An Inside Look at 8 Mission-Driven NYC Tech Companies

Looking for your next role? These companies are offering the ability to work for something much greater than a paycheck

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Nov. 09, 2022
An Inside Look at 8 Mission-Driven NYC Tech Companies
Brand Studio Logo

Why is working at a mission-driven company so important? Simply put, it prevents work from feeling too much like “work.”

At mission-driven companies, people aren’t just working for the sake of scaling. Yes, they have goals directly tied to the company’s growth, but those goals are in service of realizing something much greater than expanded market share or securing the next funding round.

Building a truly mission-driven company is difficult because the mission itself needs to be more than a slogan describing a company’s higher purpose. A set of ideals and values that are tangible and actionable and explain “why” a project is taken on and “how” it will be completed make a company’s mission mean something. 

New York is filled with open tech jobs right now — there are more than 8,000 open roles on Built In NYC as of this writing —  and some of them are at companies that have grown rapidly without losing sight of their missions. If helping people more easily access mental healthcare, ensuring pets live longer and healthier lives, and democratizing access to artificial intelligence sounds like a good way to spend your work week then continue reading to learn more about what it’s like to be on a truly mission-driven team.

 

John Ong
Engineering Manager • Headway

Headway is a healthtech company whose platform enables people to more easily access mental healthcare by making it easier for practitioners to accept insurance as payment.

 

What is Headway’s mission?

One in four people in the United States has a treatable mental health condition, but most do not get the care they need. Headway’s mission is to build a new mental healthcare system that everyone can access.

 

As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

All work should clearly align with team goals, company goals and the mission, and leaders are expected to work with their teams to craft clear and actionable goals. For example, on the patient team, we worked to rebuild the core booking flow with an eye to improving conversion. The better the conversions, the more patients are able to book with a provider, resulting in more care that may have not occurred otherwise.

We also prioritize building an ownership mentality. While we expect leads to drive clear goals for the team, we also encourage and empower our teams to push back when things don’t make sense. No planning process is perfect and we don’t pretend it is. Encouraging the team to “clarify intent,” which is a company principle, allows us to continually improve our goals and focus our work on what is needed to achieve the desired impact.

All work should clearly align with team goals, company goals and the mission, and leaders are expected to work with their teams to craft clear and actionable goals.”


What aspect of Headway’s culture or values best reflects your company mission?

Of our principles, “think future first,’’ best reflects the company mission of increasing access to mental healthcare. We know the current mental health system is not enough, but we are also challenged by needing to envision, design and build a new system that is accessible to everyone. The intent of this principle is to continually envision how the work ahead of us could influence the future so that our future vision comes into focus as quickly as possible.

An example of this principle in action would be the new patient-matching product we’re developing. Since its inception, Headway has built a digital front door to allow patients to book directly with a provider 24/7, entirely online. While we’re proud of the product, we also recognize that a traditional directory search best serves patients who have the language and experience to express their needs. This is only a subset of patients and it is through this lens we are building a matching experience for patients new to therapy who may not have the language or self-awareness to effectively navigate our current search product.

 

 

Mara Kaufman
VP Customer Success • Particle Health

Particle Health’s healthcare data platform contains more than 270 million patient records from more than 70,000 health systems, practices and clinics, all of which can be accessed via an API.

 

What is Particle Health’s mission?

Our mission is to enable simple and secure access to actionable healthcare data for digital health innovators. As a result, we also intend to destroy the fax machine.

One of our team values is ‘interoperability expertise,’ which is a major differentiator in our ability to achieve the mission at hand.”


As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

It can be hard to understand how daily actions have an impact unless they’re broken down into bite-sized pieces. Having smaller, KPI-based goals helps prevent teams from feeling overwhelmed. It becomes easier to step back and make adjustments after asking yourself, “Is what I’m spending time on contributing to a specific metric?” versus, “Is my work solving massive healthcare data access issues?”

Our leadership team works our way down from the high-level mission to company objectives, and from there I work with my team on department-specific key results that feed into those larger goals. When it comes to customer success, my focus is on enablement and simplicity. We concentrate on what it means for a customer to achieve value and how to lead customers there efficiently. We look at metrics like time-to-live, NPS and query volumes to track our progress. We’ve divided our processes into time-measured tasks so we can focus on specific bottlenecks.

