The Genesis of Our Culture

The Genesis of Our Culture

In the world of startups, culture is a buzzword often thrown around like confetti. Free time, free food… ping pong. But is that really culture? 

💡 Picture this scenario: an internet blackout leaves you facing the most crucial decisions for your company. What would guide your choices if you are unable to reach your managers nor colleagues? Culture is precisely that—a compass that aligns with what your company values, steering you through even the darkest storms. It’s the fabric of your organization, woven with principles that shape your destiny.

The Genesis of Our Culture 🌱

Before the inception of Leapfin, my co-founder Erik Yao and I embarked on a transformative journey with PlayHaven, one of the pioneering mobile advertising networks. By Silicon Valley standards, it was deemed successful.. However, we saw it differently—we viewed it as a failure.

Reflecting on this chapter, we dissected the reasons behind why we felt that way while friends around us celebrated our wins: wrong hires, misaligned Board members, and lack of process to scale. Yet, what struck me most was the recurring theme—all of these issues rooted in having the wrong people. Why did we hire so many wrong people even though they all seem to have the perfect resume?

The Value of Shared Principles 💬

We soon realized that despite the impressive resumes and track records, PlayHaven lacked shared values at its core. Erik and I, in the midst of heated debates, always returned to a particular set of principles that guided us. This revelation sparked a pivotal decision—to codify these values and create a cohesive set of guiding principles.

Prior to Leapfin while we were ideating our next chapter, we decided these principles remained constant, representing what we believed in, whether we started a B2B or B2C company. After Leapfin was founded, it became non-negotiable for us—everyone we brought on board must embrace and share these values. Otherwise, we knew the fabric of our team would be frayed, hindering our collective success.

The Unique DNA of Our Company 🧬

The values we forged, the principles we etched, became the unique DNA of Leapfin. There’s no right or wrong set of values; it’s the essence of who we are as a company. This DNA guides every decision we make, big or small, shaping the path to success.

Customer Success: Our True North 🌟

Of our five operating principles, customer success stands tall as our first and foremost priority. We’re not a product-first company, we’re not an engineering-first company, we’re not a sales-first company—we are a customer-first company. Every choice we make is underpinned by what’s best for our customers. They are the heartbeat of our organization, and their success fuels ours.

There’s no “Right” Culture” 🍏🔧

Apple is famous for its product-centric culture. Remember when the iPhone 7 removed the headphone jack? No customer-centric company would ever do that! Google had a strong engineering-centric culture, and Salesforce had a sales-centric culture. These companies all took very different paths but they’ve all led to tremendous success. However, at Leapfin, our true north is our customers. We fundamentally believe that making our customers successful is the key to our own success. It’s our unwavering guiding light.

These principles aren’t just for show; they are guiding stars for everyone in our company—for better or for worse. They empower us to tackle difficult decisions and weigh trades-offs between product decisions.

Culture and operating principles go beyond vanity. They are the bedrock of every great company—a compass that directs you through uncharted waters.