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Highlights From Our Recent People and Talent Summit

June 12, 2018
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Since 2013, Bowery Capital has hosted a quarterly summit as part of “The Bowery Capital Quarterly Leadership Series”, which focuses on generating opportunities and insights for thought-leaders at early-stage companies. Structured as a half day seminar that includes keynote speakers, tactical chats, and panel discussions, the event brings together talented entrepreneurs from across the startup ecosystem looking to share advice and opinions on a diverse set of topics. This quarter, during our first-ever People and Talent Summit, 100+ attendees gathered to discuss the current challenges in HR management and talent coordination facing early-stage companies. Outlined below are some of the key takeaways from our recent People and Talent Summit:

1. Values Should Be Valued Early On. Nikki Goldman, Head of People at WayUp and Founder at I/O Coaching, discussed the importance of building values into a company’s bedrock at an early stage. Under today’s hyper-growth mentality, values often can be overlooked. There is much focus on what work is being done, and less on why or how it is actually being accomplished. As Nikki shared, “Values are your how.” If your aim is to build a lasting culture, then your best toolkit is your value system. In a panel with our own Director of Talent, Alex Adamson, Kirsten Behncke Colyer, VP of Talent and People at Justworks, Jordan Wan, CEO and Founder at CloserIQ, and John-Paul Sukkar, Senior Director of People at Rent the Runway, sat down to share thoughts on maintaining culture while in the throes of scaling. The group stressed that culture should be unique by design, not modular. Furthermore, for a culture to work, it needs to be functional. The bottom line? Cultural success does not come without a fair share of tough decisions along the way.

2. Structured Recruiting Is A Relationship Booster And Bias Deterrent. Building a high-performing team and business requires more than just sheer talent on the part of your hires. That is only half the battle. Optimal performance requires exceptional hiring strategies, capable of sifting out the candidate best fit for your company and the role itself. As Jacqui Maguire, Director of Talent Acquisition at Greenhouse, discussed with attendees, structured hiring processes improve the relationship between hiring manager and recruiter, and deter much of the inherent biases built into a traditional interview process. In a later conversation, Stephanie Mardell, VP of People at Button, expanded on this idea and discussed some of the ways early-stage startups can think about overcoming a lack of diversity in the workplace. Starting with your “gatekeepers” — the hiring managers — is an important first step in solidifying company-wide awareness and streamlined communication.

3. Data As An Input Fuels Successful Brand Management. “Garbage in, garbage out.” This was the expression used by John Erban, VP of People at Axiom, to describe his opinion on data. He, alongside Jennifer Williams, COO at Drive Change, Inc., Ilya Usorov, Co-Founder at day100, and our own Andrew Oddo, Director of Growth at Bowery Capital, as moderator, provided insight on key distinctions between data gathering and data management. Issues surrounding employee privacy concerns were examined, along with solutions for building trust in employer data usage. The group highlighted how employee data assists in making better internal decisions related to employee engagement and beyond. As Toni Thompson, VP of People and Talent for The Muse, described in her fireside chat with our own Alex Adamson, brand management is a crucial component to a company’s long-term story. Consistent messaging, ensured through proper data accumulation and management, is one of the best ways for companies to create a compelling story, capable of attracting and retaining top talent.

Finding the right people is a critical component to early-stage success. Paired with strategies for overcoming the talent challenge laid out at our first People and Talent Summit, early-stage businesses are well on their way to a productive future.

If you liked “Highlights From Our Recent People and Talent Summit” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog. Special thanks to Jackson Feder for his contribution and work on this post.

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