A global software company didn't have job titles until it hit 50 employees. Here's how the CEO grew the business and built a management structure while maintaining its startup culture.
- Visual presentation platform Prezi has grown from seven employees to more than 330 over the course of 10 years.
- But cofounder and CEO Peter Arvai only introduced manager titles and an organisational chart when the employee headcount reached 120.
- By carefully scaling and diversifying his international offices, the company doubled its audience base to over 100 million registered users, R1 billion of total funding, and a valuation of more than R4,2 billion.
- In an interview with Business Insider, Arvai said that establishing personal relationships with his workforce and empowering his employees through diversification helped him make corporate transitions more easily.
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Over the course of 10 years, visual presentation platform Prezi has grown from seven employees to more than 330 and is now valued at more than R4,2 billion, according to Pitchbook data. But when the company started out in 2009, no one had a job title.
Like many startups, early employees at Prezi were often asked to do several jobs at once.
As the company grew, Peter Arvai, cofounder and CEO of Prezi, wanted to maintain the collaborative startup environment. "So we introduced cross-functional teams where engineers and designers can all work together," he said.
Arvai told Business Insider every company needs an effective way to communicate and it was essential for him to structure Prezi in a way that made the most sense for the team.
Prezi has doubled its audience to more than 100 million users in four years. The company continues to brainstorm interactive communicative tools to help accommodate the rising trend of remote work, Arvai said.
Prezi, which is based in San Francisco, established its second office when it reached 15 employees. The company created assigned job functions when it reached 50 workers, adopted specific software development processes at 60 employees, and brought in C-suite executives and an organizational chart when they reached 120 workers. Now, the 10-year-old startup has four offices worldwide, and Arvai said he's still figuring it out as he goes.
When scaling your company, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But Arvai told Business Insider how he puts his team through constant restructuring without causing a disruption.
Building a culture of trust
Vulnerability is encouraged at Prezi. Every month, Arvai invites an employee out for what he calls a "dream lunch," where they discuss aspirations and career goals. During that time, he helps brainstorm ways for them to achieve that goal, whether it be big or small.
Arvai's check-ins with his workforce are a way retain top talent at the company and remind employees that everyone's voice is still heard even in a larger setting. Though it is difficult to keep workers happy through company transitions, bonding with employees on a more personal level allows them to voice their opinions but also understand that a leader can make mistakes too.
"If you show them the human connection, people usually understand that change is necessary even though they know that it's hard," he said.
During the early funding stages of the now 10-year-old startup, employees were taking on many different tasks and collaborating across teams, Arvai said.
One of the reasons why nearly half of employees at mid-sized tech companies quit is due to an evolved job role, a recent Namely report surveying 1,200 firms found. This means if employees feel they are doing a job they initially weren't hired to do, they may walk out the door.
One way Arvai combated this was by introducing cross-functional teams to better split the workload. Now, the work environment remains collaborative, but everyone has designated roles. As his company expanded to international offices located in Budapest, Hungary, San Francisco, and California, he also invested in a specialized inter-communications team to improve workflow because of the nine-hour time difference.
With only a few overlapping hours for video conferences, the intercommunications team is responsible for ensuring the US offices are maximizing productivity while the European offices are offline, making meetings more efficient.
But Arvai's vision for Prezi is ever evolving. Whether it be running a manager-less Holacracy or functioning on hierarchical teams, he remains fluid and molds his leadership accordingly.
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