The “new normal” and the winning culture of ClaimCompass
Tatyana is not the ordinary vanity-loving lady. She does not get over excited about winning competitions and being featured here and there, even though she is extremely good at pitching. Now, don`t get me wrong – she appreciates and enjoys the recognition. But her standards go beyond that. The way she measures success is not through interviews and fame-type of actions. In that case, I guess I got lucky that we had the chance to chat. And she was honest. Maybe this is one of the strongest values in ClaimCompass as well. A company established to fight for us, travelers` rights, when our flights get canceled or delayed.
Well, even though “vanity fair” is not her favourite, ClaimCompass won a number of competitions. Some of which are Get in the Ring European finals, has already been part of 500 Startups seed program in California as well as Tatyana herself is just finishing up her participation in E&Y’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2017. She was also among Forbes Bulgaria 30 under 30 this year and a Global Endeavor Entrepreneur award winner.
What do you fancy the most holding the role of a CEO of the company?
Mmmm.. just all the ordinary things that others say they like, such as the freedom. The fact that we can build the company the way we want it. We have the chance to assemble the team exactly the way we see it, to build up org charts and everything else – it is within our power. And that to me feels like a much better experience than in any other organization that would not have clear goals and you would end up just sitting in a room from 9 to 5 and just simply be present.
We choose the people we work with and that is very enriching and inspiring. In a small team of 17, such as ours, every single person contributes massively. And the satisfaction comes from a variety of things. I need to ask myself on a daily basis what would make most sense to execute now in order to get meaningful results and not just to waste time, it does not allow me to do stupid things 🙂
How do you define the culture of ClaimCompass?
We have already tried to define it and we do not want to have, let`s say 10 values that we stick to the wall. The culture is formed around everyone, right? Just like a lot of startups we count on a flat structure and work towards building a non-formal workspace, a very open and sharing-oriented environment where we encourage ideas to be brought up at all kinds of weekly meetings. We count on effective communication, trying to cut off the waste of time for internal communication.
It is important to make sure that everyone from the founding team is very approachable. Feedback goes all ways. Of course all of that is easier with a small team. We are also trying to be very data-driven, meaning that we base decisions on numbers and are objective that way. We definitely put focus on the customers, we are offering a service after all. Then we prioritize the company and afterwards it is everyone individually. The logic behind all actions should follow this pattern: customer-company-myself.
What are some of the best practices you have implemented to maintain this kind of culture?
While interviewing and on-boarding new hires, we pay attention to the values they bring. We try to match people with values that are similar to the company ones. Communication of these values is what we are also very focused on.
One thing that we have every Thursday is a team call. It is a call because we have a few people who work outside of Sofia. We record this call and people can watch and listen to it again in the future. New hires have access to some previous calls. Every team call would have a topic of discussion and a person from the team is leading that discussion. That person prepares in advance for what we call a “lightening talk” and then we do question time and discuss other team stuff. We do this for one hour every week. It seems to be a good exercise to communicate values and making sure that everyone is on the same page. Everyone also knows what the others from the team do and feel good about ownership and sharing.
Culture is one of these things that everyone talks about now. It is not distinguishing you if you have focused on learning and thinking about culture. The question should be what kind of culture you should build. It is very rarely to meet teams and companies which do not care about this now. And our takeaway is to not put too much emphasis on definition to use it as an advertisement.
We believe that the culture is something you feel the minute you get in the office. The way people speak to each other, the way things are happening naturally. We have had that conversation in the beginning, about what kind of culture we should have – “let`s write down 5 points”. We also did this! So we didn`t just get to where we are now but grew our thinking. As you grow, there are new factors that influence your culture. It is one with 5 people and needs to be changed when you get to 10 and more.
Thinking and learning about culture is just the new way of doing things right. It is not the new progressive and innovative way of thinking. I see it as the new normal.
So we went on chatting about what makes her an effective CEO and how she manages to do what she does. And it sounds very simple. Tatyana simply encourages the team to get shit done, pardon our language. It might sound aggressive, however it seems to work as it puts people into an execution mode. ClaimCompass is a company that has realized that execution is everyone`s responsibility – CEO, CTO, CМO, execs, everyone! And that makes things moving, going and progressing.
The founding team seem to also get the pig picture – a quality that helps them refocus when needed and provides a constant feedback about their actions. Tatyana shares that they have that little obsession to “cut the waste” with everything they do. Nothing to blame them for, their business is based on optimization after all. It would be weird if they did not apply that principle internally.
You have all felt that before, I am sure – someone preaches about what kind of culture they have. (There is enough out there telling us what is “the best, winning culture that attracts and keeps talent”.) But they end up not doing what they preach. And usually end up losing talent. That is a different story.
It is no wonder to me that ClaimCompass is doing so well for just the two years of existence. The founding team is focused on learning. Any time. From anybody. No matter who, when and how.
I think that there is always room for improvement. Whatever you have accomplished, there is always something that is bigger. The thing that changes is your mindset. When you get to a new achievement, you just set your mind that this is the new normal and start reaching higher. Then you redefine what survival means, and you move on. But only if you make it a priority to continue learning and to be sure that it can be from anyone! Ideas, inspiration, new skills and knowledge – you need bits of it all.