This past year, I had the opportunity to be selected as a Mayfield Fellow. For some more context, Mayfield Fellows is a selective undergraduate leadership and entrepreneurship program at Stanford which has a 25+ year history. This year, the program has 11 students selected from an applicant pool of over 150 students. Alumni have gone on to found companies like Instagram and Gusto or are leaders of major divisions in companies like Salesforce and Cisco.
A lot of the program is focused on ethics and the importance of a positive company culture. We even had Josh Reeves give an in depth analysis of how he has built the environment at Gusto. In almost every session, I can’t help but think of EngFlow. That’s why I’m here writing this blog. Let me start by answering the first question everyone asks me — how did you find EngFlow?
In the fall of 2020, like many other college students, I didn’t want to take online classes. So I went on the Stanford Alumni website to find a job opportunity. The first internship I saw was EngFlow (probably because Ulf’s last name is Adams). It has been more than two years now and I’m still at the company. I’ve been given unparalleled opportunities to take ownership of both technical and nontechnical work. More importantly though, I genuinely believe the company’s culture is as close to perfect as it gets.
When I first joined EngFlow, there were only 4 other employees. For many companies the priorities are as follows: get customers, make money, then think about values. Yet, company culture and ethics has been at the forefront of EngFlow’s priorities from the start.
On some level, EngFlow is all about happiness — happy team, happy customers, and more happy customers (in that order). I’ve experienced this from the beginning. Even as an intern I was given full control over my work. I had the agency to work on a diverse array of projects that developed different skills.. Furthermore, beyond my own skill set, there were no limits to what I could work on. I aligned my interests in machine learning with EngFlow and created an algorithm working to predict Bazel build times. When I expressed that I could help with the company’s pitch to investors and accelerators, Helen and Ulf let me take full ownership of creating and delivering the company pitch. In the end, as a 19 year old, I pitched EngFlow to an accelerator.
This core value of a happy team is what drives the company culture. If everyone loves what they’re doing, naturally they will do everything to the best of their abilities. Moreover, they’ll instinctively want to improve their work. As a result, the customers, ranging from Snap to Canva, will receive a reliable, constantly improving product. They’ll also have a responsive, driven team to work with.
A happy culture is also contagious. From tech standups to one-on-ones, meetings at EngFlow are filled with jokes, laughter, and of course intense problem solving. Even calls where it becomes clear a trial isn’t going well aren’t too melancholy. Amongst the reflections on potential improvements, there is also acknowledgement that we worked our hardest.
From my perspective, Silicon Valley is currently going through a reckoning. From Theranos to WeWork to Rothenberg Ventures, every other hot startup is being revealed as a facade. In a sea of ethical questionability, EngFlow is a breath of fresh, exciting air. It is a company that genuinely cares about building something new and exciting with a team of happy people.