What makes a great startup culture and why is it beneficial?

Holly Liu / November, 2017


Holly Liu founded the venture-backed mobile gaming company, Kabam in 2006 with UC Berkeley alumni. Kabam was sold to South Korea’s Netmarble Games for a reported $800 million in 2017. Holly led the design for Kabam’s award-winning “Kingdoms of Camelot” franchise, which has grossed over $250 million in less than four years.

Watch this video as she explains why alignment is important for the startup culture.

Video transcript:

What makes a great startup culture and why is it beneficial?

Often times I am asked about what makes a great start of culture. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a good culture or bad culture. There is just kind of a culture for you. As unique as people groups that we are, we have very different cultures across the world. There is not really one right or wrong. There is definitely both the pros and cons of every single culture.

However, for us, we really cared a lot about long-term performance within our company. There was an interesting book that I read a while ago called ‘Corporate Culture and Performance’. This person basically took the performance of the stock and tried to look inside their corporate culture and made some observations. He made basically three observations around these cultures that impacted performance. They had three special things; the first one was a strongly aligned culture, the second one was that they were adaptive at the core, and the third one is that they cared about all three stakeholders. Which is usually employees, customers as well as your stockholders or your investors.

I think one of the three that sticks out to me the most that I feel like it has been probably the largest impact in the startup culture is how strongly aligned the team is. When you are small often times we talk about a startup needing to have focus. It’s just another nice way of saying alignment. When it’s at a larger level we do talk a lot about alignment or you heard the corporate phrase of ‘singing from the song sheet’ that’s where it comes from.

The introduction of goals and how do we get the goals rolled out. These are all things to help the culture align and the group of people aligns around things. Obviously, at the core of that is your value set. That should be your aligning kind of light on kind of how you do the work. But most of all, I do believe that anything that’s around the alignment of a startup culture makes a really great startup culture. Because that means if you find yourself in a situation where you do need to change, you need to introduce more innovation or you need to introduce speed. You’d be able to do that very quickly and very easily.



Next Up

Why is it important to think about the employee benefit programs?

What are some measurable goals in diversity recruiting?

How do I identify if they are a good hire?

What are the main challenges of being a young CEO?

How do you increase the team’s engagement and productivity?

Join the Startupedia Community

Connect with VCs and unlock vital startup advice!