Great things happen when you bring your team together

The making of Jampper Week

Every year, just before the Holidays, Jamppers all around the world pack their bags and fly from San Francisco, Singapore, Berlin, London, Sao Paulo and Cape Town all the way down to Buenos Aires, Argentina for Jampper Week.

During Jampper Week, we bring the whole company together under one roof to share 5 days of meetings between teams, technical workshops, our end of the year All-Hands that culminate in a 24 hour event in a remote location.

This year, we called it Jampp Camp and we drove 250 miles to Tandil, a beautiful town outside of Buenos Aires. This is already a Jampp tradition, in the past years we called it Jampper Games and hosted it on an island in the Paraná Delta (check 2014, 2015 and 2016).

Building a global company is hard.

The difference in cultures, languages and timezones mean that fostering a company culture that is truly shared among everybody is challenging.

Jampper Week is our way of minimizing those differences and finding common ground. Reminding everybody, that we share a common purpose and a common set of values. Co-workers don’t need to be friends to do their jobs, but everything we do seems to be so much better when they do become friends ☺️.

The day before going off to Jampp Camp, we do our Q4 All Hands meeting.

The planning and execution of Jampper Week is one of the most fun projects we get to participate in every year as founders.

We have been working on these for nearly 15 years (at Jampp for about 4 years but the tradition started at Livra, our first startup, 15 years ago). We enjoy doing these so much that there’s a running joke in the company about how we may one day pivot to offer CAAS (Culture as a service) to other companies.

Martin and I, solving our differences in the ring, in one of the original Livra Games in 2008.

We want to share some of the things we pay close attention to that make Jampper Week special as it might be helpful to other startups.

A welcoming experience for those who come from far

We want to stay connected as we grow as a company.

As we fly Jamppers from all over the world, we go out of our way to make the visit of our global Jamppers unforgettable, most arrive on the Sunday before Jampper Week so we organize a welcome drinks/dinner with some of their local team mates. The idea is to “acclimatize” everybody, “break the ice” with the locals and set the stage for a great week.

Plan in advance and DON’T outsource it

Make your company culture a visible priority.

If you just hire a company to organize everything, you are not getting it. If you are the founders/CEO or part of the management team you have to be hands-on and help in the planning and executing of the event. This will be one of the main culture building events, you can’t outsource that.

Jampper week planning starts about 6 months before, we set up a Squad (this is another Jampp tradition: to build teams for a specific purpose that dissolve after we reach a goal. It’s similar to the DRI idea but with teams) of 6 people to help (someone is in charge of “Video and Art”, someone else of “Venue and Activities”, etc) and have regular weekly meetings to check on the progress.

The planning, budgeting and organization has to be taken seriously and followed up closely like any other project that is critical to the company. Being part of the squad should be seen as an honor, not a burden.

Make it Memorable

We put a lot of effort into picking the right place for the event. We don’t want to just “rent a venue, make a party” and that’s it.

We want everybody to have a unique experience that they remember for a long time. If it feels like “a corporate party” (or even our past years’ events), we are doing it wrong. In choosing a place, we make sure to choose a hotel that we can fill up ourselves (it’s a different experience if random people are around) and negotiate the exclusivity for those 24 hours. It has to be outside the city and near “something” that defines the main activity (Near a river? Raft building competition. Near a hill? Hike!)

Make it competitive just as an excuse to help interaction

We build teams to foster a friendly competition.

Each team has a captain that organizes the teams, picks who will participate in each activity and competition and helps her/his team to choose a name and slogan. The competition normally starts early in the week with teams playing pranks on each other in the office…

Trolling Masterclass: Red team came early and changed all the lights in the office the day before Jampp Camp.

This year we had a major treasure hunt but other year’s activities included “building a raft and then race on it”, shoot a “mannequin challenge” video of one of our company values (here the winning one) and even bubble football.

Bubble Soccer in Jampper Games 2015, a great way to improve our bounceback-ability skills.

Our Core Values are always our theme

Culture is built by upholding to our core values in everything we do.

We always choose one of our core values as the central theme of the event. Whichever is the most relevant to the moment the company is going through.

In a year when we beat all expectations, the event was around “We don’t rest on our laurels”, another time was about “We think big and long term”.

This year, which was filled with changes and new challenges (we went through a major product shift), we went back to basics and our theme was based on our “We are all Entrepreneurs” value combined with the “climbing the mountain” metaphor (Did you know that successfully climbing Mount Everest is nearly three times more likely than launching a startup that’s still active a handful of years after it starts?).

We always give out a program that includes the schedule, a map of the venue and a directory of all Jamppers.

We celebrate the people that make Jampp special

One of the main features of the event is the award ceremony.

Every year, a few weeks before the event, we hold an election among our leaders (and former award winners) to select the Jampper that represented throughout the year the most each of our core values (We are All Entrepreneurs, No Egos, Delight in Every Interaction, We Love What We Do, Think Big and Long Term, We don’t rest on our Laurels) as well as the person that embodied the most all the values combined (we call her/him “Jamppion of the Year”).

The ceremony (and the actual awards) are quite goofy but we really mean to celebrate the people that win. The atmosphere is great (30–45 min of an open bar just before doesn’t hurt 😉) and the crowd goes crazy when we announce the winners.

We also give an award to the best “Welcome GIF” of the year (yet another Jampp tradition, every time someone new joins the company a team of Jamppers prepare an animated GIF to go in the e-mail), this was last year’s winner…

And leave some time for Jamppers to share their passions, in the last few years we’ve had a number of hilarious videos (the jokes are too internal to share!) prepared by the team and every year we have a Jampper band playing during the party…

Daft Punk & Justice are shitting their pants.

We want to delight in every interaction

But the thing that really sets Jampp Camp apart is how much time and effort we put in the details. Here are just a few things we do…

EVERY Jampper gets a small custom gift (that the founders personally choose) with their swag pack. The gift is usually a small quirky “stocking filler” related to the Jampper’s personality or hobbies.

You like both pizza AND motorbikes? We’ve got something for you.

Every year, with the help of our global Jamppers, we try to incorporate a quirky party accessory that you haven’t seen before.

This year, these coloured lights made quite an impact!

And even the cocktail menu is designed specially for the event with Jampp/Mobile Marketing related drinks, I had one too many Gin & Real Time Tonics…

Do your own Jampp Camp

If you plan to organize an event like this at your startups, here are a few takeaways:

  • Involve your team in the planning, organizing and execution.
  • Take people outside the city, being physically far from the office helps people truly disconnect and traveling together is part of the shared experience.
  • Give the event a theme and a purpose related to your core values and goals. The typical corporate event (“Let’s rent a place and make a party”,) won’t work.
  • Build teams and captains to foster bonding, teamwork and healthy competition.
  • Create a ritual that becomes a company tradition and can be celebrated every year.
  • Plan meetings and interactions as much as you can, but also leave spare time for spontaneous activities.
  • Encourage people to show and share their talents and passions with the rest of team.

There are many other things that make Jampp Camp special but hopefully you got a general idea of what happens behind the scenes of Jampp Camp through this post.

Organizing events that show your team how much you care about them and how important your company values are will be a rewarding, meaningful project for you as founders and an unforgettable experience for your people.

Here’s a video of Jampp Camp, it personally give us goosebumps every time I see it…

You can also see a long version here.

Jampp has a lot of unique ways of doing things and our culture and events are a reflection of that.

Do you share these values? We are looking for amazing people to join the team.

This post was written by Jampp’s Founders: Martin Añazco & Diego Meller