Key HR Challenges in VC-Backed Companies

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Key HR Challenges in VC-Backed Companies

Welcome to another exciting episode of All About HR! This is the series for HR Professionals and business leaders who want to future-proof their organization and learn about the latest trends & insights from industry experts, CHROs, and thought leaders.

Is it possible to build a people-first company if you’re using the VC model? In this episode of All About HR season 2, we talk with Noah Warder — Head of People @ Guusto — about making VC-backed companies people-first, sustainable, and revenue-driven.

Noah is a seasoned HR leader who is passionate about creating safe, inclusive, and efficient spaces for teams through organizational design.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • 3 issues with the current VC model of building companies
  • How sustainable companies hire
  • HR as the main revenue-generating function of the business

Watch the full episode to discover how HR can take the lead in building a people-first and sustainable organizational culture!


Related (free) resource ahead! Continue reading below ↓

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Noah Warder: Because you can’t build a great culture when you’re growing at speed. It’s impossible because you can’t hire enough people to create the frameworks and the processes and everything you need to fully sustain and support all the people that you’re bringing on. Really quickly, you can do it pretty well. But I think a lot of things fall through the cracks because you’re just focused so much on hypergrowth.

Neelie Verlinden: Hi, everyone, and welcome back for a new episode of All About HR. My name is Neelie. I’m your host, and on today’s episode, I will be speaking with Noah Warder. Noah is the Chief People Officer at Guusto. And we are going to talk about a very interesting  – and in my opinion, important topic. More about that in a second. We are going to take off straight away but before we do so, as always, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel, hit that notification bell, and like this video

Neelie Verlinden: Welcome to another episode of All About HR. 

Neelie Verlinden: Now, let me welcome Noah to the show. Hi there. Noah, how are you today?

Noah Warder: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me here, Neelie. 

Neelie Verlinden: Yes, I’m very happy to have you know. Perhaps before we kick off our conversation, you can tell our audience a little bit more about yourself and also about what you’re doing at Guusto.

Noah Warder: For sure. Yeah. So as you said, I head our people department at Guusto. And so we’re an HR tech company. We specialize in employee recognition and rewards. So a lot of what I do is really setting the culture and the foundation for Guusto. And as an HR tech company, we really feel that we need to be the cutting edge of culture. So setting, you know, the best example for our clients, what it means to have a really great culture for an organization. So this is being transparent, having really forward-thinking new policies and creating flexible work environments and really being a people-first organization. And then a little bit of about my background. I come from a fairly untraditional HR background. I didn’t go to school for this. I don’t actually have certification. I have a teaching degree. I should be an elementary school teacher. And then, I started my career in hospitality and started my own business in hospitality. And then sort of transitioned into tech, and then kind of just grew in this little realm and haven’t looked back.

Neelie Verlinden: Oh, wow, that is a very beautiful story, actually, Noah, from an elementary school teacher to the hospitality industry. And then you ended up heading a people team in an HR tech company.

Noah Warder: And it’s been a wild ride. 

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah. Nice, though. All right now, Noah, I mean, the reason that we got in touch was that I saw that you posted something on LinkedIn. And I think, just to give our audience a little bit more context, I’ll just read the first lines of that post, if that’s okay with you actually. 

Noah Warder: Yeah, for sure. 

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah. All right. So every time I open LinkedIn, Twitter, the news, or even Slack, I see another company announcing another round of layoffs. And this is exactly what is wrong with the VC model of building companies. Too many founders and investors are not focused on building sustainable, revenue-driven, people-first organizations. They are focused on growth at all costs. And unfortunately for these organizations, their people become just a number during hard times. Yes. So I read this post, Noah, and I think, like so many people right now, I’ve also seen these rounds of layoffs. And it also seems that they keep coming. So yeah, this post did something to me in a way, and I really felt like talking to you about this and about this topic more in general. But perhaps, yeah, you can maybe also explain a little bit more about why you posted it, and what was your idea behind it.

