A division of Avanquest, Los Angeles-based myDevices launched its Internet of Things platform in October of 2015. This platform can allow developers to leverage any device (be it an IoT device like a sensor or a PC, printer, smartphone, or TV) with any kind of connectivity. It also features schedulers so users can turn things on and off, it can work at the edge without being connected to the cloud, and it has a rules engine.
TMC recently spoke with Kevin Bromber, CEO of myDevices, about his group’s company culture, and how it’s able to compete for top talent in the highly competitive tech arena.
Bromber previously served as co-founder and CEO of 3DGreetings.com, an electronic greeting card company; co-founder and CEO of NowMedia Corp., an interactive, live broadcasting platform; general manager of Arvixe, a web hosting company; and head of global business and corporate development for Avanquest, which is the fifth largest consumer software company in the world.
How would you describe your company culture?
In order to accomplish our stated goal of ‘simplifying the connected world’ we encourage and reward employees for exemplifying values such as innovation, creativity, and being fearless in developing the best IoT platform on the market. In this type of environment, you can actually feel the energy and power of great minds at work each and every day.
How do your employees figure in to that culture?
Our employees are the defining elements that make our culture. I have seen that when just a few team members operate at a higher level and exhibit passion for their work that the behavior often spreads across an organization quite quickly. Then as new employees come onboard and take ownership of their defined rolls they too realize that their contribution and commitment is important and absolutely necessary to accomplishing collective milestones.
How does the increasingly distributed workforce create challenges to building a strong company culture?
Our team is headquartered in Los Angeles yet we have employees in San Francisco, Washington D.C., France, Switzerland, Japan, Romania, and China. Indeed, it can be a challenge to actually get everyone together. But we have success with all-hands-on-deck meetings (at different times of the day based on team member locations) that bring the team together virtually. It is important to constantly over-communicate and share information between various departments and to form a united force. Keeping everyone on the same page and providing clear direction has been the key to maintaining our strong culture globally. Thankfully, technology makes it easier for team members to work together at record speed and connect to one another.
What does your company do to build employee morale?
If you are not having fun, then it simply is not worth the effort. If you haven’t held a Christmas Ugly Sweater contest in your organization, give it a try. We work hard to provide employees with team building activities such as company picnics, celebration dinners, and birthday breaks so we can step away from our offices and enjoy some time together. For instance, at our last company picnic we had several team exercises and competitions with nice prizes. I recall a drone obstacle course was particularly a big hit for participants and viewers. Another way we build employee morale is to emphasize that every member of the team is equally important to the success of our company. Each month we solicit ideas from product features to operational suggestions and reward winners with gift cards or cash.
How difficult (or easy) is it to find, hire, and keep great people in tech these days?
Los Angeles is experiencing a significant tech boom, so it is becoming more difficult to compete for top talent. Certainly being known as a great place to work (result of a positive company culture) is a major factor in recruiting. As we have continued to scale I would say that over 75 percent of our new hires were referred by existing employees. Good people know good people.
What does it take to get and retain the best employees in an industry in which companies like Google have such a strong brand, enormous financial resources, and a culture of fun?
Large tech companies may have perceived advantages by offering dry cleaning services and massages but the employees we attract to our smaller organization want an environment where they know they can be heard and that their work is going to make an immediate impact. Being a part of team that is working hard and fast to build a strong brand is more attractive to our employees than working for a massive organization.