Brick by Brick: How to Support Rapid Company Growth

Fast growth is a dream for most startups, but it doesn’t come without obstacles.

Written by Rachael Millanta
Published on Mar. 28, 2022
Brick by Brick: How to Support Rapid Company Growth
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Playwright John Heywood once wrote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” For those in rapidly-growing tech companies, change can certainly feel like it happened overnight — and that their hamlet-sized startup is suddenly as busy and sprawling as a metropolis. 

That’s where culture comes in. It’s the foundation that can scale along with any growing company.

“Our culture is the key to our success,” said Tami Golan, chief people officer at event platform Bizzabo. “We care about our employees and our customers. If you cease caring, nothing else matters and nothing else happens. Even as we’ve seen incredible growth, we’re committed to nurturing the company culture we worked so hard to build.”

Rapid growth can be an exciting and exhilarating experience, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. If companies don’t take steps to maintain a strong sense of culture among their teams, they can very quickly lose any sense of what made them great to begin with. So what’s the secret to ensuring a people-first culture is nurtured as it grows?

Christina Favilla, VP of operations at document automation platform Ocrolus, says that it is important to understand a company’s strengths and grow to complement existing talent and inspire collaboration. “We don’t expect one person to excel across all aspects of the business,” she said. “Instead, we like to cultivate team members by their strengths and bring balance to the entire team. This allows us to excel across all business functions and build up a strong sense of community across teams.”

Many companies set out with growth as a priority, but without laying down the structural and cultural bricks to support it, it’s not long before cracks are visible. Built In NYC spoke further with Golan and Favilla, as well as seven other industry leaders across New York, to discuss how they have managed the exponential growth of their companies and kept their culture intact along the way.

 

Christina Favilla
VP of Operations • Ocrolus

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

Ocrolus has seen a strong product-market fit and steady growth since its inception, but it was during the pandemic that we truly hit our stride and realized how much of a difference our processing powers could make for lenders. Most lenders were unprepared to deal with the onslaught of paycheck protection program (PPP) applications and came to Ocrolus looking for a solution. Luckily, while many came because of PPP, the experience with our products and services convinced them to stay. I’m proud to share that we have a zero percent churn rate amongst core lending customers because our solutions are that sticky!

With PPP slowed down, we are focused on expanding our presence in the mortgage market and still experiencing a lot of growth, thanks to the reputation we’ve earned. We are continually hiring to support this growth and already have approximately 60 new hires slated.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

Training, training and more training. Our unique differentiator is that we combine human-in-the-loop with machine learning for the utmost accuracy, so it’s crucial on the verifier side of our business that our team feels comfortable with the tech. 

Many people are intimidated by new technologies and we know that in order to reassure them, we need to be able to show how easy and reliable our technologies are. That’s why we invest in a robust training program that successfully leverages core business, communication and tech skills to onboard verifiers and inspire confidence in how to work. With this process, we can also actively request participation and feedback on our emerging business model, thereby continually improving our product offerings and recognizing the value of all team members.

Many people are intimidated by new technologies and we know that in order to reassure them, we need to be able to show how easy and reliable our technologies are.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

Our greatest strength as a company is our collaborative culture and its emphasis on teamwork. We know that one person can’t do it all and we wouldn’t expect them to. Instead, we try to hire and position all team members so that they’re empowered to work in the way they can be the most successful. We offer flexible, hybrid work policies to support them. 

 

 

Adit Moskovitch
GM, Enterprise Americas Sales • Kaltura

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

We are experiencing tremendous growth in the sales team — these are exciting times! We expect to hire 20 people by mid-year with even more to come after that. This growth is driven by Kaltura’s innovative approach to the video market, the strength of the video market overall and the company’s growth strategy. 

Kaltura’s growth strategy includes diverse sales and customer success organizations that create growth opportunities for talented individuals with all levels of experience. This growth includes adding to our team of sales and business development representatives, sales account executives, customer success managers, account managers, sales engineers and more.

Growth also comes with an opportunity for new leadership positions that we are filling both through internal promotion and external recruiting. We are doubling down on sales and success!