Noah Warder: So Guusto was the third tech company that I’ve kind of worked for in my formal HR career in tech. The first one I worked for, we did something similar to what a lot of companies do right now. We raised our Series A. We burned through it all. And then we had to lay off a bunch of people. And it kind of opened my eyes to the problems with the VC model. And then I’m seeing this all happen again, over and over again. And one of the reasons I joined Guusto is because we’re not a VC-backed company. And so I wanted to join something where a board wasn’t the one telling the company how to run. The founders weren’t distracted by creating board reports and board reviews once a month. They could solely just focus on building the company and building culture. And so that’s sort of why I joined Guusto. So if we look at the past two years where we had this pandemic hit, and there’s a bunch of layoffs, and everything went kind of off-kilter, and then we hit this unprecedented growth, and people were raising rounds of money, and all these companies were touting how great they were, and all these benefits, and everyone was talking about how there are people first. And then, as soon as the hard times come, the first thing they do is start laying people off. So I think it touched a nerve a little bit with me where I was like, it really did upset me as a people leader and an HR professional. And like, there’re a lot of companies that are positioning themselves as people first. They have different pertinent security perks, but they don’t actually care. And then what they do is they start laying people off. They’re not talking about furloughs. I’m not talking about reducing bonuses or removing bonuses. They’re not talking about executive pay cuts. The first thing they do is lay people off. And I’m sure some companies are trying to do all those things. And there were a few people who shared stories in the comments on that post that there were companies that did those things. And they did that at the beginning of the pandemic, as well. And amazing, I’d love to see that. But I think the majority of companies, that’s the first thing you want to is like, we’re spending too much money, what’s our biggest expense? Always payroll. And so let’s cut that down. And it just kind of touched a nerve. And the thing is like a lot of social media posts that people put up out there, they sit and craft them for hours, and they get their marketing team to do that. This one, I kind of just shot it out there. Because I was just like, I’ve had seen all these posts about layoffs and people being devastated by it. And I feel like something needs to be said,

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah. And as one of the many people who read that post, I read it, and it was, yeah, I could feel it. It was, I think, something that came straight from your heart without wanting to sound it to you. But that’s how it came across. And I saw that it resonated very much because you got a lot of reactions. And a lot of people, I don’t know how many hundreds of comments you got. And I actually read through quite a big part of them. So it really resonated with people as well, if we maybe take a step back now for a second and we look at the VC model of building companies today. What are some of the things, in your opinion, that are wrong with that model? I mean, we’ve just mentioned one, of course.

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Noah Warder: Yeah, I think growth at all costs. I think that’s one of the biggest things. I think the other part that frustrates me the most about the VC model is that I see these companies that they’re not being smart about their problem-solving. The thing that they do is they’re just given a bunch of money. And they just throw money at the problem. And they just continue to rely on outside funds and not really sustainable growth. They’re not focusing on revenue and are client-driven. It’s all about growing their numbers. And I think that’s one of the biggest problems with the VC model. Because it rewards growth, it doesn’t reward sustainable business models. And I think that’s the biggest issue with the VC model. The other part of it is, I think you see the founders, especially younger founders, they’re given all this money. They’re told that they’re super intelligent, their ideas are the best, and that they’re going to change the industry. And so they kind of get this bit of a god complex going. And so they have a hard time taking feedback because they’ve gone through this round of funding where everyone’s told them, amazing, here’re hundreds, 10s of millions, whatever you want to call about it. But for that to happen, somebody, especially a younger person, it’s hard not to get a little full of yourself. And then you’ve got HR professionals and professionals who I hope, I hope, are the ones trying to be the canary in the coal mine saying, Hey, this is not sustainable, this isn’t working. We got to look at what’s going to happen in the future. We’re hiring too fast. Our culture is being devastated. And the founders are just like, Nope, I know what’s best. I’m doing what’s right. My boards, everything I’m doing right, as a board just wants an exit. They don’t really care about what’s happening in that organization. They want a big exit because they want to make money on their investment. Yeah, the company is just an investment to them. It’s not a group of people. It’s another number.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah. So yeah, I think that is very well put, actually. And so if you look at it like that, perhaps these are actually two things that are not reconcilable. You know, because for them, it’s an investment. It’s not about people. So how can we then even build a company that is about people? Do you think that’s even possible in that model?

