By Prakash Nanduri
As our world experiences massive transformation, it’s easy to get caught up in the buzz about AI, autonomous vehicles, robots and drones. But amid all the noise, it’s worth remembering that one of the core aspects of company success is its people and thriving values-driven culture.
We don’t hesitate to say: It’s our values that have led Paxata to make the Best Places to Work list of the San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal – for the fifth year in a row. In the 2017 Bay Area Best Places To Work list, we rank #6 among small companies.
As CEO and co-founder, I’m especially proud because the rankings are determined by what employees themselves report in an anonymous survey. It’s also heartening to know we’ve kept that ranking as we’ve grown from about 20 to nearly 100 people today. We have indeed done something special.
Being an analytics guy myself, I always want to know ‘why is that’? I believe it’s because during these years of growth, we have always maintained a values-based focus.
We describe values as a set of principles or guardrails that a company chooses to abide by so that when we are devoid of all rational choices, we can leverage these to guide us. Of course, countless daily decisions made at a company center around information, resources, impact, and rational choice. But there are other times when all the rational decisions, information and analyses in the world will not suffice. You have to make a judgment call. This is when your moral compass, your values-based focus, comes into play.
Five years ago, when we were a motley group of 12, we understood this. And in typical startup fashion, we headed out for an “offsite” to our favorite watering hole and discussed what we were all about. We came up with six values that still define us today.
- Gaiety & mirth
Let’s be clear: Success is not about activity. It is about quantifiable outcomes. Many times, people tend to mistake activity with results. At Paxata last year, we had over 300 percent growth in bookings with Fortune 1,000 customers. Our average selling price is well into the six figures. We pride ourselves on having raised the least amount of funding within our peer group while having delivered significantly higher bookings. We’re also proud that in The Forrester Wave™: Data Preparation Tools, Q1 2017, Paxata earned the highest possible scores in 14 out of 15 criteria within the Current Offering Category. Additionally, based on customer references, Paxata received the highest possible scores in usability for business analyst, effectiveness and time to value, and vendor relationship subcriteria.
What are you trying to do as a company? The mission of Paxata is vast – to help establish a world where data is turned into information at the speed of thought. To us, being ‘epic’ in our purpose is about giving the “150 percent” so we cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s. We pay attention to the details. Everything we do has an impact to our business and every one of our jobs is important.
Paxata’s culture can be very blunt but honesty is what drives us forward. We share at a very detailed level what’s going on in our company with both the public and our employees. We do Town Hall meetings with everyone inside the company every two weeks and share, for example, where we’re at in the business with respect to our operating plan, how many people we’re going to hire, and the shape of our finances.
It’s the responsibility of leaders more than anyone to live the company values and connect authentically with the rest of the team. Say what you do and do what you say. Do not whitewash things; be on guard against being hypocritical. And, when we fail, we want an environment when anyone in the company can point it out and correct us.
If you want a job, do not come to Paxata. If you’re passionate about transforming the lives of business analysts and creating a whole new industry, then this is the place for you. I’m always inspired by a colleague, Mike White, who’s a former business analyst himself. He fell so in love with our product that he decided to join us. When he’s in front of customers, he is truly authentic because he has lived the pain of a business analyst. His passion is infectious.
Gaiety & mirth
While we’re very serious about our mission, we at Paxata keep it light and do not take ourselves too seriously. I am often the recipient of jokes in our jovial environment. One of the guys who makes fun of me the most is a co-founder. Says Nenshad Bardoliwalla, “When I ask Prakash to say a few words about our accomplishments, I’m having to cut him off after half an hour.” This creates a wonderful atmosphere. And it makes me, as the CEO, and the entire leadership team more approachable.
Now, with a bit of a track record behind us, we feel having a values-driven culture is the most authentic and perhaps fastest way to success. Because when you take care of your people, they will take care of your customers.
How do values endure? Being a techie, I of course want to know how we can scale these values. What we’ve learned is this: It can’t be top down. A hierarchy should be saved for decision making purposes only and NOT for driving values. What we will never forget is: Only when values are internalized by the team will you have champions who live and communicate them as the company grows. This is the only way you can scale.
We’d love to hear from anyone who’s interested in a career at Paxata. Check out our Careers page here on our website to view the opportunities.
- On April 20, 2017