How I created a culture in my startup accidentally, on purpose

By Mike Gozzo

We recently made our first hire at Appifier and I couldn’t be happier. We searched for months to find an individual with the right mix of creativity, passion and technical prowess and chased a few red herrings on the way. We’ve got him now, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what this means for our company as it evolves.

There comes a time in a startup where you stop thinking of it as a “project” and start thinking of it as this living, breathing, organism that is somehow greater than a whole of its parts. Although I’m not a father (yet!), I’m guessing that most parents feel this way about their kids. Particularly, as they sit back and watch the seeds they’ve sowed grow into a unique, amazing individual.

Today, my startup said its first words.

Nobody else heard the words. And if they did, they probably wouldn’t realize that what they heard wasn’t gibberish baby talk. Today, my startup showed me its culture, and it looked like this:

Eddie Vedder - Employee of the Month

This poster was placed on the wall near the entrance of our office, completely visible to anyone who might be passing by. The best part is, Eddie Vedder, really is an Appifier employee… or at least hundreds of people think he is.

“Ed Vedder” is the kind soul that has been manning Appifier’s support desk since we debuted on TechCrunch back in January. He’s served hundreds of users to date and nobody has batted an eye. (Though they have complimented him on his excellent demeanor and helpful attitude!) It’s a psudonym that took us from a basement and through our seed round and helped us provide the appearance that we were bigger than we actually were.

Today, my team paid hommage to a silly internal peculiarity with class and elegance. This is a company and a team that’s better than I ever could be. It’s got a personality that is bigger than the sum of its parts and no matter what happens on this startup journey, I can say with conviction that when you’re building  a company, the most rewarding moments are not the milestones you hit, the revenue you bring in or the funding you close. The rewarding moments, as an entrepreneur (and as a parent) are those where you realize that you made the world at least a little bit better.

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