Noah Warder: I do. Because I think there are some stand-out examples that can do this. And I think it’s all about how the founders approach it. If a founder is going to raise VC capital, the best thing to do is to build a sustainable business that is revenue-generating, that is, you know, doing all kinds of great things. And then you go raise around the capital, and you’re not beholden to the board in the same way, you don’t have the pressure of having to exit, because you’re still kind of the master of your company, you own that company, you’re doing what you need to do. But if you just raise money on an idea or an MVP, you really have to do what the board says because they own probably the majority of your company at this point. And so I think in that scenario, where you’re raising money really early, and you’re raising money to stay alive, then you probably won’t be able to create a system that will cut a company like one pass, or if, like, they were profitable, they have grown really well. And I think they’ve raised one, maybe two rounds of funding. So they’re very much in control of their company. I don’t think the VCs are able to tell them what to do because they have proven they know what to do. So it’s very much like, I would take money from you to accelerate things, but I’m gonna do it my way. And the investors are like, Yeah, I want to be part of this, because we’ll look how much profit you’re making. And then I think in that case, the VCs may not be looking for an exit, they might be looking for confidence based on their investments. So getting dividends or kickback, or whatever you wanna call it.

Neelie Verlinden: That is a positive thing to keep in mind, even though it might be a rare occurrence for now.

Noah Warder: Yeah, I think it is possible. 

Neelie Verlinden: Good, nice to know. Noah, if we look at the role of HR and hiring managers in this and within this, I mean, specifically in, you know, when they are trying to find people to join the company, do you see a role for them in being more transparent upfront about what to expect from working in most of the VC-backed companies? And by that, I mean, you know, if the goal is just to exit in three or four years, perhaps they should already be transparent about that. What are your thoughts on this?

Noah Warder: Yeah, I 100% agree. I think the more transparent you can be in the hiring process and talking to candidates, the better. We find a lot of young people like us. Still, we give equity within our company. But we also give people a choice when we give an offer. We say, here’s option A, which is your base, your bonus, and your equity. And here’s option two, which is your base, your bonus, and extra-base if you don’t want equity because we know not everyone wants that and not every startup is successful, and so on, so forth. And then we do a very large presentation on the pros and cons of equity, the upsides and the downsides, the risks, and what it all means. And we fully disclose, you know, how long the cliff is, how long the vesting period is, how long the execution data is if you leave the organization, and sort of like what the tax implications are if you execute on those shares after you leave the organization. And so I think having those very upfront conversations about what equity is and isn’t. And though it is a very, very risky thing to do, and that I think a lot of companies still do this, where they talk about equity as almost like cash, especially, for instance,  in the startup world. Which it isn’t. It’s worthless until a company exits or IPOs, or does whatever. And we know that 1% of companies actually get there. And so it’s really a lottery ticket. And that’s what we tell people, that this was equity, it’s a lottery ticket, and you should treat it as a shot. And so if you have the ability to do that, then I recommend taking this, but if you don’t, if you need cash now, here’s another option for you. And I think it would be better served if more companies took this transparent educational approach to what equity is. And also, as you mentioned, kind of what is the roadmap like, and what is the goal of this company? Are we going to exit? Are we going to IPO? Or are we just looking for profitability and to grow sustainably? And you know, different people will want different things. And so it’s really about letting them make an educated decision. I really disliked the thing: we’re on a rocket ship, and we’re going to change the world, and you’re gonna make a big by staying here. That very rarely happens.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, I so agree. And I actually love how you guys have these options, actually, for people to choose from at Guusto because yes, not everybody is necessarily interested in the equity option. So it’s really nice that they actually can choose the option not to go for the equity. But very important here as well. At least they are enabled to make an informed decision about it as well. And they do not believe that the equity is going to be their golden lottery ticket or anything. No, but I mean, sometimes I think people do think that that’s the case when it’s not and then yes, as well about what is the plan for the company so not really that long ago, I was talking with somebody who was seeing if I was interested in joining their company and it was also a VC-backed company and he said like okay, yeah, so we just got a round of funding. Now the plan is to just burn all that cash next year. We have the next round, so I wasn’t already thinking, okay, and that is, yeah. And in three years, we want to exit. I was like, I don’t really want to work for that place. Well, first of all, I wasn’t really interested in joining that company in the first place. But that’s still I do not want to work for a company personally where the only goal is to exit in two or three years because then I feel like I will be building something together with people in the company. And I would be putting, like blood, sweat, and tears in it, for what, just for it to, so to speak, go to waste into three years? I don’t really see the point of that. But maybe there are people who are perfectly happy doing that. But at least I think this is something that people should know before they join. Right? 

