This is a guest post written for BostInno contributed by Backupify CEO and Co-founder, Rob May.
When the NCAA college basketball tournament starts at noon on Thursday, the Backupify offices will shut down. As a Kentucky native and huge college basketball fan, I always took those first two tournament days off, so when I started my own company, I decided to institutionalize the practice and let everyone have those days off. But what started as a selfish desire to watch as much basketball as possible has turned into a deeper part of Backupify’s culture.
George Will once wrote that “sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.” Nowhere is that more true than in college basketball. As a CEO responsible for motivating and inspiring a team to compete and win against unlikely odds, I frequently use analogies from the sport I love. So as the NCAA tournament kicks off this week, here are three ways we embrace college basketball, and how it actually makes us a better company.
1. It makes us memorable.
Startup success is all about convincing top talent to join you on your startup journey. Most candidates we see have other interviews and other offers. One of the most important things we can do is to stick out and be memorable. Every startup says the same things: “we are customer-focused, looking for product-market fit; we only hire ‘A’ players, blah blah blah.” It all runs together and you can’t remember which startup said what because most of them all say the same things. When I tell people our conference rooms are named after college basketball teams, and that we get March Madness off, and that our top corporate value was inspired by a basketball analogy, they remember us, which increases our chances of winning them over to the Backupify team.
2. Our top corporate value is something we define as “hustle.”
We define hustle as, “get your work done, always put in the extra effort and play to win.” I always tell my team that success isn’t about hours worked. Yes, sometimes the solution to a problem is to put in more hours. But what’s more important is how hard you play during the hours you’re putting in. In college basketball, are you playing hard defense? Are you sprinting back down court? Or are you just lollygagging? At work, are you making the hard decisions and having the difficult conversations? Are you focused and engaged? Or are you spending 12 hours a day at the office, but only passively engaged and getting very little done?
3. Random days off are very refreshing.
People work a lot at startups, and even though we have an unlimited vacation policy, people don’t take a lot of vacation. When employees have traditional days off like Memorial Day and Independence Day, everything is closed and they are normally busy with activities with their family and friends. Having a few forced days off when the rest of the world is working gives Backupifiers a chance to catch up on life. (We also are closed on Groundhog Day and Cinco de Mayo for similar reasons).
When we moved Backupify from Kentucky to Boston, we wanted to keep some traditions that highlighted our Kentucky roots. But over time, these traditions have turned into something bigger, and have become more ingrained in the company than I ever thought they would. These traditions make us quirky, and help us attract high quality talent. So if you are a fan of college basketball, and the next few weeks are your most sacred time of year, I just want to let you know … we are hiring.