Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.
When it comes to the most essential elements of any tech startup, a strong business plan and a decent idea are likely to top the list of priorities for most entrepreneurs.
Once the minimum viable product (MVP) stage has passed and you’re moving in the right direction, however, instilling your company with a sense of culture is quite important. Doing so can create a feeling of community and unified purpose, while making your startup more attractive to talent and investors. Most importantly, it can keep employees passionate and happy.
So where do you go to get some culture for your company? You can’t buy it outright, but the things you decide to treat your employees to and how you’ve decked out your workspace can leave a surprising impact on your business in the long run.
And so, we present to you, straight faced and with utmost seriousness, “From Nerf guns to Yoga: What you need to buy to look like a startup.”
Nothing says “screw corporate culture” like keeping toys in your office, and when it comes to startups, Nerf guns are nearly unavoidable. Startups like Blip.tv have taken this idea to a new level, and TechStar’s Thinkfuse has even offered free Nerf guns in exchange for interviews with developers.
If a nostalgic Nerf war sounds like fun to you, you’re going to want to check out the N-Strike Longshot CS-6. For the more reasonable of budgets, take a peek at the N-Strike Barricade RV-10.
From Reddit and Fueled to 99designs, owning a ping pong is a right of passage for many startups. According to Fueled, a “ping pong table is key. It fosters brainstorming sessions and is a great excuse to have a meeting.”
Alternatively, a basketball hoop (Grovo), trampoline (Artsicle) or a Fussball table (The Now Factory) are also fine options.
The BetaWorks team gets straight to the point: Fuck It, Ship it. Also, they have a Tardis. LiveNinja has taken on the saying as well (high-res download here). For more posters, Startup Vitamins has a noteworthy selection worth checking out.
Furry friends have long been welcomed into the laid-back workspaces of tech startups. Tumblr’s Tommy the Pomeranian is the perfect (famous) example of this phenomenon, and the social blogging service isn’t alone.
Epicurator has a BYOD (bring-your-own-dog) policy, and Barkbox, a Birchbox-like subscription service for pets, exemplifies the animal-friendly office.
When TNW visited the offices of Rokk3r, the team attended their weekly yoga class, delivered by celebrity teacher Rina, for whom they developed an app. Rokk3r managing director Nabyl Charania told us that “we want our work to be sustainable, and not have our staff burn out in three months. That’s the rationale behind our activities.”
Gaming…and a Kegerator
Thrillist knows how to wind down after a long work week, and for the growing media group, that means a game of Big Buck Hunter and a Kegerator. Thrillist went for an Edgestar Kegerator (sub $1k range), but if you’re feeling thrifty, you can actually hack together one yourself, if you have a mini fridge lying around.
Of course, when it comes to startups, gaming doesn’t stop at Big Buck Hunter. WeWork Labs NY packs a nicely sized arcade and gaming setup, too — its most recent addition is a vintage Sega Genesis.
In-house gourmet food is a fairly common offering among larger tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc), but when it comes to smaller startups, snacks are king.
From Foursquare’s supply of KIND Bars to Fueled’s overflowing snack bar (shown above), a horde of snacks is great way to cut down on random trips out of the building, while keeping energy high.
Startups famously trade stale cubicle walls for open workspaces with long, community-style desks and hip furniture. Not every company is able to pull off a beautiful aesthetic, but we’ve highlighted countless startups in Amsterdam, Miami, New York and Berlin with great, yet quirky taste. Fancy Hands is a perfect example of this.
If you’re having trouble decorating your bare walls, you might want to check out art subscription service Artsicle. For more inspiration, check out Airbnb’s London office (absolutely gorgeous). We’re not sure if clear toilets count as decor, though.
Heading to Amazon.com with credit card in hand may not be the best strategy here, but observing what other startups are up to is the fastest way to catch on to trends and compare yourself to successful companies.
If you’re looking to run a significantly tamer office, then by all means, embrace that philosophy to its fullest. Go with your gut and build your own culture for your company.
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