They say it takes a village to raise a child. What, then, does it take to raise and nurture a startup company?
Anyone who has been involved with a startup knows they are voracious beasts. Fledgling companies ruthlessly absorb all the time, funding, and expertise provided to them, and cannot be sated. Despite the significant challenges, my team at Takoda was able to rapidly progress toward the company’s vision of improving outcomes for substance use disorder providers and patients. Our value proposition centers around implementing performance-based treatment and increased patient engagement through our technology platform.
We have accomplished this all while still holding full-time jobs. Four of our eight team members work at 1904labs, and I attribute no small portion of our success to the resources here.
I have been with 1904labs for a little over three years. The culture and mentality the company has toward startups and innovation is unparalleled; a culture where those concepts are encouraged and applauded (yes – literal applause, during our bi-weekly innovation standups). It is a culture where you have dedicated funding as an employee benefit to support your personal growth, and four dedicated Innovation Hours per week to work on ambitions outside of client work.
In a past workplace, I had to tiptoe and hold my breath whenever my boss came around because I thought they might disapprove of my “side-gigs”. What business was it of theirs if I made sure not to use their intellectual property and I fulfilled all my responsibilities in my 40-hour workweek? 1904labs’ answer to that question is not that they are simply hands-off. In fact, the company is interested and invested in the work that its team members do on the side. Here, we aim to learn more about those projects in order to help each other, not to put shackles around the ideas. Once a month, I meet with Sean, the Managing Director of 1904labs, to receive mentorship on Takoda’s business model and strategy. We’ve even discussed the possibility of 1904labs investing into our budding company (fingers crossed!).
The psychological safety that I feel at 1904labs with regard to my other ambitions is deeply rooted in my interactions and experiences with the company. 1904labs understands that I have other itches I want to scratch and, believe me, I have founded my fair share of startups. In working with value propositions – ranging from helping runners train smarter, to pet owner social networks, and to performance-based treatment in substance use disorder clinics – I’ve learned about a wide gamut of industries. For all of these interests, 1904labs has stated they will make no claims to any intellectual property I develop while employed here. As long as I fulfill my obligations to our clients, I have free rein to explore and grow in other professional verticals.
What’s even more amazing is 1904labs’s pool of talented individuals who are willing to help startups like Takoda grow. In addition to mentorship on business strategy, we have taken advantage of seeking expert advice in marketing, human-centered and visual design, and data and decision science – all areas in which our current team is underpowered. 1904labs has helped fill in these gaps in Takoda’s skill sets without taking a single percent of equity.
Because of the support Takoda has received from 1904labs and the diligent work our team has been executing, I announced (once again, to applause from coworkers) that I am quitting 1904labs to become Takoda’s first full-time employee. I will be taking the knowledge I have learned here, originally as a Full Stack Developer and currently as an Agile Engineering Lead, and applying those skills at my new company. What will be pivotal in developing Takoda’s SaaS product is observing how enterprise software development functions and working through the managerial and human challenges that intermingle in the software development lifecycle. Seeing how 1904lab’s deliberately cultivated culture was developed, from when it was only a few months old until now, has also shaped the way that I envision culture coalescing at Takoda.
Takoda is only just beginning its journey, and both the company and I have benefited greatly from our incubation at 1904labs. I am excited for what the future holds and to take everything I have learned up to this point and apply it to a new problem space.
So... what does it take to raise a startup company? Quite a lot. However, after these past few years of experience, I can certainly attest that having the right environment to nurture a startup is key.