While we’re a long way from the manual inconveniences of flipping through a rolodex or fumbling to send a fax, the flood of digital workplace productivity platforms that swooped in to save us have now posed their own minor problems. Convenience has turned into clutter.
Or, more simply put: we can’t find anything anymore.
Guru Technologies founders and seasoned veteran entrepreneurs Rick Nucci and Mitchell Stewart recognized these modern pain points in knowledge management. Departments were functioning in silos, information was buried in servers and many individuals were routinely asked to answer the same questions by their peers over and over again.
Rather than simply make digital information easier for you to find, Guru turned the process upside down and decided to have that information find you – when and where you need it most.
Today, Guru works with partners like Slack, Zendesk and Salesforce, amongst others, to help clients tap into their company’s collective knowledge. The more you use it, the better it gets to know your people and the information they need, reducing wasted time looking for documents, answering customer questions and communicating with peers.
Much like its product, Guru’s workspace was also built with intention. Stepping into the Guru office, you immediately feel at home. The urban industrial workspace is peppered with scenes of colorful living room spaces, complete with leash-free pups spreading kisses as they settle on a nearby rug. Also noticeable across the space is the calm, quiet buzz of productivity. Emphasis on the word calm.
Having been through more than one startup rodeo, Nucci and Stewart decided to learn from their experiences and create a company with a very deliberate approach of putting its customers and team members first.
In action, that meant unplugging the pressure cooker boiling under many startups to build a company where quality and thoughtfulness came before speed. Good ideas trumped the way things had always been done. Humbly taking feedback erased ego.
The growing company continues to expand its team and its workspace, recently acquiring a second floor at its 121 S. Broad Street location. To accommodate its now 100 employees, sit-to-standing desks line the perimeter walls, while carefully decorated workspaces and conference rooms allow for a variety of workstyles, collaboration and community-building. Meetings are held downstairs in a spacious kitchen/dining area that features a stage for all hands meetings, Meetups and, word on the street is, potentially concerts.
Outside of Guru’s mission to bring people knowledge to do their jobs, it’s also looking to make a difference in the Philadelphia ecosystem. Not waiting to “give back” to the community, Guru aims to “give first,” sharing its expertise and training future technologists in middle and high schools so that they have a better shot of getting their big break in the tech industry.
Its values are some of the many ways the unique startup has managed to maintain and scale its culture, its company and its relationships with clients.
The puppies running around don’t hurt either.
We eat our own dogfood, as it were. We use our own product. It helps us find bugs, catch things early, come up with new features and use it for on-boarding. It’s great because it helps everyone to understand and believe in the product we build.Armard Bellamy Engineering Manager
We’re what I call ‘3D.’ Diverse, dynamic, dog-friendly. We’re marathoners, not sprinters. We care about quality. We do things right rather than rush. There’s texture to the workplace and the people.Yev Meyer Sr Data Scientist
Our culture is all about teamwork and collaboration. There’s no ego. There’s never a moment where I’ve reached out and haven’t been able to get support or have a conversation. We’re all in this together.Mansi Pathak Engineering Manager
What are your company values?
When Guru was founded, we had a vision of how we wanted to solve the knowledge management problem. However, it was early customer development that really shaped Guru to be the product it is today - and those lessons have really influenced the way we not only continue to build products, but also how we build culture.
Some of the other values we’ve built this company around are:
● Build for the long term (we’re marathoners, not sprinters).
● Seek and share knowledge.
● Be generous (don’t give back, give first).
● Don’t take yourself too seriously.
● Encourage each other to bring our best.
These values are critical to everything we do at Guru. So much so, that we’ve built interview questions around these values to try and suss them out of potential candidates.
What tangible ways have you seen the Guru product make an impact?
One of our company goals at Guru is to master the art of the outcome. What we mean by that is to be incredibly focused on demonstrating real business value to our customers. Being built into our customers’ workflows has made it possible for us to understand where and when Guru is having an impact, but often times it takes close collaboration with our customers to understand what kind of an impact they hope Guru can have on their organization.
Here are some examples of measurable business value we’ve helped our customers achieve:
● 20% reduction in customer support handle time
● 76% increase in average deal size
● 67% reduction in new hire ramp time
● 62% reduction in time to first response
● 34% decrease in internal repeat questions asked
How has the Guru product evolved over time, leading to overall company growth?
Our evolution has been very organic, but dependent on our communication with customers and responsiveness to their feedback.
Initially, in early customer development, we recognized that sales teams felt the pain Guru alleviated very acutely, so we went to market as a sales enablement solution. Eventually we saw support teams using it more and saw that as a means to grow. As we started tackling both those use cases, our internal team needed to grow to support that.
Soon enough, companies that bought us for sales and support began to see use of the product across the entire company. We realized that there were many knowledge management dependencies within an organization across completely different subject matter expertise — from product to security to legal and finance.
As more and more departments started to use Guru, we started to notice a really exciting trend — people were building daily habits around Guru.
Because of the high engagement in our product, and because we were built into all the places these teams were already working, we were able to leverage artificial intelligence to recommended knowledge in-context.
As the product evolved, so did our need to hire. From marketing to different technical skill sets, such as data science and engineering, we needed to grow with our increasingly complex buyers. We’ve also segmented the teams across product marketing, product management, UX and dev to focus on specific personas, ensuring we’re in tune with those different use cases and building the best solution possible for every team that could use Guru.
Moving forward, our goal is to double in size.
What do you look for during your hiring process?
Our interview process is thorough, including take home exercises in many cases. The goal here is that once hired, someone has already demonstrated they can do the work and can operate somewhat autonomously. This also gives candidates the opportunity to get a sense of the work they’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis, and whether or not this role will be one they’ll enjoy. We are also always on the lookout for people who can think differently about an old problem, as that is very much what we are doing here at Guru.
For many technical roles, we tend to hire people with non-trad backgrounds; musicians, history majors, people who’ve just graduated from a coding bootcamps. We like to see that candidates are creative and fit our cultural values. This is especially critical for our customer-facing roles.
When we’re hiring, we want to see who is being deliberate about researching Guru. Tell us, genuinely and specifically, why you want to work at Guru.
What is the internal culture like?
Our culture is a living and breathing thing. We’ve been intentional about acknowledging our culture on a daily basis. We’ve got a Slack channel dedicated to values and action, and then hold a town hall to recognize people who bring those to life.
As we continue to grow, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on diversity and inclusion. But again, these aren’t just words we throw around. We’ve been significantly invested, intentional and deliberate when building the most well-rounded team possible, and try to be as transparent as we can around how well (or not well) we might be doing.
For fun, we do a lot together as an office. We hold company-wide monthly outings, such as happy hours or taking everyone out to a restaurant. When the San Francisco team (about 15 people) comes to the Philly office each quarter, we take a half day for a team building activity, like axe throwing.
Here, there is always opportunity for growth. If you work hard, show your worth and take initiative, there’s an opportunity to do things you’re passionate about or build a role for yourself.
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