The foundation of the TaskRabbit office culture? We break bread together.

When Your Employees Thrive, So Does Your Business

The foundation of the TaskRabbit office culture? We break bread together.

In her last Huffington Post column, Leah came out strong in favor of company culture. She quickly debunked the myth that a positive company culture can continue to grow organically over time, and underscored the role of culture in everything from recruiting to marketing. This is a favorite topic of our illustrious founder and CEO, so it didn’t surprise us to see her dive even deeper into culture last week in her latest column. In “When Your Employees Thrive, So Does Your Business,” Leah trumpets the importance of creating the kind of working environment that makes employees happy, productive, and creative. Here’s a quick look:

As founder and CEO of an early stage tech startup, I get to decide exactly what our office is like. From the SOMA location within a short stroll of some of San Francisco’s best restaurants to the color of the walls (neon green, bright blue, and stark white), I get to help design the space where we work and play and grow. It’s a luxury most people will never have, one that I don’t take for granted. As any HGTV enthusiast could tell you, the process of designing a workspace from scratch is exciting, but as a founder I know it’s more than that. This is the home base that will take TaskRabbit to the next level, a place that will see successes and struggles, frustration and triumph, and new bonds formed between members of a rapidly growing team. The right environment lifts teams up and helps them thrive, it’s way more than fancy paint and ping-pong tables.

When I first set out to help forge the TaskRabbit culture, I identified three primary objectives:
1. Develop prime conditions to attract amazing talent and help them thrive.
2. Encourage a symbiotic relationship between culture and brand.
3. Create the kind of office I want to come to every single day.

So how do we go about satisfying these objectives at TaskRabbit? Sure, we have our ping-pong tables, Nerf guns, and video games, but that’s just the start. There are a myriad of constantly evolving factors that contribute to our office culture. One of the most central? Food. When we were a smaller team, we made sure everyone cleared their schedules for a family-style lunch. These days, it’s not always possible for our 50+ team members to eat together, but we’ve added plenty of communal tables so smaller groups can dine together. Our two kitchens are always stocked with tasty things (from seaweed snacks to string cheese, and yes — the obligatory baby carrots), Philz coffee (an office favorite), and plenty of booze. Many small business owners fear the effects of alcohol in the office (a belief which usually leads directly to some really out-of-control holiday parties), but we know better. We’re a tight-knit team that works long hours, and we cherish our happy hours so much that we installed a kegerator. Read the rest at the Huffington Post.

 

Is this the secret to a great company culture?

Does Company Culture Matter? Yup.

Is this the secret to a great company culture?

The culture of TaskRabbit is pretty distinct, in fact — it’s downright enviable. Like many startups, we’ve got ping-pong tables, Nerf guns, and bean bag chairs to spare. We’ve also got an office full of puppies, a TaskRabbit yoga instructor twice a week, and a kegerator. We work in an enormous SOMA loft in a big, open space designed for collaboration. If we want privacy, we grab one of the brainstorming rooms. Oh, and there’s even a bacon platter on Fridays.

Our working environment reflects our cultural values. Collaboration, great humor, puppies… it’s also the foundation of everything we build as a company. That’s why we were thrilled (but not surprised) to read Leah’s latest Huffington Post column on why small business owners should care about company culture. Here’s an excerpt:

It seems like those of us who run a business can’t go five minutes without encountering the term “company culture.” The phrase is always uttered with extreme adoration, yet the very concept seems as nebulous as it is elusive. I could use this column to chime in with my two cents about how to build an awesome culture, but I’d rather use it to tell you why I think investing in culture is worth it in the first place. Frankly, all this culture stuff can be pretty daunting for a busy entrepreneur. Since most startups operate at a break-neck pace, with a concept to prove or a product to launch within a rapidly shortening runway of financing, company culture often gets shoved aside. This is a big, big mistake: Nobody serious about their business should put culture in the corner.

Startups need to focus on building a foundation for their company culture early, and then they need to revisit it often. Every time a hire is made, a feature is launched, a Facebook status is updated, a press interview is given, a round of financing is raised, or a meeting is held, culture should be part of the decision-making process. Startups should think of culture like breathing — pretend your company can’t live without it, and chances are, it can’t.

TaskRabbit Ambassador Erika (left) and the evening's panelists.

The Very First TaskRabbit Town Hall

TaskRabbit Ambassador Erika (left) and the evening's panelists.

Last night, dozens of TaskRabbits descended upon NextSpace in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood for the very first TaskRabbit Town Hall. TaskRabbits mingled with each other, nibbled on a catered spread from Bi-Rite Market, and brainstormed ideas about running Tasks at stations throughout the room.

All TaskRabbits in attendance, like panelist John L., walked away with fresh swag.

The TaskRabbits in attendance gathered in a circle for the night’s discussion. TaskRabbit Ambassador Erika Murdock Balbuena welcomed everyone, and began the evening by debuting The TaskRabbit Credo. The Credo is a living document encompassing the spirit and ethos of the micro-entrepreneurs that make up the TaskRabbit Community. You can read the entire thing here.

The evening’s panel introduced themselves by sharing their favorite Task stories. Holly C., a level 11 TaskRabbit, said her most memorable Task was doing a Costco run for a blind woman. “It made me realize that this is a significant thing we’re doing for people.” Level 14 TaskRabbit Kim E. loved delivering a Thank You card for an applicant to the TaskRabbit team who was later hired. John L., a level 12 TaskRabbit, shared the story of a friendship that developed between him and a senior TaskPoster during the course of completing her Task. Level 9 TaskRabbit Nick C. regaled the room with the story of working a Persian New Year’s party on a rooftop. The evening was a stormy one, and the clouds parted just as the belly dancers began their performance.

