A strong culture is a secret ingredient to ensuring a growth-stage company succeeds. As a company evolves and develops, it is imperative to maintain its culture to thrive in the competitive landscape. Kyle Ryland, Sumeru’s managing partner, affirmed that the right company culture is critical. Sumeru spends an intentional amount of time assessing the health of the culture before entering into a partnership.
For a growth-stage company, growing pains will come. Will your culture be able to not only survive but also thrive? Here are three reasons why a strong culture will help your company succeed.
A strong culture executes the founder’s vision.
First and foremost, a company’s founder or co-founders determine its culture. They are the heartbeat, the soul, of the business. They identified the unmet need in the marketplace and dreamed of the original vision for the product. As a result, the founder, in essence, is the company’s culture.
Similarly, when Sumeru meets a founder, they get a first glimpse of the company’s culture. They examine the founder when they assess the culture of a company. “The founders are the culture carriers of the companies that we invest in,” noted Ryland. If the founders are the largest stakeholders, they are typically actively involved in the business. They are heavily invested, personally and financially. The success of the company is of prime importance to them.
The founder, who best understands the market, builds a team to implement their vision. Their role is to cast the concept to their employees and invite them into the company’s mission. When the company successfully communicates goals and core values, employee buy-in naturally follows. Now, the employees share a similar passion for the product and possess the desire to execute the founder’s vision.
A strong culture creates a collaborative culture.
A growth-stage company’s culture is dependent on the support of its people. The culture’s environment is inevitably co-developed by the employees that they hire. To gain a holistic understanding of the founder and insights into the company’s inner workings, Sumeru spends time with other people in the organization. They listen to the thoughts and experiences of cross-functional teams to inform their perspective about the culture.
Moreover, as a growth capital investment firm, Sumeru is highly interested in companies about their people. It is even reflected in their tagline, “Operating at the intersection of people and technology.” And some of the most successful companies foster this collaborative culture.
“And in addition to that perspective, growing and scaling these businesses for management teams is hard. It’s exciting, and it’s fun. But it’s also hard,” said Ryland. “But you’ve got to have the right culture, collaboration, self-awareness, excitement and ambition at the organization to be able to make that successful.”
This collaboration, ergo, produces a sense of community among the employees. They become high-performers. This boosts morale and productivity, strengthening the development of a company.
A strong culture is a learning culture.
What is a surefire way to outlast – and perhaps surpass – your competition? Foster an always learning culture.
To possess a strong culture, you must create an environment that encourages learning, personally and professionally. As aforementioned in one of our other podcasts, “You cannot grow if you do not learn,” said Sanjeet Mitra, Sumeru co-founder, and managing director. Growth and learning are interlinked. Maintaining a culture of always learning unlocks a company’s power to develop its employees, foster better collaboration and scale a business.
This focus transitions culture from one of passive participation to active, engaged learning and development. Growing pains are less challenging to endure because of the preparedness of the team. Thus, a learning culture provides sustainability to growth-stage companies–when the people thrive, the company thrives.
Are you interested in learning how to grow your company from industry experts? Listen to the Scaling X podcast: “What Capital can Mean to a Growth-Stage Company With Kyle Ryland.” Ryland identifies the distinction between private equity and growth capital, what Sumeru looks for in a founder, and other elements of strong company culture.