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

One step Kaltura has taken to avoid growth challenges is investment in onboarding, specifically focused on sales and customer success onboarding and training programs. We proactively increased our sales enablement team to ensure that we are ready to take on these talented professionals that are looking to ramp up quickly and hit the ground running. 

One example of this investment is a robust four-week program we just kicked off a few weeks ago. This program was carefully thought out, combining live video based virtual training, recorded video assets and self-paced preparation to provide new employees with a strong foundation, as well as a community of new joiners that will help support them along the way. In this onboarding, they are introduced to important institutional knowledge, get to know key executives and are trained on both product and approach. Combining this onboarding with a very productive buddy program and several existing mentoring initiatives, led by our fantastic HR organization, mean that new employees can really hit the ground running.

Passion is critical because rapid growth requires everyone jumping in and being a part of the solution.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

Our company culture’s greatest strength is passion. Every Kaltura employee comes to the table with a passion and true care about the business which makes it easy to engage internal partners and collaborate on how to improve. This passion is critical because rapid growth requires everyone jumping in and being a part of the solution. Growth challenges will come up frequently, but we always have internal partners that will come to the table, brainstorm with us and find solutions for both the short and long term. 

A great example is our sales operations team. More sales professionals means there is more need for accurate and effective reporting and insights, and an ability to make changes with increased agility. Our sales operations team punched above their belt to work on delivering better solutions, working with us on CRM hygiene and improving the accuracy and efficiency by which we work by creating more robust actionable reports and dashboards. 

 

 

Bizzabo team members at an inflatable obstacle course with the New York skyline in the background
Bizzabo

 

Tami Golan
Chief People Officer • Bizzabo

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

As we’ve worked to innovate and develop Bizzabo’s technology, we’ve become one of the fastest-growing event technology platforms for in-person, hybrid and virtual events. We’re continuing to invest our $138 million December funding round into product development and strategic acquisitions. The events industry has been massively disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and we’re committed to delivering a holistic, flexible platform to host every type of event with ease.

In 2021, we launched the event experience operating system and acquired four companies. Our hybrid team has grown to more than 400 people working remotely and from five global offices in New York, Montreal, London, Tel Aviv and Kyiv. In the next few months, we’ll move into our new offices in New York and Tel Aviv, and we’re designing both with our hybrid workforce in mind and with the goal of facilitating community and meaningful connections.

In the coming months, we expect to hire 20 to 40 people across the organization, from product and engineering, to marketing, sales and customer success. We’re committed to providing new solutions and comprehensive support to drive the event industry’s ongoing transformation.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

We’ve seen other companies in the industry struggle with rapid growth while taking too narrow a focus on serving one part of the event ecosystem. We’ve intentionally taken a different approach.

After the rapid pivot to entirely virtual events in 2020, we knew we were living through the start of something new. There could never be a “back to normal.” The world was redefining normal and it’s why we invested in rebuilding the event experience operating system from the ground up to serve our hybrid world.

Two years later, many people feel ready to gather in person. Event professionals need a platform to support every kind of event they host. They need a platform designed to make it easy to create hybrid experiences — with in-person and virtual elements — that deliver meaningful business results.

At Bizzabo, we orient everything we do toward driving human connections. Building and sustaining those connections shows up in how we partner with our customers and how we strive to create an exceptional work experience for our employees. Our eight core values anchor our culture and enable us to be intentional with our strategy and growth.

If you cease caring, nothing else matters and nothing else happens.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

At Bizzabo, our culture is the key to our success. We care about our employees and our customers. “We care” is the first of our eight core values. If you cease caring, nothing else matters and nothing else happens. When you don’t care, you disengage. Everything becomes mediocre. The passion dissipates. You’re not as resilient and you lose your grit. 

Our company culture’s greatest strength is its people and our unwavering belief that we are #BetterTogether. None of us can do it alone, but together we are unstoppable. Especially as a global team, our employees have diverse perspectives and experiences. We encourage everyone to be their authentic selves and to bring their unique talents and skills into every line of code, every design, every campaign and every call.

