Company culture is the backbone of any business, but for startups with just a handful of employees, it is difficult to picture having definitive company values or culture - and hence many ignore it. However, these early days often help set the tone for the business for years to come.
One such startup is Lalamove, an on-demand logistics company in Asia that matches drivers with customers and SME businesses to fulfill same day deliveries.
When founder, Chow Shing-yuk, hired Blake Larson in July 2014, Lalamove was still in the early stages of growth. As Lalamove’s Managing Director of International, Blake oversees its business outside of Mainland China. Together, they decided to brainstorm and created four values which they will grow the startup on. Blake believes that with strong company values the right individuals will naturally be attracted to and thrive in their firm.
Lalamove currently has an estimated employee size of 496. This number is much higher than the average employee size of Series C tech companies.
Here are the four key values which Lalamove sticks by:
Passion – Intrinsic motivation and be the energy you want to attract
The ability to self-motivate and bring positive energy to work shows that you are passionate about what you do. “Your managers and teammates can motivate you when you are down, but if you are depending on outside forces to motivate you then it is probably not a place for you,” Blake says.
At Lalamove, this core value can be seen in their town hall meetings. Employees are encouraged to invite individuals that demonstrate any of their core values and share that passion with the rest of the company. One guest speaker was Ada Tsang, the first woman from Hong Kong to successfully scale Mount Everest on her third attempt. Her seven years of training and harrowing experiences she encountered exhibits utmost passion and determination for what she does.
By proactively inviting these individuals, employees also demonstrate passion and share this passion with those around them.
Grit – Made up of hustle, passion, and perseverance
For startups, it can be tough to hire top talent and compete against the likes of other established companies that offer lucrative salaries and benefits. Blake shares a story on how Lalamove managed to successfully win over a candidate by demonstrating grit and going the extra mile in wooing this candidate despite a high probability of the candidate rejecting the offer.
“There was nothing to lose, might as well go all out and all in! We got a Lalamove van driver, dressed in a Lalamove T-shirt, drove to his apartment and delivered the contract in a nicely wrapped parcel. Exactly what we would do with our customers. The candidate was humbled and maybe even floored by our tenacity and willingness to impress, and accepted the role with no regrets since.”
Humility – Believe in constant improvement and development
Two to three years ago, Lalamove could not afford to even get better office furniture. Engineers who sat in the office all day felt really uncomfortable in their old chairs and requested for Blake to get new chairs. So he decided to start a raffle in their monthly town hall meeting. Every month, five lucky workers would get a new chair and eventually, in one year everyone in the office managed to get their long-awaited new chair. “One has to work for anything they want, even an office chair”, quips Blake.
Today they no longer face this problem. Armed with US$100 million in new funding led by Shunwei Capital, it brings Lalamove’s total disclosed funding so far to US$160 million. This makes it one of the top-funded companies in Series C category. Lalamove currently operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and 100 cities on the mainland.
However, it has become a tradition for new employees to unbox their own chair, fit it together and proudly take their place in the company! As Blake acknowledges, there are good and bad times in any business. However, even in the face of challenges, the team should work harder together. “We never want to forget the hard times because times won’t always be perfect,” Blake says, “So we want to share it with them why we are the way we are as a company and believe that this chair symbolizes who we are and our values.”
Despite their current success, they remember the hardships and continue to keep their nose to the ground and push forward.
Execution – The things you do have to translate into results
Blake recalls how the tech team requested for a high-end coffee machine as they drink so much coffee! In the spirit of execution, Blake challenged them to work-for-their-keep by getting them out of the office to snap 50 pictures of Lalamove vans all over HK. And the deal - Blake will do the same and the competition is on for who can snap the 50, fastest! If they beat Blake to it, the coffee machine is done!
Such small and fun exercises inculcate a competitive spirit in the team. As Blake says, to get what you want you to have to "put yourself out there, execute and deliver results."
To prove that they deserve the coffee machine, they will have to give their all and perform well to attain their desired result. This applies regardless if it is in work or life.
Employees want a positive workplace culture; they are looking for growth opportunities and collaboration, among other aspects of organizational culture. Lalamoves’ 4 values precisely address these elements. By investing in their company’s culture, it shows employees that they care and are committed to the success of their workforce. Employees feel more valued for the work they do and are motivated to do better. As a famous saying goes, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” Lalamove has achieved that by moving the collective team upwards despite each employee’s diverse background!