Investing in Culture as a Competitive Advantage

I started Demandbase nearly 8 years ago to transform the way businesses market and sell to other businesses. While the mission to change a $35 billion industry sounds simple in a sentence that everyone can remember on an elevator, I knew the complexity of our ecosystem, financial risks and the dependence on hiring the best and brightest in a very competitive environment would pose the greatest barriers. Independent of the industry, any business leader will tell you, or should tell you, that the secret to success is great people and a culture that allows them to thrive and deliver on a unified vision and set of core values.

My personal passion is innovation. I am a technologist at heart and get excited about understanding customer and industry challenges that are massive in scope. In fact, the innovation process with great product managers and engineers to solve these challenges is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, although I get to do it less as we scale the company beyond 200 employees. What keeps me more engaged today is investing in great people that share similar values and a vision for making a difference. Having started several companies, I know the long-term competitive advantage of any company is shaped by a high-quality functioning team and not a one-trick product pony that so many businesses rise and fall from in a matter of months or a couple years.

Demandbase has grown nearly 10x over the last few years, and we don’t even sell that one-trick pony anymore. The key to our continued success has been a mission we put in place early on to become world-class at hiring and retaining the best talent wherever we operated. The foundation of this effort was focusing the entire company (less than 30 people at the time) on 4 core values that we could use to attract and filter the right type of people. Furthermore, it was even more important to reward and promote these people based on how they exemplified these values for the years to come. At Demandbase these values include:

i) Innovation – thinking outside the box to solve customer, partner and Demandbase challenges in a way more effective than in the past.

ii) Customer success – delivering measurable results to every customer that are meaningful to their business, and most importantly, exceed their expectations.

iii) People and community – Trusting and respecting fellow co-workers, customers, partners and the worldwide community that allows us this opportunity.

iv) Execution – focusing on key tasks and strategies while taking accountability along the way. Do what you say you are going to do and more.

Today is a very proud moment in Demandbase’s history. We have been named one of the Top 10 Best Places in the U.S. to Work in 2016 out of millions of businesses with less than 1,000 employees by Glassdoor. But this recognition is not only important to the candidates seeking jobs at our company, it is valued by every employee, investor and I suspect every customer, that we are creating an environment to educate and reward all employees based on a common set of enduring values.

Achieving this recognition required investment and commitment.  Superior benefits, great compensation and the fun stuff are easy things to offer to employees.  What I believe is ten times more valuable, however, is a very transparent, collaborative and ego-less culture that allows people to learn and be recognized for their efforts. We constantly seek out ways to give every employee a voice, whether it is through confidential surveys or our weekly Town Hall meetings, which provide an open forum for sharing news and Q&A across all of our locations. I have also found it critical to provide an environment for people to feel like they are winning by giving back to the community.  In the past couple of years, Demandbase employees have had a meaningful impact on Girls Rising, Bowery Mission for Women in New York City, Adopt-a-Family, GLIDE and Stop-Hunger-Now, where employees personally packed 20,000 meals for people in developing countries.  In fact, we had nearly a thousand people at our annual customer summit participate in packing meals, which led to hundreds of thousands of meals.  A real difference for the children and families in developing countries and a long-lasting gratification for our employees and entire ecosystem!

As we close out 2015 as a record year with incredible growth, new offices, additional funding, 100 new people and an incredible trajectory ahead of us, I would like to thank all Demandbase employees and their friends and families for their commitment to our vision.  Recognition by Glassdoor as a Top 10 Best Place to Work is yet another valuable honor that we are all proud of on our journey to making our customers, industry and community more successful.

See our team in action!