Good Ways to Build Entrepreneurial Working Vibe

culture at work

Photo credit: Amy Xie

This Thursday night in downtown, Manhattan, WeWork Labs and Turnstone co-hosted a #smalltalk panel session about “Culture at Work”, which addressed several good options to help entrepreneurs provide a more spontaneous working interface for employees to have fun at work.

“We want to be a place that everyone wants to work for,” says Alex Miller, one of the panelists of the event and also the Vice President of Operations for Stack Exchange, a global network of Q&A websites where experts can meet and get answers to their questions.

Hiring employees who share the similarities and common interests to let them be a team is the first idea to establish an enjoyable culture at work.

By being asked about how to define whether a candidate could be a potential employee, as a panelist, Magda Kozak, Human Resources from Pivotal Labs, indicates “what kind of culture of your company determines whom you’d like to hire”.

Discussing how to improve the internal communication for startups, Erik Martin, the third speaker of the event, currently works as a General Manager in Reddit, thinks “transparency is the key with employees when you’re communicating with them.”

Panelists all shared the audience with their experiences, such as setting up Ping-Pong tables in the office, taking employees out for lunch or training sessions, providing beneficial healthcare coverage, etc.

“Everyone in Stack Exchange uses Google Hangouts,” says Alex Miller. But he also suggested “people couldn’t always do business over the computer, sometimes you have to bring them together.”

It is ideal that everyone in your team actively expect to go out with each other for happy-hours, but it is also based on respecting employee’s personal life.

“We do not get involved with people’s lives outside the office,” says Alex Miller.

“It’s fine that they don’t hang out. They don’t have to be friends as long as they get along with each other and they work well together,” says Erik Martin.

For companies that have offices in multiple locations in different cities or countries, Magda Kozak advises to identify culture by analyzing the demographics for employees and investigate what kind of lifestyle they prefer.

“Employees who work in our L.A. office are more family-oriented while those in New York office are more into after-work-hang-out. So we understand people in L.A. want to leave work earlier or take a couple days off working from home.”

Co-founder of WeWork Lab, Jesse Middleton (left), with  event attendees

Co-founder of WeWork Lab, Jesse Middleton (left), with event attendees. Photo credit: Amy Xie

Unlike corporations, startups are relatively small businesses with a group of enthusiasts who are younger and looking forward to taking challenges. They normally work long hours with each other for team projects. Under the stressful workload, it is especially necessary for entrepreneurs to create a friendly and energetic working atmosphere that allow these risk-takers with ideas to be engaged and connected closely.

“You are not going to build a successful company only on culture but there is a chance that you’ll fail if you don’t have people working well together,” says Jesse Middleton, co-founder of WeWork Labs.



Dress to Code: Fashion Your Ideas Technically

Who doesn’t like fall in New York City? Crispy days start with football season and a sense of fashion. As Big Apple turns on its Runway mode, a group of people with brilliant designing ideas were gathering together for a one-day hackathon last Saturday in Flatiron, Manhattan.

Organized by General Assembly and sponsored by Glamour magazine and Council of Fashion Designer of America (CFDA), the concept of fashion hackathon is to team up software developers and fashion designers to create software projects with a better user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).

“Yes, it’s a competition and we’ll have different prizes for our top three winners.”

On the left: Cindi Leive; on the right: Steven Kolb

Cindi Leive (left); Steven Kolb (right).

The event was started with greetings from Steven Kolb, CEO of CFDA, and Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour, along with a series of presentations about Application Programming Interface (API) by programming experts from multiple perspectives, including Facebook, Tumblr, Gilt, Aviary, Glamour and Hacker League.

A programmer from Aviary were presenting API

A programmer from Aviary was presenting API.

Attendees majorly consisted of software developers, fashion designers, and a few of free-lancers. During this one-day session, they all actively shared their thoughts with each other.

“I really like the event, as I always did with all the events from General Assembly,” says a developer who works in a technology firm in midtown, Manhattan. “And hackathon is a great chance to meet more entrepreneurs and opportunities.”

Regarding to several specific subjects in blending fashion with technology, fashion lovers and application programmers brainstormed creative ideas, such as customizing shopping interface for customers or mobile users by providing certain functions to help shoppers measure their clothes size without going to stores.

Inspired by entrepreneurial experience, General Assembly has been acting as an innovative supporter to assist entrepreneurs and startup companies in New York City for nearly 3 years.

“Nothing is as chic as a clean line of code. We wanna help.”

During the judging process of the competition, teams were asked to showcase their prototypes and application demos. Finally, judges made the decisions on winners by analyzing whether the demo reflected customer’s need, the product is profitable for commercial use or not, and if it provided a friendly use experience.

The first prize was gained by Thrifter, who designed an application that allows shoppers to bid clothes. Apart from cash prize, Thrifter team will also have the opportunity to pitch Andrew Siegel, head of strategy for Advanced Publications, parent company of Glamour magazine.

[Photos by Amy Xie]