Preface: A Word On Culture
One of my most meaningful college classes was called ‘A Survey of Anthropology’, taught by the infamous Mrs. Murray. A professor with an intimidating glare and stern tone, she was known to slap her 36’ ruler on the wall whenever she wanted to make a point. I remember one particular thwack during her lecture on the birth of culture, as she uttered one of her most unforgettable lines: “Behavior through values, values by culture, and culture from idea.” Mrs. Murray was trying to explain the origin of culture through what she called a domino equation.
From what I understood, culture spawned from a fundamental idea – an ultimate goal that the creator(s) of the idea strived to achieve. From there, culture arose through a combination of processes, customs, and values developed to help reach that common goal. Behaviors were then shaped to reflect and exemplify those values and the culture as a whole. In hindsight, Mrs. Murray’s point made me look at culture differently and it framed my understanding of the origins of culture, including the culture of the Sendwithus San Francisco office.
Sendwithus started with Matt and Brad. While completing contract work for various clients, they recognized a pattern where many companies lacked workable solutions for managing transactional email content. This realization drove Matt and Brad to create what would later become Sendwithus.
After completing a successful round at Y Combinator in 2014, attracting strong support from multiple Angel investors, and building a working product, Sendwithus was born. Brad oversaw development in Victoria, BC, while Matt built a Sales and Marketing team in the San Francisco office on Pearl Street. A compact office tucked away near the Financial District, Matt, Jeremy (Business Development Manager), and Alex (then Marketer, now Product Manager) worked hard to build the Sendwithus presence in a city bustling with tech, e-comm, and financial giants. After a couple of years, the San Francisco team outgrew the Pearl Street office and moved into a spacious loft that was once a dance studio in the Mission District.
The San Francisco Team
Since joining Sendwithus as the first Operations Coordinator in August, 2017, I have witnessed significant growth and change. The physical space has been transformed from an oddly cat-themed, poorly divided space into a warm and welcoming, open office, complete with accents of signature Sendwithus orange and two phone booths for our Sales team.
The team itself has doubled in size since then and, truthfully, it’s like working with longtime friends. We know when to have fun, when to work hard, how to make each other smile, and how to brew a mean pot of coffee. Most of all, we share a wholehearted respect for one another, which continues to strengthen our bond. This respect permeates the entire company, driving our communications with clients and our interactions with the communities where we work, live, and play.
Sendwithus culture can be characterized in two words: solidarity and experimentation. There is a profound sense of solidarity, as with most lean teams, where we work as a unit, we endure as a unit, and we enjoy success as a unit. Since day one, I have felt a sense of inclusion that ensures everyone is heard and included in decision making. An example of this is our daily standup meetings, where every team is given space and encouraged to discuss their projects, address any issues affecting them, and ask questions.
Throughout the company, experimentation is supported and failure is embraced. As mistakes are made, each team is able to improve and innovate because no idea is too outrageous for exploration. I relate this to Samuel Beckett’s mantra, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Our team rallies behind these ideas and, in turn, uses them to propel the company to new heights. You’ll notice in the Q & A below that our folks relate to them often.
Note: Sendwithus is affectionately referred to internally as SWU (pronounced swoo, rhymes with moo). You’ll hear it a lot around here.
Now, I’m pleased to introduce a few of the fine folks who call the San Francisco office home.
First up, our CEO, Matt Harris. After graduating from the University of Victoria with a Computer Science degree, Matt saw a need for better automated-email solutions and co-founded Sendwithus in 2013.
Tell me about the Sendwithus SF office or atmosphere.
Our San Francisco office has really evolved in the last few months. New team members and some renovations have made this a great space to work. It’s bright, comfortable, and everything we need is here. I like that the atmosphere is always dynamic. Some days it feels calm and focused and other days it’s filled with conversation and the sound of people working through problems.
What gets you to wake up and grind every morning?
Generally, it’s my phone buzzing that gets me out of bed! Sendwithus is on my mind 24/7, and I’m always keen to get going because this is my life’s work. Also, I look forward to the good coffee and hanging out with the growing team.
What’s it like being a CEO?
The role of a CEO is incredibly challenging, rewarding, humbling, and changing. It’s a job that requires an incredible dedication to time management, critical thinking, and empathy. It’s also very different from being a Founder; the Founder creates and imagines [the vision] while the CEO builds the company.
This is Jeremy, our Business Development Manager. From working at Sendwithus in its early days, Jeremy is now a part of the Executive team and helps influence the big decisions impacting the company’s long term growth.
What does a regular work week look like for you?
Lots of meetings! They are a necessary evil to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s well worth it, though, as we definitely execute at a high level.
How has the Sendwithus culture changed from its early days, till now?
From a working environment perspective, not too much. We still work hard, but are professional and respect one another. The biggest change has been our mindset around product development. We are much more disciplined and thoughtful in how we build things now.
