DRVR is a IoT Startup based in Bangkok. We are made up of a very diverse team coming from Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France, Australia, Thailand, Burmese and Singapore. Also, our team is not limited to humans. We have furry cats (and newborn kittens) in the office and staffs are more than welcome to bring other pets to work. Our cats — Clinton and Obama help to diffuse stress and are fun to have around.
At DRVR, we have a core team of 12 with 3–4 interns entering at one period of time. To think that last year (June 2016) we had 6 people in our team, and June 2015, we were a 3 men team. Our strength have multiplied significantly. How does the company culture transform at DRVR as we grow and how are decisions made in the startup world?
Damien, our CFO has taken the time to draft guidelines and policies which are in place to support our awesome diverse culture. As our company grows, it becomes more important to have these guidelines to demonstrate fairness and consistency. We also have an expenses and delegation policy. Nothing odd about this you say? What’s different is that the policy is crafted to support our decision making framework. How can you make a decision to do something without at least some level of financial responsibility?
At DRVR, we have an Office based in Bangkok and informal arrangements such as working remotely can be negotiated. There is no fixed working hour or work attire in the office. In fact, we encourage our staff to work outside the office. We give staff the means an opportunity to do so as well. All of our permanent staff are entitled to an Air Asia Travel Pass which allows unlimited travel across ASEAN. Why to do we do this?
One of the intangible benefits of living in SouthEast Asia and working for DRVR is the opportunity to travel and explore this amazingly culturally rich part of the world. To experience and understand SE Asia through a deeper personal connection, makes you a more informed and understanding global citizen, as well as a better DRVR employee.”
- David Henderson, CEO and Co-Founder
“Bangkok is an amazing city to live and work in. The energy is through the roof and the level of innovation in the startup ecosystem is fantastic. One of the best things though is the food. Thailand has my absolute favorite food in Asia, it’s light, healthy and just full of fantastic flavors.“
-Kirill Bulatsev, UX Team Lead
The other way that we empower our staff is through building a framework for decision making
“We have to acknowledge that all of us make “wrong” decisions. We have all made them in the past & we will all make them in the future. Making the “right” decision is being as informed as you can at the point a decision is being made. Part of being “informed” is balancing the amount of data you have, alongside with the risk associated with a wrong decision and the time you have available to make the decision.”
The decision making process comes about in two steps:
- Determine and decide WHO should make the decision
- That person is then empowered to decide WHAT the decision is
Thailand Startup culture
Conversely, many Thai companies and even startups still remains outdated with Nationalism and stay stagnant with the backwards way of thinking. This article is Thai Tattler gives you an idea:
This message seems to be targeted at a quite narrow base evident by Thai male entrepreneurs featured in the article, also clearly excluding women in that group. We look forward to the opening of a more progressive and inclusive era in the near future.
Mirroring the culture of a Thai society, Thai companies are very hierarchical — in which the boss makes all of the decisions. This takes responsibility out of the hands of individuals and does not empower people to be part of a knowledge society. At DRVR, we encourage people to take responsibility for their own work. Everyone makes bad calls — including me as the CEO!
How does DRVR fare as a startup
In considerably traditional cultures (like Thailand and Myanmar), the boss is always right. However, in DRVR, we uphold a high level of internal democracy and acknowledge a culture of meritocracy, presented by a result of hard work and effort. We congratulate Max who has recently been promoted to a Senior Software Developer. Max has earned the promotion many times over through his hard work and dedication to DRVR.
Since the very beginning at DRVR it was clear we will meet a lot of challenges. All that new things: technologies, countries, markets, and possibilities makes me crazy sometimes. But while it is difficult to make great product, it’s also the most interesting part — find the right way, make mistakes, fix them, and learn from it.”
-Maxim Orlov, Software Developer
One of the key differences between DRVR and many of the startups in Thailand is the difference in average age. DRVR’s core team is made up of veterans in their late 30s and early 40s. Most of the startups I meet in Thailand and Myanmar are in their early 20s (there are exceptions such as Claim di, GinJa,) this tends to mean a lack of life experience.
The panel at the Bangkok Angel group that Dana Blouin and I pitched to seemed amazed that we, as 40 something people are leading startups. I honestly thought that lack of experience is one of the key reason why 90% of startups fail.
Q1 has been a productive and crucial period for DRVR. Cheers to the global family, contributing to driving towards new milestones. Look out for DRVR’s updates!
“We start small, We think big and we learn fast”- Damien Williams, CFO