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Setting the foundation for built-to-last companies

When it comes to building a company, there are some things you just can’t retrofit — you have to set them in place on day one. In this session at Early Stage 2022, Manny Medina, co-founder and CEO of Outreach joined Mayfield’s Rajeev Batra to share Medina’s insights from his company’s inception and throughout its iconic journey. They discussed lessons learned about building an empathetic performance culture, embedding DEI into your company DNA, the playbook for great category design and more.

Manny Medina shares the values that he and his three co-founders instilled in Outreach from day one — and why keeping true to those core values set up the company for long-term growth and success.

I’m a Latino immigrant and my co-founders are three white guys from Washington state. We cared for each other and took turns lifting each other up, and that made us more powerful. I was CEO and technically their boss (only because I was the worst coder), but I couldn’t just tell my co-founders what to do. It forced me to take a step back and sell everything that I wanted to get done. 

Everything that we did came from a point of empathy, of caring for our co-workers, our customers and the business as a whole. When you take care of your people and your customers, everything else takes care of itself. When we hit about 10 million AR, we were 50 people from different walks of life. We sat down and decided to lock in our values. We find that strength in diversity of thought, of color and of experiences adds to our culture, our product and our success. It lets us live these values and continue our business growth.

Here’s an example. Almost 50% of our company is female. But you know, it begins at the top right? So if you’re intentional about the kind of people that you want to bring, you know what you get from them, and why you want to build your business that way, then then it propagates as you’re building it. It’s hard to retrofit that later. If you’re 100 guys and then you want to be diverse, it’s really hard to bring somebody who is not from your background. They won’t be accepted. 

The word we use is cultural fit, and it could be poisonous if your culture is homogeneous and everyone looks the same. 

So you have to be intentional and that means two things. It generally means that you think about who you want to be when you’re 1,000 people, and then you start solving that today. And secondly, you allow yourself to make mistakes. You’re trying to push the boundaries of who belongs in your company. You will make mistakes. If you’re not, then you’re a homogeneous culture.

But if you’re really intentional about bringing in diverse backgrounds, then you’re going to make a mistake and that has to be okay. Because you learn and then you know. You treat it very humanely and you move forward when you need to grow.

Manny Medina | Co-founder and CEO — Outreach

Listen to this session and others from Early Stage here.