation around a performance, or maybe there’s, you know, a hiring decision to make, and there’s three or four great candidates when you align it back to those values that makes all those so much easier. So I became a believer over time.
But it took a while took a while. Yeah. Sounds like it sounds like you kind of came to it, initially, almost from a point of skepticism, which certainly no judgment there. Because I mean, you see the the buzz around it. And if that hasn’t been your background, and if that hasn’t been like how you got into business? And you know, there’s no core values on a balance sheet. Sure. You got what got you to say like, Hey, I’m gonna give this a try.
Well, we’ve been giving it a try for a while. So we have a set of core, but I mean, they’ve been out there for years. But yeah,
so take me back to what however, you know, 567 years ago, when you first put core values in place, do you remember what it was that that? flip that switch to zero core values? I don’t know about this, but I’m
gonna give it a so I think for me, I’d read Good to Great a long time ago. Yeah. And then I had read it again. And then through one of my partners, we actually picked up the book called Traction. Yep. And I’m not sure if you’ve read that, but
a couple ones. Is it the Eos? It is the EOS model? Yeah. Or Yeah. Yeah, I
think Gino Wickman. And Wakeman. Sorry. Yeah, you got it. And so, you know, reading through that book, and really sort of being reminded about how important those things are. We sort of went through the exercises then. And we established them, you know, so our partners, we’re looking at everything together. And those were established, they’re part of the performance reviews, and probably, why they why they’re important. And we talked about them, and we coach on them. And they were part of it, of how we operate. It just I think those words weren’t the right words for us. And I think that was the other thing too is we we hadn’t really sat down and said, Okay, when you look at this base, when we look at the company we build, and what matters to us? How do we exist? Who are we like, what makes us who we are? And I think once we started asking those questions, we picked up core values that that resonate. So I’m very happy with these and start sharing with the team. Yeah, well, several weeks, what are a couple of your favorites? So the first one, I’ll read right here, it’s called we’re all bosses. Right? Yeah. And it’s totally the truth. So we look for people that are extremely self motivated, that that can be self managed, that want to take ownership of whatever role they’re in that. And I think there’s a couple things that go with that people that want to take ownership with their work is is also is very empowering. Yeah, yeah. Because now they have the freedom to make decisions. And then they know they have the support of US leadership, and the trust is there. So it’s a symbiotic relationship. But the other thing is, we don’t need to spend time like there’s no micromanagement here, right? Like anybody that needs to be told multiple times to hit your call numbers, or, you know, the deadline for submitting this code review was at this point in time, or a marketing campaign was was like, if anybody needs constant reminder, like they just wouldn’t ever fit here. Yeah. Right. It’s, it’s we want people that can come in and do those things on their own, like they understand the job. Now, they, at times, maybe they need lead, maybe they need inspired. There’s other things we work through there. But sure, in terms of the day to day, like, they are bosses, they know their jobs. And so that’s probably the most critical thing. And then the second for me, we have sixes, we care. And that goes back to Kubernetes. Foundations, like the people hear matter more than anything. I mean, my best friends in the world come in this office every day. I just think based on how we hire and how we treat each other that, to me is, is far more important than skill set. Sometimes, we’ve made decisions like that. So if we have, you know, multiple candidates for a job, and you have someone that on paper, and through the interview process, maybe had more experience, maybe the skill set was a bit stronger. But they were missing some of these pieces. And we didn’t know what they were at the time, we just sort of made the gut decision. Right. But I think a lot of it comes back to these values, I think it’s going to be easier for everyone else moving forward. Now that we’ve established the right ones,
what makes a good core value in your mind?
I think one is authentic to the business. Yeah, one that’s authentic to who you are. And, and so for us, you know, because the people come first, I mean, truly the people come first, even before the customer, our customers are critically important. Yeah, it’s how we obviously get the revenue, we get to be able to pay our payroll and pay our bills and all that. But at the end of the day, it’s it begins with the people every single day that walk into this office, you know, if you’ve got a founder that maybe is very focused on bottom line, or driving profit or hitting numbers, and regardless of, you know, work life balance or how someone exists in the company, that those words will be very different than our words probably. Yeah, you know, and so I think it’s, there is no one way to do a core value just as long as they’re authentic to how you guys operate
when you talk to me about how you created your core values because One One thing that I heard you say is that you heard your team say, hey, maybe these these aren’t 1% authentically, us where we are right now. So first of all, the fact that you listen to that, and we’re open to feedback and open to new ideas, says a lot about your own leadership style. But once you heard that feedback, and made the decision, it’s time to revisit, what was the actual process you went through?