Noah Warder: Yeah, I agree. And I think that more and more people are looking for that purpose in their work. And if the purpose is to exit in three years, then it’s like, okay, sure. But I think you also have to educate people on the eventuality that their employee options will actually pay out. Because if you’ve raised a Series C or series D, the likelihood that an employee will actually get paid out is pretty low. You have to like really sell for a lot if the employees are getting paid, because every investor and the founder are all gonna get paid out before those employees. I think that’s another piece of the puzzle that is very rarely talked about is like knowing what preferential shares actually mean. And what they look like, and who was gonna get paid first and second, and third, and last?

Neelie Verlinden: Yes. Exactly. No. So, yes. We mentioned at the beginning of a conversation that, you know, a lot of these VC-backed companies, they’re not necessarily people-first, sustainable, and revenue-driven. But maybe we can talk for a moment about how could they become more people-first, sustainable, and revenue-driven? What are your thoughts on that?

Noah Warder: I think the growth at all cost model is the part that really, really doesn’t work with people-first organizations. Because you can’t build a great culture when you’re growing at speed. It’s impossible because you can’t hire enough people to create the frameworks and the processes and everything you need to fully sustain and support all the people that you’re bringing on. Really quickly, you can do it pretty well. But I think a lot of things fall through the cracks because you’re just focused so much on hypergrowth. And you can see it in retention numbers and companies that are generally hypergrowth-focused, the retention numbers are generally not that great. And I think companies that focus on more sustainable growth, and you know, that might go through a hiring sprint, and then a cooldown period where they allow the team to kind of like mash and work together and build relationships, and then go through another hiring sprint, I think those companies are better set up for success because you build resiliency and relationships and trust within an organization. I think having that sort of model doesn’t always work well with a VCs board model, which is growth at all costs. And I think there’s this other strange thing that we see on job posts on LinkedIn, which is like, in the past six months, we’ve hired through other people, it’s like, I don’t know if I want to work for a company that’s done that because it probably just comes to us. And so it’s organized chaos, and you talk to people who want to work with these companies. And they’re like, yeah, no one knew what was going on. I might have gotten my onboarding package, one with my laptop and all that kind of stuff, and had a buddy, but that buddies only been there for six months. And so they can’t even answer all my questions. And so you have this kind of, like, perpetual feedback loop of like, it just doesn’t work very well. And also, people teams are generally under-resourced in those organizations where you’ve got like one HR critical person per 100 to 200 employees. There’s no way you can support that many people sustainably. And well, at that point, you’re really just like surface level, we’ll make sure that the house isn’t burning down. Yeah, you’re not actually building relationships with people in the organization.

Neelie Verlinden: No, they’re definitely not. No, we recently spoke on a podcast with somebody, and she was also mentioning, not in this context, but she was mentioning some companies that have one HR person, and then I think not even just one to 100 or 200 people but sometimes even more. It’s impossible then to take care of every single person, let alone have older people in the organization. It’s just not something that is feasible.

