SaaS Founder Interview with Nico Blier-Silvestri, Co-Founder & CEO @ Platypus
Five Key Takeaways from Platypus’ CEO and Co-Founder Nico Blier-Silvestri SaaS Founder Show Interview
Culture is something every company hopes to implement, something that is vital in all hiring decisions made. However, it is subjective and not tangible, and finding the right culture fit is difficult. A gap in culture can pose a complicated problem for companies.
Platypus is an HR and recruitment solution that uses data to help companies make more informed culture decisions. It provides tools that let companies track their culture, drive engagement, and hire the right candidates for a team’s unique culture. It helps quantify culture, keeps employees happy, and provides leadership with insightful information.
Nico Blier-Silvestri, Platypus’ co-founder and CEO, sat down for an insightful conversation with Tony Zayas, Insivia’s VP of Growth. The two discussed various topics, like making something intangible tangible, building a team, developing a strategy, and much more. Below, we’ll cover the five most crucial takeaways from Blier-Silvestri and Zayas’ 55-minute conversation.
#1. Culture is Democratic
Many companies tend to define culture from the top-down, with leadership issuing a statement defining what they conceive the company culture to be. But Blier-Silvestri defines culture differently. He believes it is all-encompassing and democratic.
“What we believe is that culture is democratic. Culture is the mass of the aggregation of values and behavior of your people,” states Blier-Silvestri. “If you have enough people in an organization that care for flexibility, or let’s say for inclusivity, that either becomes the culture of your organization, or you lose people.”
Platypus was created to collect data on what employees and leadership feel about culture, weigh according to different criteria, and aggregate it. “Lots of different factors, all the data aggregated from every single employee in an organization. And what comes out is an absolute gold mine of cultural data,” explains Blier-Silvestri.
#2. Defining a Culture and Following Through is Crucial
Just because culture is a democratic process doesn’t mean that leadership shouldn’t set out to define a company’s culture. Companies must try and develop a strong culture, and once they’ve defined it, it is important they stick to it.
“It is absolutely critical for the leaders or the founders to sit down and say, what do we stand for? What is important to us, right? And those can be aspirational,” notes Blier-Silvestri. Once a culture has been defined, leadership has the important task of living up to the culture they have hoped to set.
“The big risk here is that once you define those, and you share them in the organization, if you don’t live by them, it becomes toxic,” says Blier-Silvestri. “If you say like, hey, flexibility is one of our core values, but then you don’t trust people to own their calendar and work. You know, that’s just not going to work. So it’s really, really key that you follow through on the mission.”
#3. It’s Not About Your First Iteration; It’s About How You Evolve
Every company starts from somewhere, and Platypus has undergone some serious growth. When Zayas asked Blier-Silvestri about Platypus’ MVP, the short answer was not very good. But Blier-Silvestri believes it is how you evolve that is important.
“I think that’s really something I learned. It’s not about pushing something that you think is perfect, because first of all, you don’t know anything about what the customer wants yet. It’s about putting something live, trying it out, maybe testing iteration, iteration, iteration,” explained Blier-Silvestri.
The idea for Platypus was to put out the first product, learn more about how clients use it, and then evolve. “It’s not about how good your first thing is, it’s how good you are at learning and that you are learning and pushing new things in your product and making it adapt,” notes Blier-Silvestri. “From the first iteration, we realized the data we provide is not only a recruitment thing, and then we started to build all the features around Platypus.”
#4. Focusing on Transparency and Trust is a Must with Shared Leadership
Blier-Silvestri is like many other founders that chose to start his business with a close friend, his co-founder Daniel Bowen. These long-time friends had to navigate shared leadership, and Zayas asked, “How do you guys align and work to kind of do strategic planning?”
Blier-Silvestri stressed that the most important aspect of their relationship is transparency and open communication. “I don’t need an echo chamber. I need somebody who’s going to tell me yes or no Nico, because of X, Y, Z, and stuff,” explains Blier-Silvestri. “I believe that full transparency is the best way to go.”
The importance of dialogue and open communication are essential on an organizational level for Platypus. “I think people want to have a voice. People want to be heard. That doesn’t mean you’re systematically going to do what they say,” notes Blier-Silvestri. “But they want to be recognized as I’ve listened to you.”
#5. Understand When to Take a Backseat
Most people who start a company have an intensely personal connection to their business, and as it grows, it can become difficult to relinquish control. That is a time when some founders micromanage and don’t provide employees the freedom they deserve. Blier-Silvestri notes that he had to learn how to take a more passive approach.
“I used to want to be in every single meeting. Because it’s my baby… But I’ve been kicked out of the design meetings, because basically, I currently have terrible taste in colors and shape and everything. And I’m like Nico, you’re not helping,” expresses Blier-Silvestri.
He states that it took a realization to course-correct. “I think it’s about being super open to the fact that you are not the best at everything. It’s just not possible,” says Blier-Silvestri. “I mean, it’s not, if you are, then you’re not good at hiring. And if you’re not good at hiring, your company is gonna die, right? So you shouldn’t be the best at everything.”
These five takeaways are just scratching the surface of a very informative conversation that covered everything from the importance of data to in-person and asynchronous office life. Watch the rest of Platypus’ CEO and Co-Founder Nico Blier-Silvestri and Insivia’s VP of Growth, Tony Zayas, insightful conversation above!