Creating a healthy company culture at a gaming startup - Ron Kerbs, CEO of Kidas
Today’s guest post is by Ron Kerbs, founder and CEO of Kidas. Ron has a decade of experience in leading technology teams and investing in early-stage startups.
I was listening to Kara Swisher’s Sway, just before Microsoft’s acquisition of gaming giant Activision-Blizzard, where guest Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Head of Gaming was asked about Activision-Blizzard and the culture of the gaming space. Phil explained that he was saddened by “workplace environments that cause such distress and destruction of individuals and teams.” This was an important statement, and it’s essential that Microsoft and other gaming giants push to solve this issue.
I grew up gaming and loved it, and I truly believe we must do everything in our power to make gaming safe. This is why I founded Kidas. Kidas removes the toxicity from gaming, and leaves parents and children free to play in a safe environment. We bring the technology and resources to stop abuse and harassment without interrupting the gaming experience.
Creating a company gaming culture based on trust
Startups and startup life can be really busy. In a small team, everyone needs to do everything, but one of our top priorities is to make sure we don’t burn out. When I started the company, building a culture of gaming that is safe, protected, and stands on a foundation of trust and respect was essential. Here are some tools that have helped us do this.
Bridging the cultural divide
As an Israeli-American company, we needed to work on managing the culture and cultural expectations between our US and Israeli teams. It took a while for people to get to know each other and learn how to communicate. At the start, I was the bridge between the Israeli and American team members but today we mostly feel comfortable with each other, and if we don’t, we say so. We do a lot of one-on-one sessions within the team. A lot of young startups don’t do this and just run forward, but I make sure to have a personal and professional growth-focused one-on-one with each team member once a month. In these meetings, we forget about Kidas tasks for 30 minutes and focus only on the team member's personal and professional development.
Encouraging our team to deeply understand users
Unsurprisingly, we are very gaming orientated. Knowing our users is not just a question of carrying out customer interviews and talking with parents and children, we also need to experience what they do. We encourage gaming with a weekly happy hour and communicate via Discord, behaving as our users do. We know and understand firsthand what children experience.
Prioritizing core tasks is key
We have a company tradition of a weekly “Big Rocks” meeting where we discuss everyone’s “big rock” priority for the week. This is a tool we learned from Techstars. It’s easy to get caught up in a million different small tasks, but if we focus on what’s most important, I believe we can move forward without burnout.