From 5 to 100
How to Grow a Company without Losing its Culture
In the past three years, Kolibri Games has grown from five friends in a student flat to a full-fledged mobile games studio with a team of over 100 and two successful games with over 100 million global downloads. Our HR Lead Richard explains how we sustained such rapid growth without sacrificing our values or our company culture.
Prepare for take-off
When we moved to Berlin in January 2018, we were only a little more than 30 people. In just over a year, we have tripled in size, to over 100 Kolibris. Over time, like any other fast-growing company, we had to establish and refine management structures. We had to specify different roles for our programmers, artists, community managers and game designers. When we started developing our second game, Idle Factory Tycoon, things became even more complicated: we had to maintain and improve two games with two independently operating teams.
Naturally, our rapid growth brought along all kinds of challenges referred to as “growing pains”. Every company experiences them while scaling up, and they can be deadly if ignored or treated carelessly. Over time, and in dealing with these challenges, we have learned how to treat these pains, and have discovered ways to maintain our culture and values, even in times of rapid growth.
Finding the right talent
Proper recruiting helps us to minimize our growing pains and achieve sustainable growth.
In Idle Factory Tycoon, it only takes a single tap to add another worker to the factory floor. In reality, our hiring process is based on a careful examination of skill and talent, and continuous interaction with other team members.
A vital part of our recruitment process is the Kolibri Games Trial Days. Two onsite trial days during which we determine every candidate’s team fit and assess their skill level. While flying everyone over to Berlin is quite an investment, these two days represent a great opportunity for candidates to find out whether Kolibri Games is the right place for them. At the same time, they are a great chance for us to get to know applicants better in person and find out how they interact and work in a team environment or even under stress or pressure.
(Click here if you want to know more about the Kolibri Games Trial Days)
That being said, we do not only attribute high importance to expertise, but also to a candidate’s potential, and passion to keep learning. Kolibri Games continues to grow, adapt and learn from new challenges — and we want our team to do the same.
Only by carefully selecting who we welcome on board can we ensure to not drift off course along the way. It might cost us a lot of time and money, but it’s an investment worth making.
We have picked our winning team, now we need to make sure it remains healthy. In addition to having a proper recruiting process, there are many ways to ensure that your company can grow sustainably.
At Kolibri Games, we work in a silent office, fully focused, for eight hours a day. The rest of the day is reserved for leisure. We don’t crunch and no one works on the weekend. We all work in one big room, from intern to CEO — without barriers that could separate us into different groups. We use internal chats, our lobby, and meeting rooms for communication. If I need to brainstorm with a colleague, instead of starting a discussion in the office that would disturb others, I shoot them a message and reserve a room for us.
(Want to know more about our silent office, the Mainland? Click here)
Kolibri Games is structured much like a lot of mobile game companies: we have one dedicated team for each of our games, and other departments that serve the entire company, like Community Management or Marketing.
We knew that as soon as we split up teams to focus on different projects, we were running the risk of creating isolated bubbles: After a while, people start optimizing processes to meet their own goals and lose sight of the bigger picture. Different teams can even start viewing each other as competition, which is incredibly harmful.
We prevent these bubbles from forming, or burst them early on!
At work, we make sure that teams continue to exchange ideas, collaborate and share solutions they have found. We continuously hold joint events, presentations and meetings that involve all of our employees, and allow them to share what they are working on. Outside of work, we organize parties, dinners, sports and other events — even holidays with the entire team -to ensure that Kolibris are not just a bunch of people working for the same company, but a big group of friends.
Reaching goals the right way
We want to be the best in our genre and we want idle games to be as big as Match 3. What we don’t want, is to lose track of who we are and what got us here, in trying to reach our goals as quickly as possible.
We want to build an extensive portfolio of idle games, but in a sustainable way.
Instead of carelessly fuelling rapid growth and riding on the current wave of success with dollar signs in our eyes, we are building a company that can withstand whatever challenge comes our way, and will be around for a lot more time — we owe that to our team and to our players.
We will keep on expanding and start forming a new team for our third game next year, and while finding the right people to add to your team sometimes feels like looking for the needle in a haystack, patience pays off! Only by growing sustainably can we ensure that our growth will not compromise our values and our culture.
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