In the last post we gave you more information than you probably wanted about the team behind Sealed.
Today, we’re going to talk about Sealed’s mission and culture, two concepts that are intertwined.
Here at Sealed, we believe first and foremost in the mission of scaling energy efficiency. Nobody we work with wavers from the belief that energy efficiency can and will scale to help meet our society’s intertwined environmental and economic challenges. And they are all frustrated as hell that the no-brainer of energy efficiency remains a small market.
It is Sealed’s strongly held belief that mission-driven organizations outperform similar organizations without a positive, defining mission. On the other hand, however, organizations that aim to generate significant returns from invested capital outperform similar organizations that rely on non-profit donations.
By combining a mission-driven culture with a strong profit motive, Sealed will scale energy efficiency by working hard in open collaboration with employees, partners and investors.
This is an ethos that is the hallmark of almost all successful start-up companies. What makes cleantech companies like Sealed special is the ability to do this beyond the initial excitement of high-growth. And while Sealed has not yet reached this phase yet, it is important to codify these core company tenets at an early company age, as growth tends to amplify pre-existing tendencies.
With Sealed’s mission as its core cultural guide, there are three building blocks that will enable Sealed to succeed and grow. These are listening, analysis and transparency.
Sealed believes and practices Lean Start-Up practices as best we can. First and foremost among this is good customer development, which is generally defined as listening closely to your actual and prospective customers.
Listening to customers means going beyond surface answers and speculation. It means acting like a five year old and asking “why” and “what if” until you get the heart of the matter. Good listening is not in opposition to quantitative analysis (we’ll talk about that next), but rather provides the context to ask the right questions that can then be quantified.
And while listening in the context of customer development is now considered a best practice of good start-ups, Sealed believes this principle should apply to all other partners in the company eco-system, including contractor partners and investors. Only by understanding what each stakeholder will and will not buy into can Sealed truly scale.
Sealed believes listening is better than talking (not always easy), and is incorporating tools like Uberconference where you can track the amount of time you versus others talk.
Listening is always the first step, but good quantitative analysis must confirm any hypothesis gleaned talking to customers or others.
Analysis means defining a test that can be proved or disproved with some level of statistical significance. Nothing is “real” until it passes the same level of rigor as a peer-reviewed science paper.
To meet this level of rigor, however, you need a lot of data. Sealed loves data (the more the better). We also understand you can’t always get the data you want, however, and therefore are patient in the acquisition of data to demonstrate real results.
Perhaps the most difficult and controversial cultural value is transparency. While most companies give at least lip-service to transparency, many either won’t or can’t be truly transparent.
Sealed believes true transparency comes the following principles:
- Nobody is going to steal your stupid idea
- The benefits of getting feedback far outweighs any costs of others copying
- You have to actively promote transparency
The only place this line is drawn is at personal information, which is sacrosanct and is never shared without permission.
To promote internal transparency, Sealed uses Google Docs, Asana and Streak, among other tools. This blog, Twitter and Facebook are some initial tools to promote external transparency, but many more will be built natively as Sealed grows.
Have any ideas on improving Sealed’s culture? Let us know!