Startup Insight From Our First 5 Employees ~ #ThanksFor5
This blog post is the second in our #ThanksFor5 series leading up to HootSuite’s 5th birthday on November 28th. View the first post here and visit the blog over the next week to see what else we have in store. And thank you for supporting HootSuite these last five years!
HootSuite has grown incredibly fast, from tiny startup to empowering major enterprises world-over in just five years. Having come so far, it would be easy to forget where it all started. Thankfully we still have amazing people around to remind us about how this company was built: with a fantastic mix of hustle, passion and camaraderie. Here’s what HootSuite’s first 5 employees have to say about how the company’s journey, and why it’s the people, not the product, that matter most.
People call HootSuite a great success story, but what’s truly great is all the talented people behind it, from the first to the newest hire! I grew with HootSuite from a young and nervous boy joining the workforce to a responsible and confident man who learned how to be in charge of his own destiny. Past successes equipped me with confidence, but I still think of our company as a tiny startup because there are 1 billion social media users out there and we only have 8 million of them. It excites me to think that there are still 992 million to go to reach global domination!
I was fortunately enough to be part of HootSuite from near the beginning. At that time, what interested me more than the product was the people. I noticed from the start that this team was a group of creators. I think an important part of why we found success was that this team shared a love for making and building things. Like many other startups we had our share of long nights and overtime, and I have very fond memories of pizza, beer canes, and the satisfaction of getting shit done. I have a saying: “what got us here won’t get us there” – it basically means that we need to constantly improve and grow to reach our goal of building an awesome company. But we shouldn’t forget our work ethics and our passion for making things, whether it’s the product, content, or making new friends and customers.
I can’t offer advice or share experiences of what it’s like to work at startups, as I’ve only worked at one: HootSuite. The thing is, it’s not like work at all. I don’t roll out of bed and dread the thought of heading into the office. I wake up at a reasonable hour, come to work at a decent time, and get to build cool shit with an awesome group of talented people. No one is cracking a whip at HootSuite, because they don’t have to. Everyone has the same goal of building something incredible, and they are self-motivated to do so.
Being at HootSuite has been (and continues to be) a once in a lifetime experience. To be a part of a team that has grown from 5 people to over 300 and built a product that has changed the way that people and businesses interact with social media has been amazing and life changing. Rapid growth isn’t always easy though. One of the biggest challenges for myself has been ‘giving up’ areas of work. As a scrappy startup, you tend to wear multiple hats, but as you grow you need to pass those hats on to others. Finding the right people to wear those hats isn’t always easy, but HootSuite has done an excellent job of that over 300 times so far.
There are still big things ahead for HootSuite and I’m glad to be part of the team that will be making them happen.
I’ll try to quantify what made and still makes HootSuite such a unique and exciting place for many of us to work at.
When you ask old school owls about the early days, the answers are usually vague and rambling. It was a time when many of us weren’t working on HootSuite full-time as it was just an internal tool. No one had kicked down a wall, yet.
Once HootSuite formed as an independent company around a small group of us, we started to realize how fun it could be to really help pioneer a product that hadn’t existed before. The private and public beta only helped to reinforce the fact that there was demand, that we were heading in a good direction.
The excitement comes from working with a small group, tackling problems as they arise while working towards a common goal. When you’re working together and you know the people around you have your back, the problems almost solve themselves.
The beer canes, ices, and all the other cools things don’t create our culture; they are just a result of having an awesome culture to begin with.
Seeing HootSuite grow from a really basic little app, put together by a handful of people (5), to the huge multi-faceted product it is today has been an incredible journey. At the beginning I never thought we’d have millions of users, let alone big-name corporations, celebrities etc., using our little product. I didn’t even really “get” Twitter for the longest time to be honest. But it became quite apparent early on that we were doing something that could be really important for people. And that social media was a true game-changing thing.
Looking back, I still have fond memories of the early team pushing ourselves to build stuff using tools and concepts that were very much new to us. It’s been incredibly satisfying, from a career perspective, to have always been learning and experimenting and pushing boundries. This is something we continue to this day in Engineering. While I admit to not entirely miss the long nights at the office for each major code release (yay for automation!), those early growing pains were a good time for the team. Late nights meant time to bond, learn by fighting with various small disasters, and to consume unhealthy amounts of pizza. It will never be quite the same as then.
The one thing that has really stands out to me, though, is how the spirit and drive of everyone, our company culture, has never changed. If anything, it’s grown and has become even better. To grow so rapidly, but to also keep the energy, determination, and excitement for what we do, is something that’s really hard to accomplish I think. I love how we all really believe 100% in our product and how it can help people handle the ever-changing world of digital communication. There’s a great “work hard, play hard” mentality that makes HootSuite a really vibrant, fun place to be. And it’s that culture that has made the last 5 years really special. I hope for many more great years to come as we take over the world.
All gifs by Greg Williams.