So the first thing I did was I spent a couple of weeks really just writing stuff down. Okay. Right, a lot of just in terms of my thoughts about the company where I feel like we should go and there wasn’t any specific strategy around what I was writing was just in general, I was trying to sort of scrap down. What are the elements that matter the most to me here. Yeah. And then and this was just for you, just for me. Yeah. And so I came up with a handful of things that I felt like were the most meaningful for me in terms of what I want to see that people get out of this place every day, I shared those those same thoughts with Cooper. He also made some adjustments to it. And then I sent out an email to six or seven people here, and just gave them no feedback on what the exercise was. I just said, if you can pick two words, and describe those words, and explain why those are the best fit for who we are a cool video, I would love that feedback, but no, no obligation if you know, if you’re uncomfortable, if you don’t have any idea, no big deal. And so everyone sent me their thoughts back, I incorporated those thoughts back in. And then I set up a meeting two weeks ago with six people I’m not I wasn’t in the meeting, Cooper wasn’t in the meeting. And I just gave them a lot of what had been created and said, I’d love for you guys to take an hour, I want you to brainstorm, I want you to beat it up, I want you to be honest about everything that we do here and give me your feedback. And so I sort of took that feedback, made a few more adjustments, and we landed here. And it’s funny, because a lot of what I had already written in the beginning was very similar to what all the email feedback I was that was sent back to me early on. Sure. And so I mean, that’s the thing about values. I mean, it’s, you know, we’ve hired based on these things, clearly, it’s just not something we’ve talked about. So now I think for everyone, I think there’s going to be a lot more passionate energy around this.
That’s really cool. How do you make sure your team embodies those core values?
Well, you know, so a couple things. So the core values we had in place. Before these new ones, were always a part of our performance review. So we do weekly one on ones we do. quarterly reviews were part of the review, we actually outline the core values, we taught our people acting within those bounds, whether it’s plus plus minus or minus, and that comes from attraction. But yep. And, and I think to me, that exercise just sort of wrote, we sort of went through it, and we did it. And we can, once again, they were great that like everyone should have those values, but they weren’t necessarily who we were, I would say how we get people in bodies, just how we act everyday how we come into the office, how we treat each other. I think it starts with me, and it starts with Cooper, but it starts with everyone else actually was in our annual meeting this year. One of the things I told everyone, we’re not big yet, but we are getting bigger, and we will get very big. Yeah. And at this point that I think the core values are really embodied in the team, like I’m relying on them to live it every day and to be accountable to who we are as a company and to be authentic through that. And I think it goes back to the top, which is we’re all bosses I mean, and I believe they’re gonna carried on very well.
That’s awesome, man. That’s really awesome. Is there anywhere you publish those core values internally externally?
So we do we have a card right now with the ones we had in place before these new ones are going to be circulated here the next couple of weeks. And actually, there’s a wall if I don’t notice when you go down the stairs. Yeah, there’s a big kind of wall that overhangs the stairwell. Yeah. And so I’m gonna have someone coming in and paint those every day. Yeah, that’s awesome.
I love that idea. No doubt. So I imagine going through this again, how did you kind of communicate to the team that like, Hey, we’re revisiting the core values.
So at this point, I’ve kept it really kind of tucked into a group about six or seven people. Okay,
right. So so we’re so we’re kept we’re going to be getting really awesome time. Yeah, truly
beginning to say like, these are truly aren’t final yet. Yeah, that’s what I see. I need a couple more weeks. So what I’m going to do next is I’m going to circulate these to the teams, I’m gonna have the managers sort of work through a conversation around these core values with each team member, and sort of start getting some additional feedback. I think we’ll probably have a few more adjustments before they go live. But I want to make sure everyone gets a chance to sort of at least give some feedback about something we may have missed or not thought about.
I love I love interviewing it mid process gives an insider’s look inside of you know how the sausage is made.
No doubt that a lot of collaboration truly. Yeah. And so while I haven’t here in front of them, looking down at them, while a lot of what I had initially is embodied here, I would say the words and then even the descriptions, really a lot of that came from the team members. Yeah, so this this truly has been built as a team exercise so far, which is great.
That’s awesome, man. What do you What are your hopes for the new core values? And what are your hopes for how the team will receive them? And then what are your hopes for the impact it’ll make on the business as you continue to scale.
So one of the things I love about this place every day is the passion and energy from the team. I mean, I, you know, one of the things that Kubernetes talked about whether it was ourselves, or the people that work here is like, we didn’t want a place or a building or a company to walk into where, you know, on Monday morning, or any given morning, you’re driving in and, and dreading your job. And what you have to do that day, or what the work is, clearly not every day is a great day. So I’m not trying to be idealistic, you’re gonna have days are harder than others. But in general, you know, we want to create a place where people are excited to come into it every single day, and they feel like they’re supported. And, you know, they have a chance to make more money than they’ve ever made and build a career and learn more than they’ve ever learned before. And so we’ve always focused on that more than anything, I would say what I’m expecting from these core values at this point is just to align with how we’ve already operated. So the definitions are clear, you know, and I think, once again, we’ve made a lot of decisions based on these already, because the sort of the nature of how we operate already was kind of there. I just think the clarity is going to be really exciting for everyone else.