Noah Warder: No, no, you need to, like we are, you know, in the 50s. We have two people. That’s one for 25 employees. And we’re able to have touchpoints, like two solid touchpoints or a point with every employee in the organization. And as we scale the organization, we will continue to try and uphold that ratio of one people person for 25 to 30 employees. Because I think that’s important because if employees feel that HR and the people team are on their side and are there to support them, and has positive meetings and positive relationships with the HR team, their retention rates skyrocket. I was listening to a podcast. And it was really interesting to hear that, I can’t remember his name, but he was one of the lead data scientists for Gallup. And they found that the two main predictors of retention were 51% manager relationship and 49% HR relationship. So if an employee has a really great relationship with HR and an okay relationship with their manager, that’s like a 75% rate that hey’ll stay. If they have a good relationship with both, they’re in that 90 to 100% rate to stay with the organization. So it’s really important that HR also builds sustainable relationships with employees across the organization. HR needs to elevate themselves as just as competent and just as important as every other business function. So they need to be using data to make the decision needed to be more involved. They need to think about business and strategy and people all holistically. And I think a lot of HR, especially traditional HR and corporate HR, have been client-focused. How do we not get sued? How do we make sure that we follow the letter of the law? That’s the job. And that’s a very important function of HR stuff. It’s a function, but it should not be their whole focus. I think the future of HR, which, I think, is happening now. The evolution of HR is really more about there are multiple pieces of it, there’s that compliance part. But there’s also talent acquisition, there’s employee engagement, there’s D&I, there are employer needs, there’s candidate experience, there’s retention, and then there’s revenue, as well as that. HR has always been looked at as this revenue suck. It just costs money. I think we need to flip that on its head because HR brings in people and keeps them there. So they’re actually the main revenue generating function of the business, because they’re the ones that bring in the people and keep them in the organization so they can do their jobs to generate the revenue. So it’s like we’re playing a few steps back. But I think that the mentality that HR just costs money needs to change, whereas HR is actually the main revenue-generating function of an organization. It’s because we’re so far removed from it. It’s hard to really connect the revenue dots. But if you really look at retention rates and productivity rates and really, really take a more data-focused approach to HR and people, you can kind of start tying all that together. And I think that’s where the evolution of HR is moving towards as more of a business function, and less of this compliancy touchy-feely thing. And there’s actually just a really terrible post on Twitter and LinkedIn from SHRM. So they were asking HR professionals how they are an HR diva. It is an exclusive story. It undermines what HR is trying to do and makes it the office mom again. And so it was just eviscerated on LinkedIn and Twitter. And so many people were just like, this is terrible. How can you certify HR professionals and make a post like this? And so I think that is telling of where HR is going as people are like, no, this isn’t who we are anymore. We are just as important as everyone else. And we are professionals that approach business strategy in the same ways your CFO and your CRO and your CMO and your CTO and your CPO are at the playing field and are starting to be paid at the same playing field as well. The founder has a lot of responsibility in this as well. And I think I touched on this a little bit in one of my earlier answers of like, I think if the founder is focused more on building that initial revenue generating model of their company and then raising money, they would have a bit more of that people-first approach and realize that revenue is the goal, not just growth. I think the problem is that in our current climate, and like you said, a lot of people are just looking for that lottery ticket. A lot of founders are looking for that large ticket, and you’re getting people like straight out of university who have actually never held a real job as founders, and then they try and run a company. And I think that is a big problem, and their board is not doing them any favors by telling them how great they are, and to just focus on growth because it’s not sustainable. And then these founders don’t listen to the canary in the coal mine with the best HR or more seasoned executive, or whomever they just kind of pull forward and do whatever they think is right. I think the general message from VCs needs to change as well because you have these people coming out of university. And they’re just been inundated by this message of like, grow, sell. And then you know, you get to be the kind of the newest tech star, who gets to be a Twitter celebrity and talk about how amazing their success is because they sold the company to a company for X millions of dollars. So I think there needs to be that mentality shift.

Neelie Verlinden: Thank you for that, for that answer. Now, we are going to slightly change tack here, because, unfortunately, we might continue to see more companies laying off people in the months to come. But I was still hoping to maybe give the people in the audience some tips, especially if they find themselves in the people teams in these kinds of companies, maybe they can play or try to play a more active role in steering these VC-backed companies towards alternative options, rather than immediately going to the option of letting people go. Do you think that’s possible, first of all? And second of all, how would that be possible?

