‘Be a Good Human.’ How Values Anchored Socialive’s Massive Growth.
Video content for marketing and internal business communications was already climbing ahead of 2020. According to Hubspot’s State of Video Marketing report, the number of marketers who implemented video tools jumped from 61 percent in 2016 to 81 percent in 2018.
Then the pandemic hit, forcing companies to swiftly reimagine how to deliver events, recruiting, learning and development programs, and more in remote environments. In pursuit of a cloud-based tool to capture, design and share high-quality video content, many companies — Salesforce, Walmart and Audible, among them — turned to Socialive.
The company, which launched in 2016 with a small team split between two offices, started off 2019 with merely 20 employees. As of August 2021, they have more than 100 employees across 23 states and revenue growth up 300 percent over the previous year.
“We went from a 20-person company with a product with lots of potential to a platform critical to business operations for Fortune 1000 and high-growth tech companies like TikTok, Oracle and Nike,” said VP of People Operations Anu Karwa.
So how did they cope with such massive growth? An onboarding virtual upgrade; open recruitment to anyone in the U.S.; diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; and platform adjustments that mimic on-premise video production capabilities definitely helped Socialive’s hockey stick growth, but Karwa tipped her hat to the core foundation Socialive was built upon.
“We have always prioritized empathy, integrity, trust and respect above all else, allowing our team to be their truest, best selves. That’s how the culture was established from the very beginning,” said Karwa.
For more on how Socialive’s culture steered the company through its recent growth, Built In LA unpacked the experience with Karwa.
LEADING PEOPLE OPERATIONS REMOTELY
As product demand began to increase rapidly, how did Socialive adjust its recruiting efforts?
Karwa: We initially had offices in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, plus a remote engineering team. As business started going through this high-growth phase, we knew our team resource plan had to shift and expand. We began recruiting all over the country and started supporting a home office set-up along with monthly stipends for phone and internet. Now we’re over 100 employees across 23 states and seven countries — and counting!
We ramped up across our sales, customer success, marketing, people and learning, and our product and engineering teams. By hiring the most talented, diverse group of people who exemplified our values from across the country, we were able to meet this moment for our business.
By hiring the most talented, diverse group of people who exemplified our values from across the country, we were able to meet this moment for our business. ”
Describe Socialive’s culture. How did you maintain it while rapidly scaling in a remote environment?
Our No. 1 company value is “be a good human.” We have always prioritized empathy, integrity, trust and respect above all else to allow our team to be their truest, best selves through inclusion. We are also committed to uplifting and championing different perspectives, which is spelled out in our value to “empower diverse voices.” To uphold a diverse, equitable culture, we launched our DEI task force, which is powered by team members from every department. We also created a Women’s Network which serves as a support for members as well as has its own relevant programming that is open to allies.
In addition, we added a fun integration into our Slack environment called Donut. It asks thought-provoking questions that make everyone stop what they’re doing to get in on debates such as, “If the fingers on one of your hands were condiment dispensers and you could only have those condiments for the rest of your life, what would you choose?” That led to one of the most heated debates on ranch dressing likely in the history of condiments. Now when you join as a new hire, we ask you to pledge your allegiance to the Ranch (Yay!) or Ranch (Meh) team.
What challenges did your team face during this time? How’d you overcome them?
We had to virtually onboard more than 80 employees and help them feel 100 percent embedded in our culture. We took a holistic approach in our onboarding strategy so new hires could learn about their functional role and team while gaining a deep understanding of each department. This helped them develop an intimate understanding of the platform and learn how and why customers use Socialive. Plus, we started hosting virtual “coffees” with at least a dozen people from outside their department so they can get to know their colleagues.
We also initiated mental health days. To combat Zoom fatigue and the impact of recent turmoil, we added one day per month for employees to take off and focus on themselves. We truly believe that rest leads to recharging, which leads to increased resilience.
What has your team learned about your company and yourselves throughout the past 15 months?
We learned that when we bring more diverse voices into the conversation, we see huge gains in business results, innovation and decision-making. When you shift from a California- and New York-centric mindset to having team members from every corner of the country and around the world, you just build a better product for a more diverse set of customers.
We also learned that we can figure out anything as long as we work as a team. We were unsure how things were going to fare when we started hiring and training new team members without ever meeting them in person. We used to train new sales members by sitting side-by-side with them for weeks. All of sudden, we had to drop our old ways and completely rethink training. Every department banded together to create virtual onboarding and training plans to create what I consider world-class onboarding. We developed group virtual demo training systems. We couldn’t have done all of that without the belief that we could accomplish anything together as a team.