It’s equally necessary to articulate and teach our culture to new employees, to gain their buy-in so that they support it and live it. A few years ago, we were a much smaller company, but even as we’ve seen incredible growth, we’re committed to nurturing the company culture we worked so hard to build. By living by our values every day, we’ve been able to keep our culture even in times of rapid growth.

 

 

Ashley Firmstone
SVP of Customer Success • Rokt

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

The growth of the Rokt customer success team in the last year has been truly astonishing. Even with two tough years through the pandemic, the company revenue grew by 134 percent in 2021! Our customer dynamics shifted and changed a little, where we saw accounts in the retail, streaming and subscription space grow significantly. As a team, we remained resilient and flexible which allowed us to continue to grow the customer team by 22 percent in 2021.

For 2022, Rokt is moving full steam ahead and we are on pace to not only grow revenue another 65 percent year on year, we are also on track to double our team! The velocity at which we are hiring has ramped up as we prepare for the next stage of scale at Rokt — it is such a critical time to join because of the many growth opportunities available.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

There are always growing pains that can come with rapid business growth and these can come in different forms depending on the stage of a business. In the earlier days at Rokt, we experienced pains with process and tools as we were building things for the first time. One example that stands out is our onboarding and development process. Early on, we did not have this fleshed out and some of our leaders on the customer team needed to take charge in building out a robust plan. We have reworked the plans quite a bit over the years, but we finally have a very consistent management and employee development plan with a career ladder demonstrating skills, behaviors and impact required to continue to progress. We have external learning budgets to help support this and a full four-week onboarding process. This allows us to bring on the right people, ramp quickly and prime them for fast career growth. I believe this is what has led us to have such an amazing tenure on customer success — most of our team members have been with Rokt for over three years, which is unique in the tech world. 

No matter what level of the company you are in, your opinion matters and your ideas are valued.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

Our culture is one of the key reasons I, along with most of my team, have been here for many years. The glue that holds our culture together is being around incredibly smart and innovative individuals, as well as our collaborative, roll-your-sleeves-up style. No matter what level of the company you are in, your opinion matters and your ideas are valued. When there is an issue to solve or a future opportunity to scope out, we pull many ideas together to get to the best solution for both the end customer and the business. I love that there is never one person that is the smartest in the room and that any question is deemed a valuable question. This allows our people to get exposure to bright individuals, be challenged to think deeper or bigger and, in turn, grow faster. This is exactly the type of people we look to bring into our culture — those that will continue to challenge the status quo, push us further and raise the bar. 

 

 

DearDoc coworkers sitting on a couch in the office having a team huddle
DearDoc

 

Joe Brown
CEO • DearDoc

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

We expect to hire about 75 to 100 people this year, with this growth being fueled by the increase in demand for our products. We offer a unique solution for doctors — we are the first and only AI chat product that is directly integrated into doctors’ EMRs. This allows us to help doctors convert more of their website traffic into actual paid appointments.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

I’ve previously been a part of two companies that have grown at a similar rate and one of the biggest challenges that comes with growth at this scale is maintaining a great culture. When you have a lot of new people coming in, the culture can get watered down, so it’s important to have systems in place to maintain what made your company great and avoid culture becoming a messy process when scaling.

To alleviate this, our team has taken great measures to make sure all new and existing team members have gone through each of our core values and have signed our “pledge of greatness,” which is a document highlighting all the values we all share and why they are important to us. On top of that, we give quarterly awards for each of our core values, so the person who demonstrated a specific value the most that quarter will win an award and prize. This keeps the values top of mind and allows future team members to better understand what we stand for.

One of the biggest challenges that comes with growth at this scale is maintaining a great culture.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

Culture is our strongest asset. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific thing that makes DearDoc’s culture great — I think it’s a feeling. It’s the feeling you get when you speak to someone who works at DearDoc. It’s the enthusiasm, the passion for what we do, the love of the problem we’re solving and the team we get to do it with. 

