RapidScale CEO Discusses Company Culture And How Beer Gardens And Putting Greens Relate To Cloud Success

Changing The Game

Randy Jeter, RapidScale's co-founder and CEO, said that by encouraging employees to work together more collaboratively, he's changing the company's office culture and those benefits are trickling down to channel-friendly RapidScale's base of partners. The new emphasis on building a collaborative workplace is also helping attract talent that Jeter said it otherwise might not have been able to land.

Here's what Jeter had to say about his company's change, his plans for RapidScale's other office locations, and how the emphasis on greater collaboration and innovation is benefiting the partner base.

What prompted the recent emphasis on company culture?

We moved into our new office [in Irvine, California] about a year ago, and we had known 24 months ago that we needed to make an aggressive change. That change had to be [focused on] how to attract better talent because we aren't going to be able to compete with software companies like Microsoft and Amazon. If you don’t have the talent, you can't compete in this space. We weren't hiring the right people, and we were running into roadblocks. To hire the right people, we needed to find the right office that people would want to come to for work. So, we choose an office in a more central [location] that had a Google complex-like feel.

We needed to model our culture after the innovative software companies, so having more white boards for collaboration, the flexibility to work remotely, and more open spaces where people aren't boxed in within cubicles when they are here. A place where people will be able to think innovatively and put in the late hours if need be to get things done.

Describe the feel of the new office, and how it's rubbing off on the company?

At the new office, there's a putting green, a beer garden that is going in, and we are going to have a beer on tap. [Employees] can stay after and grab a drink or coffee and chat with each other and feel part of the company. When our partners come to town, they connect with that feeling. There's a lot of stuff at our office now that wasn’t there a year ago, including a gym. The company culture has to match its surroundings. [Our employees] aren't just working, they are a part of something. Everyone has embraced the change. Promoting that shift in culture is helping us attract the best talent, create the best client experience, and produce great results for our partners.

Has the changed helped RapidScale attract new talent?

People now know we are building offices around the U.S. like the one we have [in Irvine] today, and they are coming at us because the market is hot and they know we have built a good culture-based, growth-based company.

We have been able to attract Bob Buchanan [now executive vice president of sales and marketing for RapidScale] who was vice president of channel sales at Tierpoint. We attracted one of the top solutions engineers that's now our senior vice president of technology, Duane Barnes, who was with Intelisys. We are also getting people like Kim Cummings [Partner Experience Manager for RapidScale and former channel manager for Frontier's West region] and Tim Peterson as national partner director [most recently, Navisite's national channel manager].

How has the shift changed the way RapidScale employees work?

It's totally impacted our team because employees feel like they can fly people into our corporate office now and those people are going to want to buy from us. The reason [partners] want to do business with RapidScale is because we built a company that is going to last. When you start spreading that culture, people want to be a part of that, and they don’t feel like it's just going to go away. You always see the big cloud companies names, like Microsoft, everywhere, but you don’t get that personal touch in the cloud. This isn't a platform; this is a relationship. Our job is to do hybrid cloud or managed IT for partners, and [partners] want to know they are bringing their business to people who care about their own business.

Do you believe company culture has impacted other companies that have tried to get into the cloud space?

The culture around carrier services is pivoting and changing. I think the big thing is, the software companies have really good company cultures that the carriers never had -- the telecoms eliminated innovation, and they haven't had the right culture within their organizations to drive a better experience, like a company like Facebook has. The company culture you have to have in the future is modeled around that of the software companies. We are winning because our people feel empowered to provide a great experience for partners and end customers.

How is the emphasis on company culture making a difference with your partner base?

At the end of the day, it's about the experience. Partners can come to our office and meet the team, and it's an open space. They can interact with everyone and be a part of our Friday team lunches. Our data center is next door, so they can check out our cloud facilities or sit outside and play pool or ping pong. We enjoy flying people in and holding meetings here. Supplier partners are coming in now too, and they are engaging with our engineers. It's not a blocked-out culture where you come into a set meeting. You're come in to be a part of the company. As a partner, meaning a vendor or channel partner, that is making a huge difference.

What are your plans for RapidScale, and how will you push the importance of culture into your other office locations?

At the end the year, we'll have between 85 and 90 employees and next year we are projected to have about 150 employees. We will triple the size of our sales team, and we'll draw people in with our engineering team so we can start doing some innovation around portal interfaces, A.I., and machine learning. Right now, we have an office in Virginia that is evolving into the same model we have in California. We are doing a full-build in North Carolina -- 5,000-plus square feet -- that will follow the same model as our headquarters, and then Our Texas office will follow that.

There is a lot of consolidation in cloud, and people want to know if you're going to be around. Staying power is key for everyone – especially our employees. You want to know you're working in a safe place and when people make the shift to a new company or we are trying to get them to come to our company through a recruiter, it makes a huge difference.