 

What aspect of Particle Health’s culture or values best reflects your company mission?

While our mission is simple, underlying it are incredibly complex data challenges interwoven with layers of legislation, security and endless options for potential use cases. One of our team values is “interoperability expertise,” which is a major differentiator in our ability to achieve the mission at hand. Having subject matter knowledge enables us to keep our implementations straightforward and provide data in a format that ensures our customers’ desired outcomes are achieved. 

Since we understand things in depth, we’re highly successful at cutting out the noise and breaking down customer-facing processes into smaller, easy-to-understand pieces much like we do with our internal goals. Having the right data at the right time can be lifesaving for our customers’ patient populations, so we’re highly motivated to create the simplest, fastest paths to product value.

 

 

Nina Rauch
Senior Social Impact Lead • Lemonade

Lemonade is an insurance company that offers coverage for homeowners, renters, pets and more.

 

What is Lemonade’s mission?

Lemonade launched with a mission to create the most lovable insurance available — and part of that is our commitment to the world around us. Plenty of companies pay lip service to change and social justice, but as a certified B-Corp and public benefit corporation, Lemonade proves that our commitment to social impact is hardwired in our DNA. We’re reaching that goal through our giveback program, which lies at the core of our business model. Since our launch in September 2016, Lemonade has donated over $6 million to an incredible range of nonprofits. 

After a customer gets a Lemonade policy, they’re asked to select from a pre-vetted list of charitable causes to support with the leftover premiums. Lemonade doesn’t make more money by denying claims, and any fraud on the part of the consumer would be diverting cash not from the company but from the likes of the Red Cross or the ACLU. This translates into real, measurable social good.

Lemonade launched with a mission to create the most lovable insurance available — and part of that is our commitment to the world around us.”


As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

As Lemonade’s social impact lead, I look after, choose and build relationships with the nonprofits we work with. We take employee suggestions and also engage with customers requesting to change causes and add new nonprofits. We need to make sure our response is fitting to world events. For example, when the pandemic began, Lemonade gave our customers the choice to redirect their funds to the COVID-19 response charity Direct Relief, resulting in a donation of over $50,000. We were able to facilitate this switch within 24 hours thanks to our technology. 

In 2016, Lemonade became a B-Corp, which means we’re publicly held to a certain standard when it comes to our social and environmental impact. Every few years we answer 150 questions that dig into every part of the business, from our supply chain and charitable giving to employee benefits and customer satisfaction. It’s really important for every company to remember it’s more than just giving money back. It’s also making sure that you are a good, ethical company and that you treat your employees well.

 

What aspect of Lemonade’s culture or values best reflects your company mission?

We want to make sure that our social impact is as prevalent internally as it is externally. We partner with Deed, the employee giving platform, to run employee volunteering events at each of our locations and for our remote employees. Lemonade is also an equal-opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusivity. We’ve created a company-wide employee resource group focused on anti-racism education, launched our “Maker Community Groups” to give employees the opportunity to align on specific issues, and provide ongoing training for managers and recruiters on hiring inclusively. 

In 2019, we signed on to the United Nation’s Standards of Conduct for Business, tackling discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, we appointed Tulsee Doshi as our AI ethics and fairness advisor to ensure fairness, privacy and transparency are at the forefront of our product.

 

 

Brett Podolsky
Chief Culture Officer • The Farmer's Dog

The Farmer’s Dog is a direct-to-consumer pet food company that offers personalized, human-grade food for dogs.

 

What is The Farmer’s Dog’s mission?

The Farmer’s Dog exists to help people give their dogs the longest, healthiest lives possible. We started by overhauling the pet food industry — replacing the highly processed pellets that dogs have been eating for decades with healthy, fresh food delivered to people’s doors.


As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

We started the company because we saw firsthand the massive impact a simple, fresh diet could have on a dog’s life as well as an industry that needed change. When you have that kind of authentic story and mission, everything falls directly from that. All of our business decisions, company initiatives and day-to-day projects are rooted in driving our mission forward.

Our leaders align on function-specific objectives that support the broader mission, and they make it clear how everyone’s job contributes. We tend to reject best practices and encourage everyone to look for new and better ways to approach problems. And we routinely revisit and reevaluate those objectives to make sure that we’re always serving the needs of our customers and our mission in the best way possible.

We tend to reject best practices and encourage everyone to look for new and better ways to approach problems.

 

What aspect of The Farmer’s Dog’s culture or values best reflects your company mission? 

We have a set of core company values that underlie everything we do. We articulate them clearly and they guide every aspect of our culture. One of these values is “seek better,” and it really goes to the heart of our mission. The industry was stuck in a terrible status quo and dogs were suffering for it. We made something completely different and better. That “seek better” mindset is ingrained in everything we do and plays out every day in a million different ways. 

We tend to reject best practices and encourage everyone to look for new and better ways to approach problems. For example, we have a Slack channel where anyone can voice an idea for making something better — from the smallest detail of our customer experience to bigger business ideas. Our leaders engage with all these suggestions and we regularly see them come to life in improvements in our company, culture, brand and product.

 

 

Hollie Castro
Head of People • Miro

Miro’s whiteboard platform is used by hybrid, remote and in-office teams for brainstorming sessions, building customer journey maps, diagramming workflows, and more. 

 

What is Miro’s mission?

Our mission is to empower teams to create the next big thing. As the leading visual collaboration platform, Miro empowers remote, in-office and hybrid teams to communicate and collaborate across formats, tools, channels and time zones without physical constraints.

 

As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

The people organization exists to bring Miro’s vision to life inside the company. We are co-creating one of the best hybrid companies in the world, and this means cultivating our most important and expensive asset — our people. From the beginning to the end of the employee lifecycle, we are charged with creating, curating and iterating an amazing experience. This results in enabling teams everywhere to create the next big thing.

Doing this effectively means designing from a user-centric mindset, constantly reprioritizing based on impact and removing friction from our daily work. Making work easier is part of our goal. I also lean into a learning mindset, one rooted in curiosity, experimentation and iteration, and I encourage everyone in my organization to do the same. These traits are core to my DNA and to Miro’s culture. Being transparent and sharing constructive feedback enables us to learn, deliver impact and achieve success as a team.

The people organization exists to bring Miro’s vision to life inside the company.


What aspect of Miro’s culture or values best reflects your company mission?

We start with interviewing and hiring. It’s easy to look for skills and competencies without paying attention to hiring for our values, but this is core to who we bring through our doors. Our values guide our mission every day, shape our culture and influence how we work together to create impact. 

In order to learn, grow and drive change, we make a habit of holding retrospectives. We believe an effective retro is one that comes from a place of empathy and respect, goes deep and finishes with specific action steps. When we involve Mironeers in the co-creation of our products from ideation to design to pilot, the result resonates more profoundly across our organization.

 

 

Ken Gardner
VP of Marketing • Summer

Summer’s platform is designed to simplify student loan repayment by making it easier for companies and financial institutions to offer student loan assistance.

 

What is Summer’s mission?

Our mission is to help all borrowers minimize the burden of student loan debt and plan for healthier financial futures. We deliver on that promise with technology and our incredible borrower success team.

Our mission is a lens for everything we do! Decision-making starts with a simple question: Is this good for borrowers?


As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

Our mission is a lens for everything we do! Decision-making starts with a simple question: Is this good for borrowers? And as a certified B-Corp, Summer has a double bottom-line obligation. When borrowers win, we win. For example, our team worked to launch a new loan forgiveness eligibility feature just 48 hours after a recent policy announcement, helping borrowers and partners navigate the news in record time.

 

What aspect of Summer’s culture or values best reflects your company mission?

Every week during our all-hands meeting, the team shares a borrower story that can span from unlocking life-changing forgiveness to folks who might have received bad news about being further away from their financial goals than they thought. We laugh, cry and celebrate together as a team. Oftentimes these stories inform product updates, impromptu brainstorming sessions and more. These sorts of activities really do hint at what makes Summer, Summer.

 

 

Ivette Lara-Molina
Manager of Borrower Experience • January

January is a fintech company that sets a new standard for humanized debt collection. Its tech-enabled platform improves recovery rates and sets creditors and borrowers up for success.

 

What is January’s mission?

January sets a new standard for humanized debt collection. Our tech-enabled platform improves recovery rates and sets creditors and borrowers up for success. Our mission is to give borrowers more compassionate ways to get back on track while ensuring empathy and promoting dignity throughout the process. In addition, we have an unflinching commitment to ethics and compliance.

