How to build a strong startup culture. 6 insights from Noel Pullen, Senior Director of Technology, Hootsuite

A manager has to deal with multiple responsibilities. Some of them are easy, while others, such as managing the team, motivating people, working with tight deadlines, can be tough even for those who have enough experience to tackle all this. But how do you prepare for such challenges? What’s the go-to strategy to build a proper startup/company culture? There’s for sure a long road to go and most of the times we have to learn by doing: however, Noel Pullen, Senior Director of Technology at Hootsuite, has shared with us some key insights learnt from his impressive experience.

Noel is responsible for Hootsuite’s technical culture and the well-being of those that design, build, and ship their products. He tries to encourage many experiments around people, so their technical culture evolves in a positive and participatory way.

As his unique role is tailored to the realities of a rapidly growing company, we asked him a couple of questions to find out some key insights about building teams and managing them to success. Here’s what we’ve got for you!

How do you prepare to be a good team leader?


Is it a good idea to be the best friend of your employees? Hanging out with them, knowing their problems, all their needs?


As a startup grows, many things change. Regarding company culture, how can a team switch from pizza for lunch and growing plants in their office’s balcony, just for the fun of it, to new departments, tight deadlines and rigorous policies? Does this have to change?

Yes, it does have to change but not necessarily in this way. Noel thinks that the startup founder should hold faithful to his beliefs in what makes an attractive work environment; otherwise, it becomes very tempting to copy other companies who we think are ‘doing it right because they’re bigger’.


How can you keep your employees consistently motivated and enthusiastic about their work as there are so many startups out there, bringing on the market “shiny” products, exciting technologies? How does one make its company’s technical culture always challenging?


How should we choose the personalities we need in our teams? Is it recommended to stick to principles as non-smokers, creative thinkers and others, things that don’t have a direct connection with people’s technical skills?


What is the fastest way to disappoint your people and how one can avoid it?


Noel has impressed the audience at this year’s How to Web Conference with a fantastic talk about building the company culture as a competitive advantage. Until the video with his keynote will go live, we hope this article was a good teaser for you to keep an eye on our blog and on our Facebook page.

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