Drips is honored to be recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in America on the Inc. 5000 list. We believe our success is a direct result of a dedicated team full of creative thinkers and hard workers. Read on to learn how our HR & Administration Manager, Katie Howard, developed a culture of collaboration and camaraderie that has helped us get where we are today, and find out what she sees in store for Drips in the future. See the full Inc. 5000 list here: https://www.inc.com/inc5000
Building a Culture of Collaboration and Growth
When Katie Howard climbed her way up what seemed like the longest flight of stairs she had ever seen, she didn’t fully know the journey those stairs would lead to. Katie had been referred by a mutual colleague to AC Evans, co-founder, and CEO of Drips – who was looking for someone to help him build a culture for his lean but mighty team. She walked into a small space as team member #9 and hit the ground running, building a culture that would hold the company together through multiple location changes and eventually a transition to a fully remote team; a culture driven by a passion for improvement and growth, that is consistently being recognized by accolades such as making the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.
9 Employees and a Staircase
Katie joined the company as a sometimes Office Manager, sometimes Executive Assistant, all-times team spirit guide. When she first met the team of 8 in that small room at the top of the stairs, they were huddled together in oversized throne-like seats working around the clock to innovate the future of conversation. If the large furniture was indicative of anything it was that this small team was working on big ideas that were growing faster than the space around them.
Growing the Team from 9-25
Giving them room to grow quickly became Katie’s first project. Together with the leadership team, she began a secret hunt for a new office – one that would be as large as Drips’ ideas. “We wanted it to be a surprise. We found a space that was perfect but needed a lot of work. So we lined the walls with images of our plans for what it would eventually look like and walked the team over for the big reveal. We looked like a school class on a field trip. It’s still one of my favorite memories.”
Quickly the team of 9 grew to 25, and Katie was on a mission to keep them united as a family. She did this by ensuring team member birthdays and work anniversaries were celebrated, creating events that brought them together outside the office so they could get to know each other, and by making herself available as a friend and confidant when anyone needed. “I’m happiest when other people are happy. That’s something that is important to me; it keeps me motivated and energized.”
Running Out of Room
Now at 35 team members, Drips continued to grow … and even began to burst at the seams. Once again, the leadership team found themselves looking to expand their space, this time by taking over another floor of the building they currently called home. But just as Katie began to build out that home, 2020 decided to enter the picture with plans of its own.
Going Remote with a Family of 70
“When we had to close the doors in March 2020, we thought we’d be back in a couple of weeks.” But life has a funny way of changing your plans. As the team found success and fluidity in remote work, the question arose as to whether this was the future of Drips. Katie and the leadership team began to discuss what it would mean for Drips to go fully remote. Not long after moving into their newest location, they made the difficult decision to permanently close their office/home. “It was a scary decision, but I think it’s also helped us grow. We aren’t limited to a single area to build our team. We are bringing in people from all over the country – they come in with different ideas, viewpoints – and expand how we interact with each other and our clients.”
What has been the hardest part of going fully remote? Continuing to build and maintain the culture of unity they were able to develop in person. Remote life didn’t mean the company would stop growing. If anything – the opening of hiring borders across the country expanded their pool of candidates, and quickly Drips grew to a team of 87 and counting. The most challenging part of growing rapidly in a remote environment has been keeping the culture of the community they worked so hard to create. “We’re continuing to celebrate our achievements, work anniversaries, and birthdays virtually, and we’ve developed clubs around hobbies and interests to keep people connected. One team member who has worked remotely for over 4 years told me she feels closer to her Drips team in the 6 months she’s been here than she did in 4 years at her previous company. That honestly gave me the chills.”
Drips Across the Pond?
What does the future have in store for Drips? “International! Seriously, I have such big dreams for this company – and I know we can achieve them. I don’t see why we can’t go global one day.”
It’s clear that Drips has worked hard to create a culture that truly reflects their core values: Lean, Improve, Happiness, Team, Passion. When asked what her favorite core value is Katie quickly responds “Team. When I see people developing their skills, getting promoted, being encouraged to create – that makes them happy. When I see our team improving and growing – that makes me happy.”
The company’s commitment to these values is ultimately what helps them keep innovating and growing. Accolades such as being recognized as one of the Fastest Growing Companies in America on the Inc. 5000 is proof that the work they put into embodying their core values truly does pay off. It’s been quite a journey since the flight of stairs Katie walked up on day one. And while the stairs are no longer around, Drips continues to climb the path to success.
About Katie: A Note from CEO & Co-Founder AC Evans
“One of the hardest things I’ve learned to accept in a fast-growing startup is that not everyone is able or willing to go along for the ride. It is a rollercoaster. A growing business needs often change or outpace any one of us on a long enough timeline. That startup turbulence is not for most, many just don’t have the stomach or the appetite for it. Katie on the other hand has that grit, determination, and desire to improve, and that has allowed her to grow with the company every step of the way. From employee number 9 to growing to a staff of 90 and establishing herself squarely amongst senior leadership running HR, Katie has been an inspiration to all of us. She’s literally shed blood sweat and tears to establish and defend our culture in ways most will never know, and many couldn’t understand. Drips would not be what it is without her.”