How I did itLegalUncategorized

Stopping corporate culture from strangling your start-up – Page 2 of 2 – StartupSmart

Keeping the corporates at bay


When APN News & Media took an 82% equity stake in brandsExclusive last year, it promised not to “smother” the three-year-old company.


Going into the deal, this was the number one priority for brandsExclusive, says co-founder Daniel Jarosch.


“APN wasn’t the only company talking to us. A lot of very large companies were talking to us. In this process, you pick up a lot of signals,” he says.


“Did you get to speed directly to the CEO or does it take four weeks until you sort out an NDA with the legal department?


“If the CEO says ‘Let’s have a beer and talk about what we do’, you say ‘Wow’… What is unique for APN is they all get eCommerce and they know the importance of culture.


“[They understand why] we don’t have a three-year planned budget.”


Giving away large chunks of equity is a big risk, Jarosch admits, which is why it’s so important to get it right, particularly if you’re determined to preserve the culture of your start-up.


“Companies say, ‘Let’s all move into the same office’ and suddenly start-up people are mingling with people in suits, and it doesn’t work,” he says.


“[APN] bought us because of our culture. They’re actually pretty good because they’ve invested in a number of different companies.


“They are all very different in culture, and APN never tries to interfere in them… We’re here to build an eCommerce business, not negotiate with lawyers.”


Accepting the inevitable


Jarosch says while it’s possible to resist corporate culture in the event of an acquisition or investment, size is a different matter.


“When you have 10 people in one room, it’s very easy to have that… Then you grow and suddenly you’re 200 people,” he says.


“When you have 10 people, everyone’s on Spotify and looking at YouTube videos. When you have 200 people, you need to have guidelines.”


So as you grow, how do you maintain professionalism without compromising your culture?


Nally has outlined some dos and don’ts.



  • Use the terminology of big business
  • Be inflexible with work times
  • Adopt policies without collaboration


  • Trust those who are part of your business
  • Allow flexibility
  • Surprise and delight your staff
  • Be seen to be prepared to have a go at any task
  • Treat people with respect

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *