Kelly Panebianco graduated from the University of the Arts with a photography degree in 2017. Two years later, working independently, she was unfulfilled. She missed being a part of a team — namely, the one at the Philly-based data analytics firm RJMetrics, where she had worked part-time while studying.
“At RJMetrics, and then Stitch, I was never made to feel like I was any less a part of the team than a full-time employee that has been there forever, and I think that came down from Bob Moore and how he runs his companies,” Panebianco said. (Moore founded the business intelligence SaaS company RJMetrics, which was later acquired by Magento Commerce. RJMetrics then also spun out Stitch as a standalone company.)
That culture drew Panebianco back to then-burgeoning Crossbeam, the latest venture co-founded by Moore, in 2019; she’s currently the company’s team experience manager and executive assistant. This June, Panebianco will celebrate her three-year anniversary at Crossbeam.
Like Panebianco, other past employees of Moore and cofounder Buck Ryan were drawn to Crossbeam because of their standout leadership.
Crossbeam is a remote-first SaaS company with a hub office and founding footprint in Center City. The company has created a partner ecosystem platform that helps businesses collaborate with each other by tracking their overlapping contacts and prospects while keeping the rest of their data secure. Moore and Ryan cofounded the company in 2018.
Harker Roslin, now a product manager at Crossbeam, still remembers their first day working with Moore at Magento in 2017.
“The day I met Bob was so funny, he was in such a rush that day, but he made a little bit of extra time for me to make sure that I knew that I was invited to a party on a boat later,” Roslin said. “He was like, ‘People might forget to tell you and I want to make sure you have the invite.’ I was like, ‘You’re in charge, and you’re telling me that? Thank you.’”
Roslin and Moore both left Magento in 2018, but Roslin kept an eye on Crossbeam. When the right product position opened up, they jumped to apply and joined Crossbeam in October 2021.
One similarity between his previous ventures and Crossbeam? Moore’s transparency, Roslin said. Roslin was particularly impressed by a blog post Moore published on Crossbeam’s website about the hard lessons learned through building and scaling RJMetrics.
Transparency is part of Crossbeam’s companywide routine as well, apparent from the first day of onboarding. Crossbeam was Roslin’s first fully remote onboarding process, but they said it surpassed weeks-long, in-person deep dives they had at past companies. Crossbeam was simply more informative, they said.
The company’s Slack also has a #foundersAMA channel where employees can ping Moore or Ryan with a question at any time for public discussion.
“When I started, I was like, ‘Oh, this is legitimate,’” Roslin said. “There was so much documentation. There was so much support, and everyone’s door was open.”
As a remote-first company with team members based across the United States, Crossbeam has had to get creative to foster a shared camaraderie amongst the team, Panebianco said.
One method is the company’s monthly all-hands meetings, where a rotating lineup of key team members discuss the state of the business, topical updates and Crossbeam’s plans for the future. It’s also a chance for different departments, such as sales or product, to share updates with the entire company.
For Yiannis Nicolaou, an early RJMetrics team member, the all-hands meetings are examples of Moore’s ability to build strong teams. Nicolaou is now a staff software engineer for Crossbeam. (Check out his 2021 Technical.ly Developers Conference talk on the company’s use of Clojure.)
“When we’re in all-hands meetings, I’m surrounded by people with so much more experience than I’ve seen at previous companies. It inspires me to contribute more,” he said.
He was introduced to Ryan at RJMetrics when Nicolaou interviewed him for a software engineer position. Not only was he impressed by Ryan’s technical skills, but his imagination for business use cases. Nicolaou said Ryan constantly weighed how day-to-day engineering choices would impact customers.
Knowing Ryan’s strength made it an even easier choice to join Crossbeam.
“I don’t think it’s often you get a chance to work with a SaaS business mastermind like Bob is, and Buck who is someone that can build systems that solve complex business use cases but are yet simple to understand and maintain,” Nicolaou said. “But last but not least, it’s also the human aspect. Buck is someone that you can have sincere discussions about life in general and recognizes the importance of work/life balance.”
Besides keeping everyone on track, Panebianco said Moore and Ryan prioritize fun as part of Crossbeam’s culture — and the team uses Slack to foster that as well.
One of Panebianco’s favorite examples was a virtual run, suggested by a Crossbeam team member, that encouraged the team to get out and run or walk as much as they’d like. Crossbeam had T-shirts made up to encourage participants, and Slack pinged all day with pictures of people taking part.
The team also just launched a new tradition, its first annual company offsite, which took place in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this month. In addition to hearing talks from fellow team members, customers and outside speakers, the team made important face-to-face connections.
The majority of today’s team was onboarded after lockdowns began in March 2020, and the offsite was the first time many had met anyone else from the company in person.
When Panebianco joined Crossbeam, the company had 10 employees; Crossbeam is now approaching the 100-person mark. For her role, she’s learned ways to insert creativity in scaling team events and onboarding, all while ensuring there’s still a personal connection amongst the staff.
It’s not an easy task, but when asked where she hopes Crossbeam will go under Moore and Ryan’s leadership?
“More growth. We’re going to keep on going.”
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