At Custora, employees are encouraged to be themselves. Not a corporate, sanitized version that disappears when they leave the company’s Midtown office, but the real one, with hobbies, interests, goals and career pursuits. Fostering such a company culture takes real work and dedication to employees. Four of Custora’s leaders shared how they work to build it every day.
WHAT THEY DO: Custora is an innovative marketing analytics firm whose cloud-based tools help brands leverage individualized customer insights. Custora’s designers, engineers and analysts work collaboratively to take the “mass” out of marketing.
WHO THEY WORK WITH: Custora’s client roster is peppered with companies of all shapes and sizes, including notable names like Tiffany & Co., Dermstore and Postmates.
EMPLOYEES: Approximately 55.
IDEAL CANDIDATE: One word: collaborative.
KEEPING YOU FUELED: Custora provides its employees with catered lunch five days a week, ensuring brain food is never in short supply.
WORK AND LIFE, BALANCED: Unlimited vacation is a highlight of Custora’s perks package. At minimum, the company encourages employees to spend three weeks out of office per year.
David Stychno, Design Director
As Custora’s design director, David helps his team build intuitive, useful products. He also works with colleagues to help them expand their skills and creativity.
BEYOND WORK: David’s passion for design doesn’t leave when he leaves the office. On weekends, you’ll find him crafting unique objects for his design shop, Leon’s Electric Trout.
What about your company and your work inspires you?
One of our values is to “have fun and be interesting.” Sometimes, people interpret this as being extroverted or funny, but it’s really just about being excited about something and sharing ideas about whatever that might be. Recently, my colleague Ben built this giant harmograph contraption to make cool spiral patterns. Another colleague, Andy, who is a competitive crossword puzzler, gave short presentation about crosswords — now I’m a daily player.
One of our values is to ‘have fun and be interesting.’”
Tell us about a recent project your team worked on together. What were some of the challenges, and how did you overcome them?
Recently, we rebuilt our website. Our new VP of marketing desired a more modular system that would enable his team to build new pages on their own and more easily make copy and image edits. This new design also included a massive increase in creative production for webinars, blog posts and events.
The biggest challenge here was probably establishing an illustration system that enabled us to meet the increased demand while balancing production speed and creative flexibility. After a few weeks of experimentation, we eventually settled into a collage approach with graphic elements and a simple set of rules, which lets us keep pace with marketing while producing cohesive work that “feels” like Custora.
How do you and your colleagues support the onboarding and training of new team members?
Custorientation happens once a quarter. It’s a two-day event where we cover things like processes and interviewing best practices, share early-day stories, and also discover more about the product we make. We have fun while we do it: Each Custoriention group has a fun out-of-the box activity they work on for about two weeks before. This quarter involves making a customer-centric Super Bowl commercial.
Sam Dallas, Software Engineer
Though Sam may be a newer addition to the engineering team at Custora, she is already making an impact with a redesign of the company’s data import processes.
BEYOND WORK: Outside of work, Sam can likely be found with an instrument in hand. An avid bluegrass guitar player, she is also in the process of learning bass and mandolin.
You started as a customer success intern, and now you’re on the tech team. How did Custora support your continued growth?
The team here has been super supportive. I began as an intern on the customer success team and returned in a customer-facing role. I started picking up small analysis projects when the rest of the team needed a hand, and used them as a tool to learn more about scripting. My manager at the time was great about pulling me into new and interesting projects, which I loved. I moved over to the integrations team in a more technical role, which was a great way to learn and start working with our code base. Along the way, I got a ton of help and advice from the rest of the team.
We eat lunch together most days and do ... board game nights, bouldering and occasional happy hours.”
Tell us about how your team communicates their successes and discoveries each week.
We have a weekly tech meeting where we trade off with mini-presentations about new features or tech, along with a retro about that week’s work. It’s helpful to hear about the challenges we’ve faced in terms of bugs or project work. People volunteer to complete action items — like writing a pitch for our next product cycle or fixing a recurring bug — that are generated by the discussion over the next two weeks.
How would you describe the company culture at Custora?
Pretty great! We eat lunch together most days and do fun stuff outside of work. We do biweekly board game nights, bouldering and occasional happy hours. I was also part of the company soccer team.
Nathalie Rodriguez, Talent Lead
As Custora’s talent lead, Nathalie works with all branches of the company to help them accomplish their goals through key hires. She also aids said new hires as they navigate their roles and become full-fledged Custorians.
BEYOND WORK: Interior design and photography inspire Rodriguez. Recently, she has brought these talents into the office, as a member of Custora’s photography club and of the team responsible for redesigning its office.
How did the team support your onboarding and training?
Everyone was very open to me shadowing and provided guidance as I looked to get a holistic understanding of the business. I had the opportunity to shadow different teams and participate in customer calls, which helped to get me up to speed quickly. I sat in on every weekly engineering meeting so I would have an understanding of product-facing things that I wouldn’t otherwise have had insight to.
I had the opportunity to shadow different teams and participate in customer calls, which helped to get me up to speed quickly.”
Tell us about your work. What inspires and motivates you?
I get total satisfaction of placing the right person in the right role and creating a situation where everything feels like a “perfect fit” — not only for us internally, but for the person coming into the new role as well.
How do your colleagues collaborate across teams?
Our product development process is very collaborative in the sense that people outside product and engineering get to pitch new product ideas or enhancements, and we all vote on what gets built. We also create opportunities for people to get to know each other and apply our work values to everyday situations.
Jordan Elkind, Head of Product
Being Custora’s head of product means Jordan wears many hats, from navigating product development and launches, to hosting webinars for clients and prospects. At the end of the day, his goal is to work across teams to build and scale the Custora platform.
BEYOND WORK: If the Columbus Symphony Chorus is performing near you, you might just catch Jordan, who is a classical singer with the group.
You’ve been with Custora for more than five years. How has the company evolved during that time?
The company has grown in a lot of different ways. Our product has matured, become more sophisticated and evolved with the needs of our clients. We’ve also grown in terms of size. It’s crazy to think about the early days when we were just 10 people. Now we have this amazing office in the Garment District and are hiring for almost every single team.
It’s crazy to think about the early days when we were just 10 people.”
How has Custora supported your continued growth?
When I first joined, I was leading efforts on the client success and enablement side. I grew into a product owner and subject matter expert on all things customer analytics. Now I oversee the product organization. It’s been an amazing transition.
If you were talking with someone considering a career at Custora, what would you tell them?
It’s certainly an exciting time to join. For one, we have a lot of roles that are brand new to the company. With that comes an impact in ways that go above and beyond just being a cog on the wheel. We are a smaller organization, so you have the ability to get involved in things outside of your typical day to day. We are also very supportive of transitions into other teams or roles within the company. We put a lot of thought into career development, helping you build a path and setting goals.