To make PERFORM: The Unsexy Truth About (Startup) Success we contacted many founders and CEOs of successful companies so that we could use their expertise and choose the most valuable lessons and principles that worked for them. We’ve done 50+ interviews with successful founders and thought leaders from the region. Unfortunately, we couldn’t include the full interviews in the book, so here we would like to share it with you, as we believe there are a lot of great insights.
Andrey Khusid is the founder and CEO of MIRO – a company with over 30 million users that quickly became one of the most widely used tools for business communication. MIRO recently raised $400 million in a Series C that propels its valuation to $17.5 billion. Enjoy reading the full interview with Andrey Khusid (done in the summer of 2020):
1. You guys have such a clear mission. When did you realize the importance of culture?
How early should startup founders start conversations about mission, values and culture?
We knew the importance of culture from day one and in my opinion, day one is the right time to start deciding on values and crafting the culture you want your startup to have. A company’s culture and values help it attract the right people for its mission, and since the earliest team members pass the cultural torch down to later hires, you need to build your cultural foundation early. I knew from the outset that I wanted my company to be a product-led company with a customer-centric approach to innovation and strong collaboration, and as a result, people with similar values are the ones who are drawn to Miro and who ultimately stay and thrive here. I watched videos, read blogs, listened to podcasts of well known leaders to learn the importance of making it right
2. How did the way you plan and set priorities evolve with the growth of the company?
Could you share some successful practices that help you to stay focused today?
To keep ourselves customer-centric, we set goals for active users instead of revenue because we believe user activity is a better indicator of both value-delivered and long-term business health than how much money we’re transacting every month.
Focusing on user activity and growth informs priorities and creates focus at the departmental level as well. Our marketing teams know to target the right kinds of customers who will use the product frequently. Our product teams know they need to build new features and capabilities that drive engagement and expand use cases. And our sales and CS teams know they need to build consultative and educational processes that will close and keep the right kinds of business. As an organization, we know that if we’re all aligned on driving usage and bringing real value to our users, revenue will follow.
3. Could you share a story of struggle / a major difficulty you experienced as a team?
What helped you to overcome it?
In 2019 we changed our name and rebranded from RealtimeBoard to Miro. Rebrands are huge, complex projects with countless design, legal, and logistical challenges, and we knew ours would be no exception. But, we all felt it was an important step in our journey so we took the leap.
What helped us overcome this challenge was global alignment, context, and collaboration. It truly was a test of our own product and our culture. We did some great things as well as some mistakes being not aligned. But we did retros, fixed problems and drove learnings out of that. Because we had spent years building an organization that embraced change and welcomed feedback, we were able to handle this project smoothly and with no unexpected difficulty.
4. What were some of the advantages for you to start in Russia, and generally how did being raised in this region of the world help you to build a global company?
I didn’t start in Russia because it was an advantage, it was just my reality as having been born and raised in Perm. However, starting from the very early days as a multinational company kept us very focused on the challenges of virtual collaboration and forced us to design the product that we needed to be successful as we grew. For that reason, our product is far ahead of our competition in providing value to remote-first teams, which in the age of COVID has been extremely valuable.
These days you can start a business from your home anywhere in the world and build a global & generational company. It’s just a matter of your vision, ability to bring in top talent, and continuously focus on deliverables. Also, I suggest learning from the best. I did and still do follow insightful blogs and channels of successful entrepreneurs.
5. How do you make sure you take care of the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees, especially with the growth you’ve had in recent months?
We try to find cultural ways to protect employee mental health well-being. We just completed a global, Virtual Offsite event that included workshops and sessions that focused on team building and employee wellness. We also encourage people to clearly mark working and non-working hours, and ask managers to lead by example in not pinging employees while they’re on holidays or other types of leave. Recently, to celebrate our Series B funding raise, we gave the whole company a day off. We also offer credits for employees to use Talkspace to cover the cost of therapists in video sessions. We encourage employees to be transparent with managers about their well-being and take a no-shame approach to asking for time off when needed.
As you can see, building a successful startup company takes paying a lot of attention to your values, company culture, and leading with care. If you want to read more about this, you can order PERFORM: The Unsexy Truth About (Startup) Success now on Amazon.
Enjoy reading and #KeepPERFORMing