Blog ยป Wiki ยป Team Culture Team Culture

By Lane Wagner on Jun 12, 2023

  • Our mission statement: To make learning backend engineering skills as fun and simple as it can be.
  • Our vision statement? We don’t have one because they’re a bit dumb.

What values inform our culture? ๐Ÿ”—

Integrity? Honesty? Excellence? Teamwork? Barf.

Companies with corporate truisms as “values” don’t actually have values. It’s not a value unless you’re willing to sacrifice some other good thing to uphold it. Here are some specific things we do care about:

  • We work harder, we care more
  • We want you here for at least 5-10 years
  • Mediocre teams don’t build great stuff
  • Work-life integration, not work-life balance
  • Aptitude, passion, then experience
  • Culture isn’t ping pong tables and free snacks
  • Quantity is the enemy of quality
  • Perfect is the enemy of done
  • Big teams are not impressive

We work harder, we care more ๐Ÿ”—

There seems to be an exponential nature to “results” where working 10% harder often yields 50% better results, and working 20% harder often yields 100% better results. It makes sense when you think about it, most organizations are filled with people doing an “average” amount of work, and who care an “average” amount. If we work 20% harder, and care 20% more, we can easily be in the top 10% of organizations.

Sometimes we assume that everyone puts in the same ~8 hours of work each day, in reality, some people work much harder than others.

We want you here for at least 5-10 years ๐Ÿ”—

There’s high turnover in tech companies. Employees stay at companies for 1-3 years, then find a shiny new position with a 20% raise. Our goal is to keep you here for 5-10 years. We believe your value to the team increases exponentially over time, and we want to invest in you. That means we do everything we can to make sure:

  • You love what we’re working on
  • You love who you’re working with
  • You are challenged and growing
  • You are compensated well and rewarded when the team succeeds

Mediocre teams don’t build great stuff ๐Ÿ”—

We want great people. That doesn’t mean experienced people, people with a fancy degree, or people who have worked at a FAANG company. It means people who are smart, hard-working, and who care about what we’re doing. If we don’t have a world-class team, how can we build a world-class learning experience that people love?

Work-life integration, not work-life balance ๐Ÿ”—

Work-life balance is often thought of as the ability to put away your laptop at 5PM and not think about work until 8AM the next day. The ability to take a week-long vacation each year. Separating work and life.

That might work for some people, but I prefer a healthy work-life integration.

At we have unlimited PTO. We have flexible hours. We have flexible work locations. You’re measured as a teammate on your inputs and your outputs. Here are some examples:

  • Hate mornings? No problem, start at 10AM! You’ll need to pick up the slack in the evenings, but that’s fine.
  • Feeling unproductive? Go take a walk, grab some lunch, do some shopping. Organize your schedule so that when you are working you’re getting stuff done.
  • Crushed 5 bugs today and now you’re exhausted? Sign off at 2PM and go enjoy the rest of your day.
  • Haven’t shipped anything useful in a week? Spend some extra time this weekend. Small companies need everyone to make real progress to survive.

Aptitude, passion, then experience ๐Ÿ”—

We care about these things, in this order:

  1. Aptitude
  2. Passion & ambition
  3. Experience & skills

The easiest thing to correct for is a lack of skills. The best people can pick up new skills. They’re relentless. They don’t throw up their hands and say “I don’t know how to do that”, they go learn how to do it, or find people who can help them.

On the contrary, if we don’t have smart, hard-working people, that’s hard to fix. Similarly, it’s hard (but not impossible) to get yourself to be excited about coding education if you’re not already, so it’s best to just start with people who love what we’re doing.

Culture isn’t ping pong tables and free snacks ๐Ÿ”—

Ping-pong tables and free snacks are awesome, but they don’t define a company’s culture. We eat free as a team together. We play video games together. We go on retreats together. We have a ton of fun, but those are some of our benefits, not what defines our culture.

Our culture is defined by how we work together to make our mission a success, and how we hold each other accountable to our goals. Great people want to be challenged and build something remarkable. Our culture is defined by the people we hire, not the perks we offer.

Quantity is the enemy of quality ๐Ÿ”—

We’re much more concerned about quality than quantity. It would be impossible to compete with YouTube on the amount of programming videos we can produce. Instead, we’re building the best possible experience for learning backend engineering skills, not the largest repository of knowledge.

Perfect is the enemy of done ๐Ÿ”—

We ship often, and occasionally we ship a bug, but we measure how long it takes to ship a bug fix in hours not weeks. We launch new features as MVPs. The meat is there, it works, and it improves the product, but not every additional bell and whistle is tacked on. We iterate quickly and kill our darlings.

Big teams are not impressive ๐Ÿ”—

Many startups are tempted to hire as many people as quickly as they can. It’s a vanity metric of sorts - when people ask about your company, one of the first questions they ask is “How many employees?”. It feels good to be able to brag about the size of your team, but it has almost nothing to do with your success.

We’re much more concerned about the metric that matters: how much work we can get done despite having a smaller team. I’m always surprised by two seemingly contradictory things:

  • How much work a small team can get done
  • How little work a large team can get done