Culture is deliberate: A conversation with Marketgoo’s founder and ‘Head of Culture’
August 23, 2019


What do you do when you have a successful SaaS company with 15 team members, serving 250,000 customers around the world?

You close down your only office and go fully remote, of course.

At least that’s what today’s guest did with his company. We sat down with Wences Garcia, CEO and Head of Culture at MarketGoo, a SaaS SEO tool, to talk about managing and growing a fully remote team.

In this podcast, we learned about Marketgoo’s culture, including transparency, ownership, and how they cultivate it with retreats. Please give it a listen or scroll down for the highlights!

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Culture before company

In Marketgoo’s blog, Garcia describes a moment when the company was not growing comfortably, in terms of revenue or MRR. As somebody previously obsessed with the monetary gain of entrepreneurship, Garcia instead found himself obsessed with growing and cultivating the culture. He changed his title to ‘Head of Culture’ and began measuring an ‘alternative p&l,’. In this structure, wisdom, trust, and peace of mind add to the company’s growth alongside the more traditional financial KPIs such as assets and cash flow.

Knowing that the founder is the most critical element of building a great culture, Garcia embedded ideas such as working flexibly and with freedom, via projects based on output, with remote working a fundamental cornerstone.

Wences also fostered a founder mentality across the team, keeping it lean and focusing on being global, working in a borderless way without relying on VC (or any external) funding. In the podcast, Wences explains that they worked collaboratively across the team to define what they stand for- their mission, purpose, and values. Using this process, Marketgoo leverages purpose as a driver for success, with a small but mighty team rowing in the same direction.

Transparency

To achieve a culture to be proud of, keeping the team lean but dedicated to the cause, Garcia focused on empowering his people with knowledge about the company.

Every employee has an understanding of the company’s finances. Garcia defines five company growth stages so that every employee understands where the company is currently and where it is going. In the podcast, Garcia explains that part of being a start-up means sometimes you have to put in the extra work. Knowing the expectations at each stage of growth help employees maintain sight of the overall direction and being part of something.

Decisions on things such as company mission statement, purpose and values are made by consensus, so that everyone has a chance to input into the company, the communication, and the level of transparency. A recent company-wide decision was to stop short of sharing salaries- Garcia put it to the team, and the decision was made not to share. This decision, he explains, could change, as he looks into standardizing salaries and grading to fuel future growth.

The team that makes the decisions on profit sharing, open books, and practically everything is the Culture team. It’s comprised of team members- Wences isn’t even on it- that lead the future of the company and represent the views in quarterly reviews.

What’s unique about them is that they listen to their employees and make decisions based on their input. As Wences says, the reason they have open books is not that it’s currently trendy or because other SaaS companies are doing it. It’s because their team sat down and said – this is what we want to do.

Becoming Fully Remote

Part of the podcast shares a charming anecdote: as they were having their office in Madrid decorated, Wences’ wife asked him why he was investing in the office when only 3-4 people at a time were using it. He gave it some thought and decided to ditch the office altogether, and MarketGoo became a fully remote company.

Before this moment, Marketgoo was ‘remote-first,’ embracing team members in multiple locations. However, this shift to fully remote not only enabled some cost savings but forced them to invest more into this fully remote culture. Marketgoo embraced Slack, and OfficeVibe’s tool Leo (Slack-based), which helps them take care of measuring employee satisfaction, motivation, and engagement. Based on Leo’s confidential reports, they can identify a few recurring sentiments which they then address in person during company retreats. In the podcast, Garcia explains how the retreats have revolutionized his company and how employees connect.

Cultivate

Once a strong culture has been built, it doesn’t maintain itself without continually cultivating and building upon the positive elements of the team. Hiring for the right culture fit is essential, as is deliberately investing in connection.

Marketgoo has found that by going on semi-annual retreats and meeting up as a group at 2–3 times a year, their closeness grows and their work dynamic improves as well as their productivity. The initial goal for their company retreats was to review performance and plan for the next quarter– but as they gained more experience, they decided to switch to more of a team gathering and talk about strategy. Retreats serve as an obligatory vacation for most of the team but also a place to talk or address questions, concerns, or ideas to the group.

Big thanks to Wences Garcia for sharing the Marketgoo story with us!

To hear more inspirational stories on remote work, retreats and company culture, download SurfOffice’s podcast, ‘More beach meetings,’ and subscribe on iTunes or Spotify. After all, it’s free!

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