Hey, powderkeg. Fans, I wanted to take a quick break from this conversation with Jason to share something we’ve been working on a powder keg that’s related to this episode. And that’s powderkeg culture profiles. As of today, covideo has their very own culture profile on the powderkeg firstname.lastname@example.org. Slash co video, there, you’ll be able to see, hear and feel the unique company culture at co video, as well as get the behind the scenes look at their culture, perks and benefits, open roles, and of course, authentic engaging videos. So I hope you’ll check it out. And maybe even click the Get an intro button while you’re there to get introduced to the right person on their team, and take things to the next step. So go check it out at powderkeg.com/co video, that’s COVID Do all one word powderkeg.com/c. O video. And if you’re interested in learning more about how to get a culture profile for your own team, go to powderkeg.com/register is totally free and a great way to increase the exposure for your culture, your company and your brand. Again, that’s power kake.com/register. Okay, back to the show. I’m excited for you. What’s what’s the future look like? For COVID?
Yeah. So that’s what we’re most excited about. So we’re in a sort of weird spot. So what I’ve what I’ve talked to people about it, I feel like we’re very good startup founders, you know, when your sort of backs against the wall, and you’re trying to get a product out the door and generate some revenue quickly. And, you know, that’s an area where, especially for me, I excel, because the challenges are immense, you’re obviously, you can probably relate to that in the beginning days a pattern. And the challenges become different over time. No doubt, it’s not that they’re any easier. They’re just different. But just the constant fires and the frequent pivots, which is really probably in line with how I like to operate, we just keep running through things. You know, now we’re in a position where the market is, is big for what we built. I mean, we have competitors now that have funding upwards of $60 million, we have, at this point, maybe a half dozen with with over $15 million checks. And so we’re in a space now where it’s highly competitive. I mean, even if you go back four or five years, man, we weren’t really competing with anybody meaningfully. Yeah, and so clearly still dealing with early adopters, but like the mainstream market was kind of starting to pick up on video. And there weren’t a whole lot of players in the space for so for us, the conversation was a lot different than it was much more around, you know, convincing, you know, a sales manager around why video is a critical part of the communication process, or why a marketing director shouldn’t, you know, incorporate more videos in their campaigns. And so as much were on the value of video now, it’s, it’s less than I think people get it, it’s more now around? Why would we choose you guys, you know, and so, I would say in the next couple of years, our focus is going to be on product heavily on product, because we’ve been significantly ahead of our competition for so many years. And now we have to get to is we have an established market that’s massive. It’s not a small early adopter space. And sort of the things you can get away with as a startup, or as you’re starting to grind in the early days, you can’t really get away with now. Yeah, and I would say I’m more excited than anything, because it’s just beautiful that we’ve stepped through this long. Yeah. And there’s now this incredibly big market. And our goal is to go after it, you know, I think we’re positioned extremely well, we’ve got a lot of the problems that we solve even seven or eight years ago, our competitors or from a product perspective, are still trying to solve them now. So we’re gonna we’re gonna try to take advantage of that. But I hope you see us doubling and tripling in size, not just employees but in business over the next couple of years. And I’m sure
we will. I’m sure we will. That’s exciting man. Well as you continue to grow in scale Obviously, keeping people engaged with the teams is really
important. No doubt.
What has worked really well, to date with CO video? And what are some of the things you thinking about as you scale to keep that team engaged in that sort of family? workstyle?
Oh, man, there’s so many. Well, first of all, the beautiful part about everyone that walks in the door right now is already aligned with that. So they operate and think and behave in that way. Anyway, we are very collaborative, we work as a team, like I said, we spent a lot of time both in and outside of the office together. So that sort of the foundations there, I would say in terms of keeping people engaged, there’s two sides to it, there’s essentially their job, right? How they’re held accountable. And we believe, like very heavily in the one on ones. Yeah, right, weekly one on ones where, you know, and sometimes even when you run through these, they can become a bit like you’re just sort of running through things and kind of covering the same things every week. But and that’s okay. Right. As long as you’re being able to recognize employee and let them know they’re doing a job, that’s, that’s a truly Well, or whatever. The key is, if you start dropping those off, when something is coming, like there is an issue or distraction or challenge, if you’re not constantly engaged with that employee, you’re gonna miss it. Yep. Right. And that’s where I think, you know, sort of performance could drop, or maybe their engagement here could drop. And so I think from a work perspective, it’s definitely the one on ones. That’s the most important thing we do. And then each team has a weekly meeting, that we use the meeting agenda from the traction book, which works extremely well. And then I would say the second thing is we put a lot of emphasis and energy on spending time together, outside of the office, team events. You know, because I think there’s a couple of things, having friendships at work is important. But by building that camaraderie outside of the space, where you truly get to know each other, it makes, I think, the empathy when Shabak, your everyday making decisions so much easier. Yeah. And so I would say that’s a huge part of how we do things.