Daniel R. won the night's raffle prize — a spiffy new TaskRabbit track jacket.

The discussion was led by the panelists but included everyone in attendance. TaskRabbits took the opportunity to share their personal tips on running Tasks, bidding well, staying safe, and leveling up. The night showcased everything we love about the awesome and friendly Bay Area TaskRabbits. It was a group of micro-entrepreneurs gathering to collaborate on best practices to enrich the broader community. We can’t wait until the next one!

The TaskRabbit Credo

Our mission is to connect busy people with entrepreneurs who can help them get things done. In the process, we’re bringing back that old time neighborhood spirit. In celebration of these incredible entrepreneurs who are the heroes of the TaskRabbit community, we’re thrilled to introduce the TaskRabbit Credo. This statement is a living document that reflects the spirit and mission of what it is to be a TaskRabbit.

The TaskRabbit Credo

We’re entrepreneurs. We decide when we want to work and how much we want to bid for each Task.

We master every single Task because we love to make TaskPosters say “wow.” If things go wrong, we make them right.

We’re awesome communicators because being that way makes every Task better. We know how to listen and ask the right questions, and TaskPosters love us for it.

We think creatively to solve little problems before they become big problems.

We’re trustworthy, not just because we’ve been vetted through formal channels, but because we’re dedicated professionals on a mission.

We’re part of the movement working toward building a more collaborative economy.

We’re friendly neighbors, and we’re working hard to bring back that neighborhood spirit to our communities.

We have the right to safe Tasking environments, respectful interactions with TaskPosters, and support from TaskRabbit Member Services.

There are thousands of stories in the TaskRabbit community and we’re the heroes of them all.

Here's the point: TaskRabbits can make your style dreams come true.

Task of the Week: Sew Me This

Here's the point: TaskRabbits can make your style dreams come true.

We’ve seen plenty of Tasks posted for basic clothing repair and alterations. There’ve also been many seamstress Tasks about curtains: making them, shortening them, splitting one panel into two. Yep, the TaskPoster community has long tapped into the sewing talent of their TaskRabbit neighbors, but lately we’re seeing an evolution of sorts. TaskPosters like Michelle F. are finding inspiration — like this gorgeous (but sold-out) tutu-esque skirt from Shabby Apple she spotted on Pinterest — and hiring crafty TaskRabbits to sew similar pieces with personal touches from scratch. Boston TaskRabbit Jennifer R. tackled Michelle’s tutu with style and grace (just like a ballerina). Likewise, TaskPoster Alfred M. was impressed by a jacket with LED turn signals sewn into the back for biking, so he hired Sarah W. to build a T-shirt that functioned in the same way. Knowing that so many TaskRabbits are masters of needles and thread gives way to endless possibilities: Imagine, every time we see some covetable piece of clothing on a blog, in a magazine, or gracing our favorite Pinboards we can personalize it and make it ours.

Introducing TaskRabbit Ambassador Erika Murdock Balbuena

Bringing back that old time neighborhood spirit is easy when there are good neighbors involved. We’re lucky to have a whole army of them in the form of friendly, talented, and entrepreneurial TaskRabbits. Every day, TaskRabbits in cities around the country put smiles on faces, scratch errands off To-Do lists, and save the day for busy people right in their own communities.

Supporting TaskRabbits in every way possible is a top priority for us, which is why we’re thrilled to welcome Erika Murdock Balbuena to the team as our new TaskRabbit Ambassador. Say hi, Erika:

Collaborative consumption companies help small businesses set up shop.

How the Sharing Economy is Helping Small Businesses Thrive

Collaborative consumption companies help small businesses set up shop.

Businesses within the sharing economy help busy people live more efficiently while supporting micro-entrepreneurs. But did you know they can also help small business owners set up shop, struggle through the lean times, scale their companies, and even improve their product offerings? Leah’s latest column in The Huffington Post is about just that. Here’s a look:

When a person decides to open up a brick-and-mortar business, push “go” on a startup concept, or venture in any other way into full-fledged business ownership, a lot of questions pop up. Questions about money, product viability, staffing, working space, equipment costs, and about whether their company will be welcomed into the market. One question in particular overshadows the excitement of having a great business idea: Is it worth the risk?

I’ve witnessed case study after case study of the sharing economy taking this risk off the table for small business founders, and let me tell you: I’m inspired. There used to be only a few inconvenient answers to the question, “How will I finance this?” A founder could get a small business loan from a bank, something that’s now so rare it’s akin to stumbling upon a unicorn at your local Starbucks. She might be lucky enough to find a willing investor or beg a personal loan from friends and family, but these options aren’t available to everyone, particularly on the heels of a recession. She could finance it herself, cash in a 401(k) plan or drain a savings account, but in this economy she may have already used any spare funds to make ends meet. Alternately, if this fledgeling founder is hip to the collaborative consumption movement, she could activate her existing idle resources to generate some startup funds and pare down or offset her living expenses during those first lean years. That’s exactly what Jamie Wong of Vayable did. Jamie boot-strapped her collaborative consumption business by renting her spare room out on Airbnb and participating in car sharing programs to save money. Now that’s walking the walk. Read the entire column here.

If you own a business, dream of starting one, or simply want to know how lean companies from cupcake shops to gaming startups are leveraging the sharing economy, this one’s worth the read.