The competition to attract the best and brightest is tighter than ever, especially when you’re not located in one of the country’s business and technology hubs. That’s why when startup Minim was founded in 2017, its founders decided to embrace the idea of a distributed team rather than limiting itself to talent located around its Manchester, NH, headquarters.
Minim touts an IOT platform designed for intelligent WiFi management and security, and offers usable apps for consumers and their service providers to protect connected devices and optimize WiFi performance. It’s now partnering with ISPs, managed service providers, distributed business and device manufacturers who want to help make home connectivity safer.
But building a distributed team comes with its struggles. Minim has to work especially hard to build team cohesion and put processes in place that allow all team members to communicate efficiently and effectively. As Minim has become more global, it has worked through problems like setting meeting times that work across time zones and ensuring distributed workers have the same tools to complete their assignments as those sitting at headquarters.
But in return, the company is able to build a diverse melting pot of an organization, naturally including voices from different backgrounds and locales. The unique experiences they bring to the table have largely shaped the culture Minim has today.
“I think so many companies think that they’re going to define a culture from the top down, or that the CEO defines the culture… but ultimately, it’s every single person in the company. It’s the sum of the relationships that equal the culture,” CEO Gray Chynoweth says.
In order to retain those employees, Minim’s leadership team hasn’t been afraid to offer benefits that are far from the usual. There’s even a benefit that comes packaged with Minim’s distributed team structure: it doesn’t matter if you’re on the beach in Hawaii or in a home office in Montana so long as you complete your assigned tasks.
“Every company is a democracy because every person votes with their feet when they show up every day and we want to make sure they walk into our door,” Chynoweth says.
Minim has also embraced an unlimited vacation policy that allows the company to consider the individual circumstances and the needs of every worker. It also allows space for a worker to assess how much downtime they need to recharge and if they can still meet their targets.
“What unlimited paid time off means to me is it forces a conversation about how much time a person can leave a company and a company can still achieve what it needs to achieve to stay in business and support its customers,” Chynoweth says.
Minim is also a pet-friendly workplace, and a dog named Wiley is the company’s mascot. He comes in almost daily to spend time with employees.
“He’s a really special dog because when you’re having a stressful day, somehow he ends up at your feet and even in your lap, taking down your stress levels and being another outlet for the anxiety that you may feel at that time,” co-founder/CFO Liz Hitchcock says.
Minim also decided to launch an employee IOT Lab program through which workers are shipped requested smart home devices that they get to the test in their own homes. It gives employees access to plenty of fun gadgets, but it also helps Minim with its long-term product testing.
“When you think about a culture that puts itself in the shoes of its users, that’s really where you get powerful commitment to the product from the people that are creating it,” Chynoweth says.
– Sara Winegardner