I Wasn’t Expecting This Response When I Said We Were “Scrappy”
When I presented the company’s culture credo two weeks ago, there was one word that confused all the Brits: scrappy.
According to our British staff, scrappy means being disorderly. If someone gets into a fight, it is a “scrap.” Obviously this wasn’t the connotation I was going for… so what did I mean by scrappy?
In the early days, we ran IT Central Station on a shoestring. After angel financing, we stayed lean and we grew organically. For the first 4 years, we worked from home or from a co-working space. We did guerilla marketing. We hired people who were willing to jump aboard with slim salaries because they believed in what we were doing. As a team, we worked hard and we were scrappy.
By 2016, it was time to shift gears. We had a great customer list and a fast-growing site, so we needed to invest more. We leased our very own office space — complete with the stereotypical startup yogurt fridge. Yet even this decision was scrappy.
We waited 3 years of generating revenue until we got our own office.
In our company, scrappiness is self-perpetuating. When you’re out in our parking lot, you won’t see any sports cars. While we pay market-rate tech salaries, most of our employees are naturally frugal. Their individual habits form a lean company culture, allowing us to focus on what really matters to customers and tech buyers.
Yet when it is game-time, we don’t hesitate to tap into the company’s resources. We went big with a 30x40 booth at Oracle OpenWorld last year, which — to put it into context — was even larger than SAP’s booth. Taking a risk paid off.
What does scrappy mean? Being scrappy is maintaining penny-pinching resourcefulness, while also having the courage to go big.