End of September, Om Malik asked me to share Sphere’s experiences (on his new, very popular blog Web Worker Daily) of what it’s like to build a virtual company. Everyone of our key team members are living in different areas – the four founders are based in San Francisco, Seattle & Denver. We have team members living in Vancouver, Portland, Phoenix, Denver, San Francisco, New York, and Boston. Our Advisors are based in San Francisco, Connecticut, New York, Boston and Atlanta. In the post, we talked about the tools we use to keep everyone on the same page, working toward the same goals.
We also talked a little bit about the challenge creating a culture that serves as a foundation for success. The culture piece is a little less straightforward. In fact, I’ve never met five of our key team members. Here are a few obvious things we do to develop a feel for each other:
- we make sure we talk multiple times each day, EVERYDAY
- we do a group call every Tuesday (Tech team) and Friday (Business Team)
- we engage people on a series of projects before signing them on as team members
- the founders meet physically at least once a quarter
We’re also trying a few new things. We’re opening our internal blog up to our Advisors and Investors who have a vested interest in Sphere – we hope this will foster a stronger bond between our team and the people most supportive in helping us pursue our dream. Another example, last month we had a pizza party – the idea was that each team member would receive a pizza at their homes for a group call and mini celebration of our accomplishments to date – it kinda worked and kinda didn’t. Everyone was excited about it but it was logistically a bit hard to pull off. A couple of our team members did get their pizza (see below photo from our SysAdmin Mike) while the rest of us were jealous to hear their greasy hands on their keyboards. I think we’ll try it again as everyone liked the idea.
If you’re building a virtual company, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what does/ doesn’t work in your virtual environment.