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How our culture supports growth

How Our Culture Supports Growth | Nicole Underwoodby Nicole Underwood, HR Director

Xinova grew quickly in 2018 to become the world’s only platform-enabled market network for innovation. Across the globe, we added hundreds of innovators to our network; a pair of European offices; another floor of office space packed with scores of new full-time employees at the Seattle headquarters; several new partners; and we acquired whole new teams who’ve helped build our platform and develop our services across the innovation lifecycle. While other great companies have sunk beneath the weight of such expansion challenges, our rapid growth clarified our purpose and bettered us as a company.

So what kept us together? There are several contributing factors, but a special culture of trust, autonomy and transparency certainly united and propelled us along the right track. Our culture empowers us to advance and grow as innovators, while giving us a voice in what and how things are done. It is constantly evolving, and adapting to the involvement of our people around the world, whether they join as individual hires or via whole team acquisitions.

How Xinova Culture Support GrowthCulture doesn’t generate from one person or one department. It’s a collective. It’s an experience. What I love about Xinova is everyone has actively engaged in how to define our culture and what it means to work here.  The genuine spirit of culture comes from and is shaped by employees who engage to help it come alive.

We have come to Xinova in different ways. Some have been here for years, participating in the genesis of Xinova from concept to spinoff to startup. Others joined individually after Xinova was born. Still others were acquired as whole teams.  Each of these experiences have shaped Xinova, and future additions will continue to evolve the company’s identity. Our diversity in who we are and how we came here fuels real passion for our work and our mission.

Feedback is key

Feedback is key to shaping such a dynamic work environment. For people to feel the impact of their contributions, it is important to be transparent about our goals and what our expectations are for meeting them.  We actively engage in developing our team through understanding what capabilities are needed across the organization. As such, we have rolled out a lightweight performance development approach, which identifies employees’ needs and wants, while providing ongoing feedback. Employees, in return, provide feedback on the process so we can shape an experience that works for them, rather than dictate an experience we demand of them.  

As Matthew Holloway, VP Products, notes, this is how we similarly build our products: we ask our innovators for input on their experience, and then we shape the product together to achieve maximum productivity.

How Our Culture Supports Growth | Matthew Holloway“Trust, autonomy and transparency are not just fluffy descriptions, they are core to how we operate our market network. We embody those ideals in our market network to help transform how companies, organizations and individuals innovate. Establishing trust with our network members, customers and investors enables their contribution of ideas, so we may co-invest in their development and share in their reward. We provide the necessary tools for collaboration and exploration to facilitate discovery of innovations that will solve global problems. All the while, ensuring the process from beginning to end is transparent so trust is maintained and autonomy is shared to achieve alignment and delivery.”

— Matthew Holloway, VP Products

Featured locally, thriving globally

Xinova has been in the news a lot lately. Built in Seattle named Xinova one of Seattle’s Best Places to Work and, a few weeks later, featured us in their “Mission driven: How culture drives purpose in 5 Seattle tech companies.” They also featured us in 50 Startups to Watch. Meanwhile, we landed on the GeekWire 200 with an enviable debut spot of 81 on the prestigious ranked index.

Although we’re proud to have received accolades from Seattle media for the vibrant culture of our Pioneer Square headquarters, Xinova’s culture has been engineered to thrive globally. From Australia to Asia to Israel to Finland, we recognize that an enduring culture of innovation builds out from the employee experience via three key areas: the work environment; physical spaces; and technology that connects distributed teams to dream and deliver together with ease and efficiency. We encourage spaces where employees can share meals and ideas. We participate in Slack channels full of intellectual debates on design thinking, passionate discussions about innovation, and transparent conversations about projects and proposals.

Don’t just take my word for it. Raine Hermans, a key member of the Innovation Banking team brought over from Tech Reserve in 2018, works out of Finland and has an interesting international perspective on the Xinova culture.

How Our Culture Supports Growth | Raine Hermans“Since coming to Xinova along with the Innovation Banking team from Tech Reserve, I’ve appreciated the flexible approach to integrating our innovation services, and the autonomy given to me here in Finland to adapt Xinova processes to Nordic business norms.  

While our Helsinki office is beautiful, the vibrant and attentive work environment in Seattle also deeply impressed me and my visiting Finnish customers, who prefer extensive face-to-face interaction throughout a business relationship. Xinova’s leadership has excelled in helping me establish trusting relationships here in a region where Xinova does not yet (but surely will) command brand name recognition.

Everyone is incredibly helpful and bright. In addition to being leading experts, these are great people to work and spend time with.”  

— Raine Hermans, Managing Director, Innovation Banking and Development

And Kaj Pedersen, Global Head of Operations, came over with 12 others from Ivy Softworks and hasn’t looked back.

How Our Culture Supports Growth | Kaj Pedersen“What I enjoyed about joining the Xinova team was how quickly they welcomed us into the organization.  It is challenging on both sides of the process as we mesh together our capabilities and deal with the conflicts these may generate.  The Xinova team looked at our perspectives with good intention, while explaining their own to help us find common ground, which we could move forward on.  The best example of this is the way they embraced the decision to move from their office in Columbia Tower back to the Ivy Softworks office in Pioneer Square. This all took six weeks after the aquire — a testament to how quickly decisions can be made, while the culture adapted to the excitement and possibilities that would come from our new space.

“What is exciting about Xinova is that the cultural values are not just ‘on the wall’. The cultural values are engaged, lived, and challenged.  Our values help us shape our creation process and provide clarity when it is messy. What we knew from our experience at Ivy Softworks was to expect messy,  and our team looks for those who are willing to jump into the mess and are willing to clean. We found this was also the case at Xinova and our similar values allowed for a common language to form, so that everyone engaged to work on the same mess, in the same direction, to achieve the right result…and to do so cheerfully!”

— Kaj Pedersen, Global Head of Operations

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