This one thing has defined our team

01/15/20

Rowland, 45, and Kevin, 39, our co-founders, shared an office at the management consulting firm they worked at prior to founding Stake. Rowland, who had founded and successfully exited two startups prior, led customer experience at the firm. Kevin, who had an early and successful career in banking, led FinTech.


At that same time, Tom, who now leads property relations at Stake, was running enterprise sales at a FinTech company and became an American Ninja Warrior. Rain, our star software engineer, ran a LGBTQ nonprofit that raised funds for community initiatives while managing accounting for a rental portfolio, and then became a tenant advocate and moved to New York as he learned to code.


A startup, especially in the early days, isn’t defined by the resumes of each individual of the firm. Although having the drive, quirks, and talent of the team members at Stake could be seen as an unfair advantage. Contrary to what many say, it isn’t a shared sense of purpose around a common goal that is the single factor in a startup’s success. Although our purpose — to unlock renter savings and loyalty — certainly brings out the best in each of us. “Moving fast and breaking things,” or “Day 1” cultures, are inspiring, but we’ve found one thing that is important when you are bringing a new idea to life.


That one thing is the ability to listen.


It’s easier than ever to create the new and put it into the market. But, this brings with it even more noise for businesses and consumers. For businesses, that noise makes it harder to decide how to execute on new concepts and technology. For consumers, more noise brings a corresponding decrease in trust in the new. For a startup, by nature we believe, but what defines a startup is the ability to listen to hear if others believe too. Listening through this noise is how startups learn, iterate, and execute.


Yes, we listen to each other (okay, we sometimes still need to work at that!)


But, we aren’t making a statement about interpersonal skills.


What we’ve noticed is that the one thing every person our team does incredibly well is listen to the market. Rain listens to feedback from our property partners even though his daily focus is on our technology. Tom listens to renters though his daily focus in on property relations.


It’s finding a signal in the midst of the noise that tells us what truly matters to our property partners, and tenant members.