Not long ago, a prospect was kind enough to share their thought process where they evaluated us against a competitor. One thing that stood out to me was an email chain where a consultant they employ positioned our competitor as a large, established enterprise and us as “a startup with a stupid rap video.”
The not-so-subtle subtext of the consultant’s email was that their client shouldn’t feel comfortable relying on a bunch of jokers like us. It’s a fair point. We are a (5 year old) startup. We have a rap video. Guilty as charged.
Why We Made a Stupid Rap Video
When we posted the rap video, it wasn’t a crazy viral success. It did, however, get thousands of views. It also generated a bunch of leads, one of which converted into our biggest customer up that point. In 2009, that was a very big deal for us.
Part of the reason we made the video was to get in front of potential customers, but there is more to it than that. Bob and I wanted to start a company that was true to who we are. And we are dorky rap fans who like making references to startup terms while researching the marketing tactics of shady online dating companies.
We’ve tried to bake that honesty and quirkiness into our culture as our team has grown.
Building a Culture of Eclectics
The rap video was released in May of 2009. In the four and half years since then, I’d like to think that the 45 people who have joined us have only added ammunition for people who want to dismiss us for not being a big-respectable-faceless-megacorp.
Here is a sampling:
- Chris modified our office Keurig to auto-refill its water reservoir with (unused) spare parts from a toilet.
- Shaun is in Google Maps streetview and once ate a raw onion to raise money for charity.
- Austin has played the ukulele on the streets of Baltimore, New York City, and Buenos Aires.
- Mia has wrestled a duck.
- Bill was briefly in a Mexican jail.
- Tristan writes long posts about video game strategy on his personal blog.
People with strange, ambitious, and hilarious achievements make for incredible engineers, marketers, and account execs. They take risks, try new things, and are incredible to work with. If you’ve retrofitted a Keurig with a ballcock, you’re likely to be just as imaginative when optimizing MapReduce routines.
No Plans to De-Weird Ourselves
If you extrapolate the trend line from the rap video to the crew that we’ve assembled today, you can see that we are not asymptotically approaching peak weirdness. Both the first and second derivatives are still positive. We know who we are, and we’re looking to find more oddballs with a passion for data.
We’re not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s OK. But if you enjoy rap videos, duck wrestling, or toilet-inspired coffee machines, you know where to find us.