How do you do that without it feeling forced? Is I’ve certainly worked at places in the past, where there have been team outings or been opportunities. But it was clear that not everyone wanted to participate. Right? How do you how do you create that sort of engagement? without it feeling contrived?
Well, I think it goes back to the people. I mean, the only look at it. First of all, you don’t have to come to anything. It’s always optional. Totally. Yeah. And that’s the first thing I would say. Secondly, is I don’t really I don’t plan anything anymore. Yeah. I mean, how Half the time I get the invite, you know, the night of and there’s something happening. I mean, I think what’s happened is it’s so organic here. And because it’s not Cooper, or I, you know, creating these events, whether it’s a happy hour or an outing at a sporting event, or maybe, I think we did. What’s the breakout room where you go in, you have to break yourself out of it. Oh, yeah. Escape escape room? Yeah, yeah. When those things happen, a lot of times those ideas are organically built through the team here. So like the girls night out, I mean, that was already planned and set up. And they’ve been talking about it. And they just came to me and asked I pay for and that was it. Yeah, yeah. So I think at this point, because it’s so natural, because the friendships are so deep here. There’s really nothing contrived about it. It just happens.
That’s cool. That’s really cool. Are you seeing a lot of hiring of people and referrals, organically through the team of people they worked with previously, or friends, they have to join the video team?
Sure, our best efforts our getting our best answer. And most of our people are coming from referrals in the last couple of years. We do what most people do, right? So we’re posted on Indeed, we’re running LinkedIn ads. I mean, there’s going through recruiters occasionally. And typically, that’s a very long process. And we get a lot of low quality candidates where you have to really funnel through a lot. And I would say the majority of our hires, probably since 2016, has come from internal referrals, which is amazing, right? Because now you know that, clearly, they’re engaged, and they believe in the company, if they’re bringing their friends into the space.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s cool. But everyone I’ve met on the team has seemed super engaged. And it does feel borderline cult like at times. But I much prefer the word family and then called down and love the vibe here. I’m really excited for where you’re at right now, in this moment of time. Because you’re, you’re doing great. But you’re also clearly not just sitting back and coasting, and riding on the success of being first to a market, you’re seeing the big opportunity and going after it. And challenging things redoing your core values, even though they’ve been you know, good enough to get you here. So I think you’ve got some amazing growth ahead and appreciate you sharing this sort of moment in time.
Thanks. We do too, man. Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. Anything else you want to share before we say goodbye?
I would say if you’re listening this podcast, and if you’re not using video and you’re thinking about it, I would we would definitely like to work with you. If you are using video and it’s not us. Once again, we would love to chat with you. I think, you know, for us, one of the things has been really cool is recognizing how amazing the tech community is here. You know, when we relocated down here in 2015 You know, we were sort of the outsider It took us a while to really understand that there was an engaged community here, it actually happened all through powderkeg. So, you know, shameless plug for you. But truly, I mean, most of my great connections and how we’ve networked here in the city has come from the relationships I’ve sort of gained from going to the powderkeg events. I just was having happy hour with Andy from a couple days ago, a great friend of mine, an amazing mentor, and I can name dozens more. But once again, it’s come from this really cool community. What I love is that when I go out and meet these people, it’s like we’re giving advice back and forth, but it’s so free, and we love giving back to each other. And so I would say that’s where I’m at right now, because of how tight the community is, we would love to get back to so if there’s anything that we could do to help support a business here in terms of them implementing or using video, we’d love the chance to do
it. Awesome, man, I appreciate that. And thanks for your generous leadership, not just a co video, but in the community. Yeah, too. Cool. Thanks. Thank you. Thanks for listening to our conversation with Jason price. wanted to remind you to check out code videos new culture profile at powderkeg.com/code video. They’re growing like crazy, and you can learn a lot from their profile. There you’ll find testimonials from current employees, leadership styles, open positions, and more. You can even get connected to the right person that CO video if you think you might be the right fit for their team. So go to powderkeg.com/co video again, that’s co video all one word, and click Get it in show at the top of the page to get started. Again, that’s powderkeg.com/co video. I hope you enjoyed this episode with Jason price. If you took something away from this, please make sure you share it with a friend or someone you think that could benefit from some of the knowledge that we’ve shared in this particular episode. If you want to subscribe to us on the podcast, please just go on over to powderkeg.com/itunes you can find all the show notes for this episode at powder keg.com. We can also subscribe to our email newsletter. Get some of the latest news information from amazing tech companies around the country and also around the world and follow some of what we’re doing around the world with the powder keg movement. Thanks so much for tuning in and we’ll catch you next time on powderkeg igniting startups