3 August 2018 Courier Weekly

Startup culture is scaring employees

PLUS: Payroll – #Burnberry – Diversity at work – Silicon Valley lunches

Can employees handle startup culture?

It’s no secret that competition for tech talent is fierce in London. However, the oft-stated reasons (Brexit, skills shortages) may not be the most pressing concerns for startup founders.

A recent survey of 100 London tech founders by Studio Graphene – an agency that builds digital products for startups – showed that founders are actually much more concerned about whether or not staff are up to the task of working for a startup.

Almost 39% said this was their biggest challenge when hiring in London. The next highest concern was luring talent from big corporates (who usually pay better wages). Immigration and visa concerns were only flagged by 10% of founders.

‘More people see the cultural side as a bigger challenge than even being able to attract tech talent,’ says Studio Graphene’s founder, Ritam Gandhi. ‘There’s a huge subset of startup founders that are ex-corporate. They’ll reach out to ex-colleagues and there’s a huge challenge [in getting them to adjust to the culture].’

In the latest issue of Courier – out next week – HR expert Sophie Theen discusses the personality types best suited to high-growth startups, and how to identify them.

Payroll gets an update

A boring but essential business task – running payroll – is getting an update.

This week, US-based company Gusto (which provides payroll and other HR services to small businesses) raised £107m to help push it towards profitability. The latest raise puts the company’s valuation at £1.5bn, and there are rumours of an IPO on the cards.

Meanwhile, this article discusses the benefits (and limitations) of payment platforms such as Instant Financial and Daily Pay for managing wages for workers on hourly contracts.

Thredup’s open letter to Burberry

Last week’s news that Burberry incinerated almost £30m of inventory has naturally been used by a San Francisco startup as a PR opportunity. Thredup tweeted an open letter to the luxury retailer, proposing that it could sell Burberry’s unsold stock, giving all proceeds to charity. Thredup says it’s the largest second-hand online store in the world, operating primarily via a consumer-to-consumer exchange model.

Circular fashion think tanks such as the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation are encouraging brands to engage in more sustainable practices. Meanwhile, several young businesses in the circular fashion market have caught Courier’s eye:

  • Subscription-based Rent the Runway, founded in 2009, has led the way in terms of introducing consumers to the idea of ‘wardrobe leasing’.
  • Vigga is a Danish subscription business for childrenswear, which allows members to return items for redistribution to others.
  • Irish startup Nu Wardrobe has announced it will launch in London next month. The business facilitates clothing exchange and borrowing through events and pop-ups.

‘It’s not an oppression Olympics’

News site Quartz, women’s network Ada’s List and co-working space Blooms teamed up this week to run an event on equality in the workplace. Its aim: to share learnings from people’s experiences as women navigating their careers and taking on positions of leadership, and build a supportive community off the back of it.

Common stereotypes that women in the room had faced in the workplace included:

  • The woman as domestic help – being expected to clean up or take on a caring role in the office, regardless of experience or seniority.
  • The ‘bossy’ or ‘bitchy’ woman – being made to feel uncomfortable for calling things out, or expressing a strong opinion.
  • An expectation to conform to racial stereotypes – such as the quiet Asian woman, or the strong black woman.

Quartz’s How We’ll Win series is tackling issues of gender equality over the course of a year – next it will look at female founders, something we explored in depth earlier this year.

Silicon Valley’s lunchtime stranglehold

From Facebook’s free canteen to Google’s hand-rolled sushi, tech company headquarters have become some of the best places to get lunch in Silicon Valley.

The problem is it’s hurting the local businesses in the area which rely on the lunchtime trade to keep their ventures afloat.

State lawmakers have responded by placing a ban on offices offering staff free lunches, and staff will now have to venture outside of the tech bubble to get something to eat. Considering that Google allows its staff to bring friends in for lunch at the work canteen instead of going out, getting out more can only be a good thing for them.


Five things that caught our eye this week