The email came in and I was jazzed to find out I would be working at Hedvig. I knew exactly what my first course of action would be. I fired up HBOgo (borrowed account credentials, don’t forget I’m still a college student) and began an anthropologic study of my future work environment with the help of a “Silicon Valley” binge session. Side note: if you don’t work at a startup or even in tech, it’s still a hilarious show.
You’re not going to believe this, but tv didn’t prepare me for the real world! The reality is that scrappiness is what forges a unique culture in startups, not clichés. Your company can have all the nerf guns in the world but still have no personality. Yet the question I get the most from friends, family, and peers: How startupy is Hedvig?
Well, I’m tired of answering everyone one at a time. And what better way to answer en masse than in a blog? Here is a list of 15 of my more fascinating anthropological findings on what makes Hedvig “startupy”:
- Legend has it our premiere boardroom was promptly (read: immediately) turned into a ping pong room. That room houses daily battles of head-to-head-all-out rivalry. It starts around 4 p.m. when lunch is digested and the engineers are ready for a little break. Our CEO, Avinash, tops the leaderboard. And it’s not because people pander to him!
- “Famished Fridays” include: beer, buffalo wings and if you’re lucky guitar lessons from Eric. This is our time to kick off the weekend as a team.
- I thought I was an adventurous eater before coming to Hedvig. I learned otherwise. On any given day, our lunch delivery can consist of: Burmese, South Indian, Greek, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Thai, sushi and, if I beg, pizza.
- Our cofounder, Srinivas, still organizes company outings. As a company we’ve enjoyed movies and once went to paintball. Though in retrospect, that may have just been an excuse for Srinivas to take a shot at his older brother Avinash.
- The VP of solutions, Suresh, is a certified yoga master. No wonder he’s so calm and collected with customers! Rumor has it his wife is even more of a yoga guru..
- I’ve seen a lot of my co-workers in socks or, worse, barefoot. At first, I thought this was madness but as time has passed, I’ve realized it shows a high level of comfort. As if one was working from home… Minus the home.
- We have an Xbox room but only FIFA is played and taken as seriously as ping pong. Actually, we’re still looking for a missing controller, if you bring it back no questions will be asked. In fact, you may even be gifted some pad Thai!
- Conference rooms aren’t officially named, which I’ve heard is typical startup behavior. However, each conference room has a nickname and they are:
- Ping pong room (see point 1)
- The sauna (a room that warms up around 2:00 pm, you can often find me there)
- The other room with a phone (Yes, that is its real name)
- Bean bag room (sometimes called I think people nap there room)
- The Xbox room
- The meat locker (seriously so cold I would consider it if we ever needed a location for interrogations or salsa storage)
- Yes, it’s true all email addresses are just your first name @hedviginc.com, but similar to our conference rooms, many of us have nicknames. In thinking about this, I’m aware that I don’t have one, or I don’t have one I know about. More research needs to be done here. Maybe B-dawg, Single-t, Double-t, C.O., Phil-a-buster, James Bond, or Santa Claus can help me out.
- Alas, t-shirts, require their own budget line item. Need an idea for a doctoral thesis? I would suggest “the fluctuation of supply and demand between engineers and free T-shirts.” The mere fact that we save most shirts for events gives the engineers and insatiable desire for more swag. One of our engineers actually has a sixth sense (“I see dead swag”) where he can feel when new promotional items arrive in marketing.
- Slack is used but 99% of the time just for giphys. Banter at Hedvig comes as easy as peering around your monitor, but something indescribable is conveyed in a cute panda rolling out of a tree. Mondays, am I right?
- You have a better chance of winning the lottery than finding one of our engineers in the office before 9 a.m. (Avinash is the exception).
- Even the coffee tables are covered in whiteboards. These are sometimes used to diagram technology concepts, but more often doodled upon by visiting children.
- We’ve tried every lunch delivery service you can imagine, and some you couldn’t. DoorDash, Eat24, Munchery, Foodler, Amazon Prime Now, Google Express, Safeway, GrubHub and Waitro. One of those isn’t real.
- Everyone has second roles that help the office function. I would like to tell you some of my favorites:
- Head of product marketing – fire marshal/Famished Friday DJ
- Technical engineer – lunch ordering
- VP of products – battery charging
- VP of engineering – beer and buffalo wing runs
- CEO – milk stocking
- Senior director of marketing – interior decorator
- Technical engineer – pantry item ordering
- VP of marketing – printer and scanner assistance
- Support specialist – in house florist
- DevOps engineer – anything on Amazon. Seriously, anything.
- Whoever is closest to the door – mail distribution
Company culture can’t be forced, it comes from the bond developed as different people work toward the same goal. As I continue the study of my surroundings, I am consistently impressed by the effort of each individual to make Hedvig a great place to work. So how startupy is Hedvig? Pretty darn startupy. But in its own unique way.
Don’t believe me? Come join us and find out for yourself. Just click the link below! The mail distributor will pause from coding to greet you at the door.