8 Must Have Practices A Startup Culture Should Have!

Startups are booming in India, the landscape is filled with entrepreneurs and company founders who are set to change India’s destiny. All of them are busy trying to solve some problem through an app, interactive website or even an eCommerce portal. For a very long time US was considered as land of opportunities. But today modern India has become its equivalent. India, it seems is set to one day overshadow Silicon Valley considering the vast pool of talent that exists in our country.

Infact, India is set to overtake China as the fastest growing emerging economy in 2015-16 by clocking a growth rate of 7.5 percent, as ET reports. Startups are set to play an important role in the next decade as India aspires to play a key role in major world markets.

A company’s culture often defines its growth path. The same holds true for any startup which sets out to solve a key problem. It is therefore extremely important for a company to have clearly defined cultural values as it sets out to reach its goal.

After talking to many startups (50+) and well known companies (which once were startups) about their work culture and necessary practices that they follow, iamWire has shortlisted 8 key practices (which were repeated and got the highest votes – were eventually selected) that a startup should have:

Lean Structure

A day in startups life is full of uncertainties and often tactical decision making gets extremely complicated. Most decisions require to be taken and implemented quickly. A hierarchical structure often prolongs the permission process which results in delay and output failures. All strategic decisions should be taken by the founders and board members but some sense of ownership should be given to the employees. Empowering employees will inculcate a sense of ownership.

Founders = Culture

In a startup, the founders define its culture. They are the main and important source of picking up the right behaviour for the company. Vipul Parekh of BigBasket said, “Founders need to drive the right behaviours by demonstrating what they are and by the type of people they recruit and the practices they reward.”

Empower your People

Employees need to feel empowered to do their best work. They need to know that their ideas and opinions matter, that they can make a difference and have massive impact. Saurabh Sengupta, Senior Vice President, Recruitments, Zomato, says, “It is no good to hire the best people, if you are not enabling them to rise and exceed their potential. We make sure that people own projects at Zomato and take decisions. Once you’ve shipped something on your own you begin to appreciate the value of ownership. We strongly believe in what a Google executive once said: “If you give people freedom, they will amaze you.”


Oxford defines Camaraderie as ‘mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together’. Bonding is what makes the environment productive especially in Startups. The people working in startups  are few and therefore it is important for them to share a healthy close knit relation so as to make the environment healthy and productive. This will again result in fostering a sense of belonging in the employees.

Customer First

For any company be it a startup or an MNC, customer stands first. Therefore it is very much important for startups to focus on their customers and their requirements so as to enhance their product to suit their needs. Ultimately every effort that a company makes is to retain its present and acquire more customers base. “We firmly believe that customers will shop on only until the very moment they find a better experience elsewhere. Hence all that we do is aimed at the single goal of delivering a great customer experience,” said Amit Agarwal, VP & Country Manager, Amazon India.


Invention is the key to growth. Whatever might be a startup’s product, invention is the core to its development and growth. It breaks the monotony and also helps upgrade the service of any company. “If you look at our twenty-year history closely, you will find that we have never shied away from taking bold risks and inventing things on behalf of our customers. Kindle is a great example that readily comes to my mind,” said Amit Agarwal, VP & Country Manager, Amazon India.

Challenge the Team

Saurabh Sengupta, Senior Vice President, Recruitments, Zomato,  feels that talented people love to push themselves because they are inherently motivated by meeting and exceeding challenges. He further says, “Whether it is the feeling of accomplishment on completing a challenge or learning a new skill, we think it is essential that as an employer we provide an environment that encourages people to take on new challenges that take them out of their comfort zone. We define success metrics clearly at Zomato. So everyone knows whether they won or lost every day, week and month of the year on any project.”

Communicate Intensively with New Joinees

Vipul Parekh, Co-Founder of BigBasket believes that founders need to keep time aside to speak to new joinees in the system. They need to explain the culture of the company with detailed examples as this will help in setting up the framework early on.

Communication is essential also because it helps the company employees to put forth their views and ideas freely. This will also motivate and align them with the vision and mission of the organization.

However, all the aforementioned startup culture practices are not the only ones. There are many more which might be specific to the organisation. Some other interesting cultural  practices that we came across are – conducting team activities to help grow team bonding, be yourself- not mimic other organisation’s culture practices, patience – to help succeed in company’s respective endeavours, live your vision, hire people who are better than you and many more.

The list is endless, but what essentially matters is the idea and the vigour that the company founders and employees share in common. Knowing what one wants in life and being true to oneself and the endeavour he/she is working upon, can surely get the person onto the path of success and growth.

In my personal opinion, hunger for knowledge and learning is what helps a person grow on an individual level. If one is willing to take on new projects then the person will very much cater to maximum of the above mentioned practices.

If you feel you have something to add over here, just drop in your views in the comments below or write to me at

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