By ingraining empathy into the DNA of our team, we ensure that every interaction with January reflects our mission.

 

As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

When hiring for the borrower experience, or BX team, we take the time to evaluate each candidate on a variety of competencies, the most important of which is empathy. Having empathy for borrowers is the driving force of our mission and what sets us apart. By ingraining empathy into the DNA of our team, we ensure that every interaction with January reflects our mission.

This is also something we evaluate employees on. When building career tracks for the BX team, empathy was woven through each level, including management. We believe this is vital for the success of both individual contributors and leaders. Finally, when building KPIs for the team, we are constantly focused on how to improve productivity without the borrower experience suffering. A question we often ask ourselves is: How do we ensure our support specialists have time to be thoughtful and empathetic? We build our metrics and prioritize process improvements with this question in mind.

 

What aspect of January’s culture or values best reflects your company mission?

One of our values is “assume and practice positive intent.” Not only do we live this value internally with our colleagues, but it’s also a fundamental part of how we engage with borrowers every day. A majority of Americans would agree that finances are their number one stress in life. Additionally, there is a great deal of stigma surrounding personal debt and how one might have fallen into financial hardship. We understand that the borrowers we work with never intended to interact with us and that they’re likely speaking with us during a very stressful period in their lives. 

By recognizing the flaws in traditional debt collection, we are able to live up to our mission and apply our values each and every day. Having empathy for each borrower we speak with, taking the time to understand their unique situation and working to find a compassionate outcome that works best for them are some of the ways our team is able to put our values into practice.

 

 

Robert Bainbridge
Chief People Officer • Peak

Companies use Peak’s cloud artificial intelligence platform to build, launch and manage artificial intelligence applications designed to help guide decision-making. 

 

What is Peak’s mission?

Our mission is to change the way the world works by democratizing artificial intelligence for every business and building a great company everyone loves being a part of. “Changing the way the world works” is the big, bold statement we rally around. It has a dual meaning, both in a tactical sense through the use of AI and making it accessible to every business and person, but it also speaks to a more sustainable, equal future and a new way of working that works for everyone. 

It’s also vital to us that our mission encompasses building a great company. One of our values is “responsible,” which means we are all responsible for the culture and for building a company everyone loves being a part of. This connection to the mission and culture is reinforced at every opportunity. For example, everyone at Peak is a shareholder and “owns” the business we are creating and is, therefore, connected to the mission. “Everyone” is also an important point: Our ambition is for Peak to be an open, inclusive, equitable and diverse business for all.

Whether it’s external or internal, everything we do should directly influence the mission, and if it doesn’t we shouldn’t be doing it.


As a leader, how do you translate your company mission into specific actions or goals for your team?

Our OKRs are renewed annually and reviewed quarterly and always fold up into the company mission. Whether it’s external or internal, everything we do should directly influence the mission, and if it doesn’t we shouldn’t be doing it. Each team will feed into specific OKRs so it’s clear and obvious how they influence the mission.

Each quarter in our engagement survey we ask the same question: How connected to the mission do you feel, and is there anything that would help you feel more connected? Responses to this question have genuinely changed how we operate, informed our onboarding process and how communication flows throughout the business. In addition, anyone at Peak can contribute to our corporate social responsibility committee, the group that is actually behind our recent B Corp application.

 

What aspect of Peak’s culture or values best reflects your company mission?

To be a truly mission-driven team, it’s essential to weave the mission into the fabric of everything we do and say. This is why our company values roll up into the company mission. The first of these is “open.” We are democratizing AI for every business and we’re working to put the power of AI into everyone’s hands.

Then there’s “smart.” This doesn’t mean clever but rather working in a smart manner and using our skills to make a meaningful difference for our customers. “Curious” refers to the fact that no one has done what Peak is doing before. We are innovative problem solvers who help our customers improve the way they work, run and operate their businesses.

We have “driven” as a value because we won’t change how the world works without significant amounts of drive! Finally, there’s “responsibility.” We are all responsible for Peak, the culture and the team. No one person is bigger than the team and we ensure that we celebrate our success together and share learnings.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Photos from featured companies and Shutterstock.

Hiring Now
PEAK6
Fintech