BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR can feel lonely at times. That’s why shortly after the idea of BlaBlaCar was born, Fred Mazzella started talking about it to anyone and everyone who would listen. He started attending regular entrepreneurial meet-ups in Paris where he would bounce his ideas off others and receive advice and inspiration. Fred then used BlaBlaCar in all classes throughout his MBA programme at INSEAD Business School to further develop the strategy.
By sharing and learning with others, he was able to gain time and implement a lot of good practices. Upon meeting co-founders Francis Nappez and Nicolas Brusson, during one of the entrepreneurial meet-ups and at INSEAD respectively, he realised that each of them brought complementary skills to the table. It felt absolutely right to share the direction of the company with them. Sharing and learning together would make them a stronger team.
When BlaBlaCar started embarking on a journey of fast growth, the founders were conscious of encouraging a collaborative culture of sharing and set out to build an environment that allowed for continuous learning. At BlaBlaCar, the “Share More. Learn More” value encourages all employees to share as much knowledge as they can through a wide variety of tools and activities.
Transparency benefits everyone
In the early days when BlaBlaCar had just a handful of employees, it was easy to meet with everyone on a daily basis. Now with over 550 employees spread out internationally over several offices, it gets more difficult. BlaBlaCar works hard to implement transparency in the workplace and believes in a culture of sharing that benefits everyone. The founders are big fans of benchmarking good ideas to avoid re-inventing the wheel. If they find out that a company is doing some form of internal process, and they like the sound of it, they’ll implement it immediately.
BlaBlaTalk, the weekly talk, is a prime example of this. After Fred heard about the idea through a fellow entrepreneur friend, the concept was put in place the following week when there were just 15 employees. It’s been part of the BlaBlaCar culture ever since and is a perfect example of how something is scalable. With all employees in attendance (either physically or through an online broadcast), a different team takes the spotlight each week and gives an update on its work, organisational structure, what’s happening and its plans for the next weeks. With their presentations peppered with gifs and animations, they talk about success as well as things that failed. Based on the implicit assumption that this pool of talented people always try their best then if and when they fail, everyone can learn something from it. As the presentation comes to a close, questions come from everyone and everywhere, including the local teams around the globe who are watching the live broadcast from their offices.
Then there’s International Week. Every six weeks, all local country managers come to Paris for a week to discuss plans and share best practices. Strongly pushed by Nicolas in order to synchronise all international action, it keeps the transparency alive between country teams and the centralised teams. Furthermore, an initiative called BlaBlaSwap gives team members the opportunity to spend a week working in one of the many international offices from Sao Paulo to Moscow.
Sharing comes in all forms
A favourite moment for all employees is the BlaBlaBreak, an annual 3-day trip where everyone from BlaBlaCar gets together and celebrates their collective energy. In 2016, everyone met in the south of France where they spent an unforgettable weekend in the sun taking part in sport activities and hosting their very own talent show, the BlaBlaShow. A true experience which brought people together, it highlights the importance of team building in an ever evolving workplace.
BlaBlaBreakfast takes place once a week and brings together all employees from all different teams. This is followed by a live Tech Demo in the afternoon, where all new product features are presented to everyone. There’s also BlaBlaFaces, a web app that helps you learn all the names of everyone in the company. There’s BlaBlaLunch, an app which encourages networking between colleagues by organising random lunches with people from various teams. There’s even a section on the internal blog named BlaBlaWords, which explains all of BlaBlaCar’s acronyms and is continuously updated as new ones appear.
What other internal tools do we use to keep people sharing and learning? Read here.