‘From Zero to One’: How Cie’s Culture Helps New Ideas Shine

Everyone has a seat at the table at Cie. Built In dove into the mission, culture, and teamwork that drives this innovative business.

Written by Conlan Carter
Published on Jun. 05, 2024
‘From Zero to One’: How Cie’s Culture Helps New Ideas Shine
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What do public safety training, school lunch programs, and advertising all have in common?  They have all been reimagined, courtesy of venture studio, Cie

Included in Cie’s extraordinarily diverse portfolio is a mix of early-stage ventures and partnerships with well-known brands ranging from large-scale logistics companies to healthcare providers to SaaS — all united under Cie’s goal to take on large-scale issues with modern solutions. 

“Cie’s mission is to tackle real-world problems, empower entrepreneurs and drive meaningful impact,” said CEO and Founder Anderee Berengian. 

 

From ‘Zero to One’ 

At the core of Cie’s mission is a “Zero to One” methodology, the driving force behind the venture studio’s success. Cie works hands-on with its portfolio companies in the earliest stages,  providing strategic direction and critical leaders to help each business quickly reach important milestones with capital efficiency. The venture studio distinguishes itself from venture capital firms by combining the best of both worlds — with a practical, contemporary approach to problem-solving and a sharp eye for companies with a similar mindset.

“Our team finds solutions to genuine problems and shapes the future of our world,” said  Berengian.“We steer promising startups from inception to realization, revolutionizing industries  and driving societal progress.”  

Through this strategy, the Cie team aims to get startups to what COO Alvin Fong calls “exit velocity,” the level of success required for the startup’s exit strategy. Conceptually, Cie launches its companies less like the exit velocity of a baseball struck by a skilled batter and more like the escape velocity of a satellite in orbit: Investments are carefully supervised, adjusted and accelerated until they are ready to fly solo. 

The Cie team offers up their combined entrepreneurial experience, giving startups the foundation they need to develop their products and business models to achieve long-term success. 

We build ideas into businesses: Our team develops the business strategy, go-to-market plan, optimizes product offerings and builds high-performing teams, so entrepreneurs can focus on what they do best,” said Fong. 

 

“We build ideas: Our team fine-tunes business strategy, optimizes  product offerings, and builds high-performing teams.”

 

‘Everyone Has a Seat at the Table’ 
Cie 

 

‘Everyone Has a Seat at the Table’ 

As a well-tuned team of startup specialists, there’s no shortage of idea-sharing at Cie. Bumps and wrong turns are not uncommon on the road to startup success, and the venture studio encourages a vested interest — and fresh ideas — from anyone on the Cie team.

For someone like HR Business Partner, Pia Mulligan, the team-centered, startup mindset is where mission and culture intersect. 

“It truly is an ‘everyone has a seat at the table’ type of culture,” said Mulligan. “From the  executive team to our entry-level employees, everyone is hands-on and crucial to achieving our  mission.” 

When the next great idea could come from anywhere, Cie ensures that no one feels discouraged from sharing. Like the startups it supports, Cie embraces an egalitarian culture of problem-solving, allowing employees on every level of the organization to let their voices be heard. 

“We work without ego.” said Berengian. “Novel ideas can come from anywhere, especially in a  diverse group of people with different backgrounds and perspectives, so we make sure  everyone has a chance to shine.”  

 

“Novel ideas can come from anywhere — we make sure everyone has a  chance to shine.”

 

At Cie, a vested interest in each portfolio company is table stakes and every Cie employee gets their fair share. Cie employees are granted a share of the organization’s equity in its portfolio companies, so when a Cie company achieves a successful exit, everyone shares in the upside. 

“We give every employee a piece of every company we build — it’s a great way to keep everyone mission-aligned and working as an efficient team,” said Mulligan. 

United in their mission to build companies they believe in, Cie employees work together to fight the daily challenges of their growing startups. 

“Collaborative is how I would describe our team culture: We're all on the same team, with the same goal — making the world a better place,” said Fong. 

 

“We're all on the same team, with the same goal — making the world a  better place.”

 

Cie employees pose for a group photo in front of a sparkling wall.
Cie 

 

Passion for Potential 

Identifying and encouraging the potential of others is a shared passion at Cie. Outside of partnering with promising startups, the company extends this passion to the local Orange  County community. Through various events and organizations like Irvine Tech Week, UC  

Irvine’s Undergraduate Success Advisory Board and Innovate@UCLA, Cie helps shape the next generation of startups and tech leaders in their earliest stages. 

Much like it pays forward support in its community, Cie invests in the potential for greatness of its employees. Working at Cie presents no shortage of daily learning opportunities for early- to mid-career professionals. Since they cooperate with the startups they invest in, employees are innovating and creating new methodologies alongside the companies they help to grow,  accelerating their personal growth simultaneously. 

“Employees experience a one-of-a-kind journey at Cie likened to a ‘start-up university,’” said  Fong. “The breadth and variety of experience you gain here is unlike anywhere else.” 

 

“The breadth and variety of experience you gain here is unlike anywhere  else.” 

 

Additionally, Cie’s leadership team combines decades of hands-on experience one would expect from a visionary venture studio, with champions of business development, branding,  finance, operations and entrepreneurship.  

“If we look at the composition of our executive team, expertise runs incredibly deep — at the helm are key members who have been integral to the success of nearly 100 startups, resulting in over 15 exits,” said Mulligan. 

With so much shared startup experience, the Cie hiring model considers that startup greatness can come from anywhere — even if a prospective new team member has yet to cut their teeth in the tech scene. Like the companies it fights for, Cie’s mission to maximize potential extends to its hiring ethos. 

“We look for potential and capability,” said Mulligan. “It's not just about the skills you bring to the  table; it's about your willingness to think creatively, push boundaries, embrace uncertainty, and  obsess about ensuring success.”  

With their eyes on the future, the Cie team continues to make their mission a reality: solving problems to build a better world. Embracing uncertainty, learning collaboratively and believing in potential, there is no telling what cutting-edge business venture Cie will tackle next, but with this team, it is bound to be tackled together.  

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Cie.

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