One of our core values is “be there for each other,” and that value is one of our biggest strengths in that we trust each other and we pick each other up when we need it. I’ve heard tons of “we’re a family here” at other companies, but at DearDoc, you just feel it. Things like bi-weekly happy hours, company Hampton summer parties, trips to Vegas, team nights out and top team dinners all make bonding at DearDoc extremely important and a strong part of what makes us great. 

By creating an environment like this, we attract a lot of referrals. About 30 to 40 percent of our team came from an employee referral and that number is consistently going up. If you create a place where people love to work every day, you can significantly increase your odds of finding and attracting great people.

 

 

Victoria Kasumu
Chief People Officer • Maisonette

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

We are in the midst of a high growth period and expect to hire between 50 and 60 new employees before the end of the year. These roles span across all departments with a particular focus on the tech and operations teams. Maisonette is the first baby and kids marketplace to match consumers with a large community of vendors, particularly small and medium businesses, that currently do not have a brand-safe environment at scale to introduce their products to this highly coveted audience. We saw strong growth in 2021 which pushed us to further grow our assortment, invest in new ways to make it even more searchable and shoppable, and get it to our customer in the most efficient way.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

One challenge that can arise during a period of rapid growth at any company is a dilution of company culture — as new talent comes on, it can be hard to stay connected as a team, especially in this remote world! We address this in two important ways. The first is by ensuring any new talent we bring on is additive to the company culture. We reflect our core values through every step of the interview process to ensure a good fit. The other way we address an influx of new talent is by ensuring that existing employees at Maisonette are continuing to be valued and recognized. One of our core values is “family matters” and we really work hard to prioritize our employees’ family life, health and wellness. One example of this is our company-wide duvet days — one day per month we give all of our employees a paid day off to rest and disconnect.

One of the benefits of being a start-up is the ability to be nimble and experiment.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

One of the benefits of being a start-up is the ability to be nimble and experiment. One of our core values is “be the solution” and it really speaks to this start-up mentality of “if it doesn’t exist, I’ll do it myself!” It’s about empowering employees to do impactful work, to be visible and be recognized for that work. As you grow and scale at a company, employees are at risk of feeling like their work isn’t seen or doesn’t matter — it becomes one small piece of a big machine. “Be the solution” is so important because it reminds employees that their work is important and critical to the success of the entire business. This core value is so important to us at Maisonette as it continues to be a north star for employees who feel connected to a larger goal and, more importantly, who feel like valuable contributors to that shared goal.

 

 

Unacast team members
Unacast

 

Dave McCutcheon
Chief Revenue Officer • Unacast

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

Coming off the strongest quarter in our company history, we’re investing significantly in our GTM teams this year, with a plan to more than double from about 20 people across sales, marketing and CS to over 50 by Q3. We’re also expanding our engineering, product and data science teams in Europe.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

Maintaining alignment on core values when you’re rapidly scaling can always be challenging. This has been even more difficult for a lot of teams now that we’re living in a remote-first world. To help with this, we’ve been doing quarterly offsite events with the entire U.S. team that are mostly focused on values and team building. The emphasis is really on getting to know each other in the real world. We’ve found that there is a ton of natural empathy and understanding that develops from that in a way that helps us work better together. You just really can’t get that in Zoom meetings.

The actual working sessions are mostly focused on value workshops or team building and group problem solving, as opposed to technical product updates, skills training or roadmap reviews. We have plenty of time and ability to do those types of updates virtually, so we want to really make the most of our time together, building relationships in person.

We’ve been doing quarterly offsite events with the entire U.S. team that are mostly focused on values and team building.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

For me, our biggest cultural strength is our focus on ownership and personal responsibility. We project this through our first core value, “be your own CEO.” The idea is to really empower people at every level to be independently impactful. The people who do this well have advanced quickly with us which, combined with our growth, is why I’ve had the privilege of highlighting and promoting five people on our U.S. team so far this year. 

The combination of potential for growth within the organization and the ability to actually take ownership have made this a super dynamic and fun team to be a part of.

