I get asked a lot when interviewing candidates about the early days of Operations at Experience and how things have changed from a cultural perspective. The ways we go about the business – new customer on-boarding, seamless event execution, best practice consulting – have changed over time, but the backbone of the culture and our philosophy to doing business have remained the same. Here’s some insight into our unique start and the hustle, learn, improve culture that continues to power us today.
1. Define and create the culture you want
Before Experience, personalizing the fan experience really didn’t exist. We had to figure out how to get our products to fans, no matter how unconventional the method. Take our start in 2012 with the LA Clippers as an example. Our typical game day looked like this:
We ran to a local Kinkos the morning of a game to print flyers that we would pass out to fans. The goal was to raise awareness so fans knew that they could upgrade from their nosebleed seats to lower level seats, hopefully without scaring them away in the process. After the hand-to-hand guerilla marketing ended at tipoff, we’d hustle back to our makeshift “office” (Staples center folding table) to load a seat inventory file into our database so that we could sell the seat upgrades. I still break out in a cold sweat thinking about how close we cut it at times. At halftime, we’d debrief with our contacts at the Clippers and hopefully convey to them just how cool it was that fans trusted our technology enough to transact. We’d pack up and head back to the hotel, voraciously consume the data late into the night and do it all again the next game. We were dead set on improving on the previous game’s result.
It might not have been entirely evident to us at the time, but this approach would help to establish the foundation for the culture that still exists today.
Our very first operational goal was just to figure out – can we actually be outside of the arena, in our own office building to sell seat upgrades at an event? We had no idea how we could at the time, but that was our cause, and we loved every minute of that particular challenge and the others that followed. Now, we’re operating at about 40 events a day across five time zones. With nearly 17,000 events under our belts, it’s somewhat comical to think back to the stress about just getting “out of the arena” and working from a real office. We’ve come a long way, and I wouldn’t trade the early stages, the most enriching period of my career, for anything because that’s exactly how great startups begin. You hustle, you roll up your sleeves, you learn with vigor, and then do everything you can to constantly improve the product and service. And most importantly, you have a blast doing it.
2. Find people willing to grow with you
With over 300 live event properties, we have to operationalize technology at live events every single day of the year. So preparing for and achieving new levels of scale are our constant focus. The way we ensured this would happen at Experience was by hiring the right people who would buy into our hustle mentality. Early on, we wanted to bring on folks whose professional experience exceeded their initial role within our company. We weren’t interested in people making lateral moves in their career. We made a bet that if really smart individuals were willing to make that leap, then they truly believed in the vision and were coming to us with no ego. They would be just the type of person that we wanted to join in rolling up our sleeves and solving problems.
We gave those individuals who took a chance on us the freedom to create and celebrated small wins like we were winning championships.
Those smart people then hired their fellow team members in the same way and elevated within the company as we grew. And so, we built the “hustle” mentality into every new hire.
3. Cultivate the culture that’s essential
An excellent case in point is how we manage fan support. We initiated a company-wide fan support model, meaning every single one of the 50+ people in the company, from our President to the newest hire, is responsible for answering fan issues in real-time. What started out as a process driven by necessity, is now a fantastic way to stay close to the fans, provide a real and genuine voice to our service, and discover new ways to improve the product that we may not have ever thought of otherwise. The very best of our “roll up your sleeves” culture is most noticeable during support. On busy nights, fellow Experience team members readily jump in to assist the person on duty. Whenever someone does not know how to answer a fan immediately, it is expected and encouraged for other Experience team members to help resolve the support request.
At the core of our culture, we work together in support of our fans, but also in support of one another.
We’ve been very fortunate as a company to have accomplished some big things in a relatively short period – from giving millions of fans access to live event personalization to having technology that’s twice been recognized by the Sports Business Awards. I can’t wait to keep rolling up my sleeves with the folks here at Experience. It makes it easy to battle Atlanta traffic every day as I head into work. Sure beats starting my day at Kinkos.
If you think you’d fit in well here at Experience, please always keep an eye out for any current job postings on our website.