What about working at Sendwithus motivates you?
Besides working with a great group of people, I’m excited about solving a real problem for large companies that has largely been ignored until now.
Next is Megan, our VP of Marketing. With over 20 years of marketing experience with enterprise organizations like TriNet, Microsoft, and Orion Health, Megan knows how to make Sendwithus a company to remember.
What’s the Sendwithus San Francisco culture like?
The SF culture isn’t that different from the Victoria office. We’re all here to do a job, build something of value for our customers, and contribute what we can to that. We’re all doing our best and the drive to continuously improve is pervasive here.
As the VP of Marketing, what does your day-to-day look like?
My day now typically involves a little bit of everything: checking email over coffee after my workout, riding my bike through San Fran to our office in the Mission, checking in with the team, meetings, reviewing documents and contracts, coordinating with our PR firm, and brainstorming ways to improve and grow. As a leader, I need to be willing to do the work with the team as well – every day. So I spend a lot of time helping with tasks. It ensures I keep learning every day.
If you could share a memory at Sendwithus, what would it be?
I think that with SWU, there have been a lot of little moments that mean a lot. Some have been during team lunches, outings, or tree trimmings, but some have been during rote, day-to-day tasks and meetings. I’ve laughed myself silly in an all-day meeting that should not necessarily have been fun by definition! But being there with teammates I enjoy working with, who help me learn AND have fun every day, made it enjoyable.
Meet Paul, an Account Executive. Paul is looking to apply deal-closing tactics acquired through his experience at Ensighten to tackle our big-name accounts.
The team! We are a small group in our San Francisco office, so everyone relies on one another for help. I am challenged in my role and the transparency from the top-down helps align my motivations to our team’s common goals. It’s definitely tough to build a culture that inspires us to come into the office everyday but we all feel it here. And the mission of making transactional email, which has been around since the dinosaurs, a better and more intuitive experience remains long overdue. We’re tackling it head-on.
Take us through a typical workday at Sendwithus.
As an Account Executive, my schedule can vary quite widely every day — especially depending on the clients’ needs. I spend most of my week planning and attending customer-facing meetings. Typically, these are an equal mix of discovery, salesmanship, and education. Since a check-box doesn’t exist for our type of software, it’s important to help drive market fit and need. The rest of my time is spent on CRM hygiene, educating myself, and planning my future outbound campaigns!
What’s the office vibe like?
Fun and professional! Our small office enables easy collaboration amongst the Sales and Marketing teams, and we have quiet areas where I can retreat to for customer calls. Our community area provides a friendly meeting space where we can both huddle for business and enjoy music to stir the creative thoughts. Disruptive technology can’t be borne from silence!
Here’s Jon, an Account Executive with experience in big-tech corporations such as Oracle. With a proven track-record, Jon aims to double the Sendwithus customer base in the months to come.
What’s the feeling of being a Sendwithus team member?
I am very excited to be a part of SWU. My on-boarding experience was excellent and I’m really enjoying being a part of the team.
What is it about Sendwithus that excites you?
What’s exciting for me as a salesperson is the buzz that SWU is generating from it’s Series A announcement and the large enterprise brands that we’re engaged with. I think the opportunity is tremendous.
Your goals for the next few months at Sendwithus?
Over the next few months, I want to become fully versed in the platform. I hope to build a healthy sales pipeline and close some business. I also look forward to getting to know my colleagues better.
This is Meredith, a talented Marketing Manager who’s putting Sendwithus on the map with her campaign savvy and technical knowledge from her experience at InBenta.
What was your first day like at Sendwithus SF?
It was exciting; like walking around a new city. I loved learning about the way things run, what’s included in the tool stack, how the product works. I’m also a fan of collaboration, so getting to do that on Day 1 was very telling about how closely the teams work here.
Where do you see Sendwithus long term?
I feel like I’ve come into SWU at a good time. I see us as a company that is not only cognizant of when we should adapt, but also one that executes at a fast pace. As Sales and Marketing are further aligned and ramped up over the next few months, my hope for Sendwithus in the long term would be a strong increase in MOM lead generation, matched with new Enterprise clients providing high LTV.
What drew you to Sendwithus?
I found SWU through AngelList and it fit the initial parameters of my search: startup, office in the city, at least Series A funding, not an agency. But it was really my initial meeting with Megan that piqued my interest and led me to pursue a position here. She energetically and passionately painted a picture of SWU’s product development and culture. My in-person interview with the team further confirmed that this was the place I wanted to work; one that was filled with brilliant, driven, and kind people.
These are some of the unique individuals of the Sendwithus San Francisco office, people who are continually contributing to the betterment of the whole company. They demonstrate the importance of companies investing in their employees, not just for their ability to produce, but because they help shape the company values that drive growth.
The Sendwithus team provides the fuel that keeps us moving forward.