Sadly, I don’t think founders in Asia give enough thought towards culture. Or, perhaps, no one is talking about culture openly in this part of the world.
At Tech in Asia, we are blessed and proud that one of the key factors of our company’s survival in the last four years is our culture. As I sip my coffee on a warm Saturday, I decided to reflect and scribble some notes on how culture has turned out to be one of our key competitive advantages.
Culture unites and filters
Birds of a feather flock together. We believe that people who have that natural Tech in Asia chemistry, understand each other better. Gathering people with the same frequency enables us to communicate and work better together. To us, a cohesiveculture is half the battle won.
Conversely, a strong identity helps to filter out prospective team members who may not gel with the team. That doesn’t mean that these who don’t fit in are less talented, weird, or crazy. We may well be the weird and crazy ones.
We have made several tough decisions over the years to let very talented people go, rather than running the risk of diluting the culture we have worked so hard to build. That is how much we value the integrity of our culture.
Culture creates a better working experience
A positive company culture goes a long way in keeping the daily work experience vibrant, exciting and fresh. We realized team members look forward coming to work everyday because, for them, work doesn’t feel like work. The fun of spending time in the office with each other makes working really enjoyable.
We inevitably began to view our office as a safe space, and, as a second home. This eliminates one of the greatest reasons for leaving a job — having to work in a clinical, unwelcoming, and individualistic office environment. So far so good: we’ve been very blessed to keep most of our key team members over the last 4 years.
From our base in Singapore, Tech in Asia has since expanded to three other offices — Jakarta, Tokyo, and most recently Bangalore. Including our network of journalists, we are in 10 different countries. Culture is one of the first things we attempt to get right and set in place, when establishing new offices. A good understanding of company culture amongst new hireshelps smoothen the process of expanding into a full scale team.
Culture guides the company
More than guiding a company’s behavior and work ethics, understanding culture means understanding a company’s character and its ultimate mission. Amongst our leaders and team members, culture is like glue and a guiding light.
As Tech in Asia grows and scales, there will be no shortage of challenges. Culture is what will keep us together through thick and thin, and guide us through some pretty tough decisions. When in doubt, we always look back at our mission, culture code, and core values.
For example, our customer-first core value brings clarity to the table when we make decisions. Our stakeholders are very clear that at Tech in Asia users will always come first, followed by our team members and investors. Every move we make, we ask ourselves, "How does this help our users? How does this help the ecosystem?"
Don’t delay culture building
There are a thousand and one problems in a startup. The only consistent thing that happens in a startup is that shit will always crop up.
Don’t let problems prevent you from building culture. Don’t mess up your culture.
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