 

 

Lisa Sholkin
VP of People • Radar

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

We are currently a hybrid workforce with 50 employees across the U.S. and roughly 50 percent of our staff based in the greater New York area. We expect to hire an additional 50 staff before the end of this year across all functions and levels. 

In February 2022, we raised $55 million in a Series C funding round led by Insight Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm based in NYC, with participation from existing investors including Accel, Two Sigma Ventures and Heavybit. This latest funding round brings our company’s total funding to $85.5 million with a $365 million valuation. The new capital will be used to rapidly scale and extend our market lead through expansion of existing and new building blocks for the platform, growth of the Radar team and increased impact in key verticals such as retail, quick-service restaurants, logistics, travel, hospitality and entertainment.

We are thrilled to capitalize on the momentum that we built In 2021, with over 10 thousand developers signed up to build location-based experiences with our platform. The size of our enterprise customer base more than doubled, including our first customers in fleet tracking, delivery, gaming and healthcare.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

We have aimed to be ahead of the curve, making key executive hires that come from tech industry leaders like Google Maps and GitHub. These leaders will be able to rapidly scale their teams and already have a blueprint for what success looks like in rapidly evolving environments. Some key hires include VP of sales, VP of marketing and VP of product. We are continuing to round out this talented group by adding finance and legal senior leaders in the near future.

Additionally, we have invested in critical HR technology ahead of this growth so that we can ensure we have systems and processes that can morph as we scale. We strive to have our employee experience be best-in-class and are confident that we’ve invested in both the people and technology to excel in this dimension. 

It can be challenging in startup environments to maintain a laser focus and not get distracted by competing priorities.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

Our greatest strengths are our continued focus on our customers and our expectation of excellence in all facets, whether that is expanding into new industry verticals, forming new partnerships that are critical to our mutual revenue generation or adding new product features to better serve our clients’ needs. As a result, we’re poised to power best-in-class location-based experiences across every digital product and service. We do all of this with a privacy-first approach and do not sell or share data with any third parties.

Due to our clearly outlined mission and goals, all of our new hires joining us have a clear understanding from day one of how to prioritize their time and which KPIs are critical for success both for them professionally and for our end users. It can be challenging in startup environments to maintain a laser focus and not get distracted by competing priorities. We have managed to avoid some of this chaos because of the vision set by our founders and having a committed employee base that wants to continue to excel in their own career growth, while also solving our customers’ biggest challenges.

 

 

Swimm team members

 

Keren Halperin
VP People • Swimm

 

Tell us a bit about the growth your company is currently experiencing. How many people do you expect to hire in the coming months? 

Our team at Swimm is growing like crazy. In fact, over the last year we’ve gone from 14 employees to 40 and we’re expecting to grow by another 50 percent by the end of Q2. We’re hiring in all departments, thanks to the rapid growth of the business overall.

 

What’s one step you or your company has taken to avoid or address some of the challenges that typically come with a period of rapid growth?

It all comes back to hiring the right people — people you trust, who can overcome obstacles and uncertainty rather than be intimidated by them. Swimm has been hiring employees who are builders and get excited by being part of a startup, as well as helping engineering teams sync with code by integrating continuous documentation into the development workflow. 

One of the ways we’ve approached this period of rapid growth is by instituting new processes for onboarding new employees to set them up for success. We have also been working hard to create a company culture that is hardworking, transparent and fun. Our dev teams have daily syncs and work in two week sprints. We have regular Swimm company updates and happy hours. We have a really amazing vibe here at Swimm and you can feel it. The company is growing rapidly and strongly, but even though we’re experiencing fast growth, the team still feels as if we’re a much smaller group.

The company is growing rapidly and strongly, but even though we’re experiencing fast growth, the team still feels as if we’re a much smaller group.”

 

What would you consider to be your company culture’s greatest strength? How has this aspect of your culture bolstered your team as the headcount has grown?

Our biggest strength is transparency. Oren Toledano, Swimm’s co-founder and CEO, shares updates of board meetings with the entire senior management team. It really feels like we’re moving and working toward our collective Swimm goals in sync — with trust and support as the backbone of everything we do.

 

 

responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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