Noah Warder: I think it was possible. I think, like, we saw some examples of it in the comments of the LinkedIn posts that I put out. And so I think that it is definitely possible. I think HR’s role needs to be proactive, forward-looking and saying, okay, is this sustainable? Can we keep doing this? You know, we look at society in general. It’s kind of in chaos, there’s a war going on in Europe, and there’s a lot of dysfunction going on in the United States. There are a lot of things happening all over the world and that can’t be sustainable. So we need to be a little bit more proactive in looking at things. And there are lots of ways to cut costs without laying people off. And I talked about a couple of them in that post, which are furloughs, unpaid furloughs. So asking everyone to take a couple of unpaid weeks off, or four weeks off, or whatever it looks like, and working with your finance team to figure that out. I think that a partnership needs to happen between HR and finance. And so looking at finance mean, like, Hey, this is where we are. These are our revenue goals for the year. At what point do we need to start cutting costs? And what are the different levels of cutting costs? And how can we do that in other ways without actually hurting people? And I think that partnership in that conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later. And I think a lot of companies also have a lot of techs, and subscriptions, and things that they’re paying for that they probably don’t need to pay for, or could reduce, move down to the lower tier or whatever. So I think you need to take up kind of a really holistic approach of like, okay, what tech do we have? What is a must-have? Or is it nice to have? Stop approving new tech unless it’s absolutely necessary. Look at bonuses. Can we call off those bonuses? Talk to the executive team, and look at what teams and what levels of seniority cost the most amount of money and ask those people about taking pay cuts, and furloughs and all those things, and what can save the company the most amount of money. There are a lot of things that you can do without laying people off. And I shared a couple of examples in my posts as well of companies that did this. And I think if you do it well, and you bring the company together, you can create a culture that is so strong. And when you come out on the other end of this, your company is positioned so much better than your competition because you haven’t lost all of that intelligence and all that industry knowledge in your organization like all of your competitors have by laying people off. So when you come out of the recession, you’re just poised to do so well and have so much more success and outrun your competition. 

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah it’s like people in a marriage ride when they go through a rough patch. And then when they actually manage to come out of it, then they’re stronger than ever. And it’s the same with this. If you manage to go through a period like that as a company and you will manage to keep your people that that will create such a strong bond that afterward, they will be able to take on anything. I think that is the positive side of it. 

Noah Warder: Well, it builds so much trust within the organization between leadership and the whole organization trust. I really believe it is one of the biggest definers of a successful company. If you have a lot of trust within your organization, you will be successful. 

Neelie Verlinden: Oh, 100%. But the topic trusts in itself warrants for an entire episode at least, but yeah, I do totally agree with you on that one, Noah. This is a, let’s say, a bit of a lighter part of our podcast. And it’s where I get to ask my guests a few things. And the first one is what do you believe is the biggest cliche that exists about HR?

Noah Warder: There’s a few for sure. I think the biggest cliche about HR is that they’re like a rule enforcer. They’re there just to tell you what you can and cannot do. I like the classic example is like, when we were still in offices, that everybody’s been in the, like, the break room, having lunch, chatting, and having a good time, HR walks in, and it goes silent. And it’s like, oh, I tried to stop talking. I think that is, unfortunately, that cliche exists for a reason. But I think it’s changing. And I think a lot of companies aren’t like that anymore. But I think it still exists. I mean, you watch the office. And it’s that exactly, that is the biggest cliche of HR.

Neelie Verlinden: Thank you. Thank you for that. And then the other thing that I always like to ask is, what is an epic fail and an epic win that you would like to share?

Noah Warder: So let’s start with my fail. So when I was in the hospitality industry, so this is before tech, and I failed, the time I fail every day, I make mistakes. And one of the things I love about this was that we talked about that openly. And I think that’s a nice thing about our culture. But when I was in the hospitality industry, I was trying to open my own restaurant, I had a partner who was a chef, we had a business model, we had proved successful, we were running for the hills, we’re doing great. And then we decided to bring on some investors. That was my biggest mistake. We talked to these investors, they wanted a big chunk of the company. And this was when I was pretty young like I was in my early 20s. And we got to the point where, you know, I was ready to sign a lease, I’ve been buying equipment, I had a character who was purchasing materials, and it was all ready to go. And this investor Ken Smith convinced me not to take a bank loan, not to do all these things. And I’ll say, alright, you just need to sign the forms, give me the money, and I can start. I can sign my lease, and we can start doing all the things that we need to do. And they said, we’ve changed your mind. And so at that point, I was out of pocket like 10, 20 grand, and it was just like, there was nothing I could do. I had no legal recourse. I couldn’t do anything. And so that was a major learning moment. And it’s one of the reasons that I got into tech. I have this knowledge of what investors do to companies. Sometimes it hurt when it happened, for sure. Yeah, so I had to kind of give up on that dream of owning my own restaurant, which in hindsight, was probably a good thing. Because running a restaurant is a labor of love but is not a life. You don’t make a lot of money. And it’s really hard. And I think the pandemic showed us that it’s even more difficult for so many reasons.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, absolutely. But who knows, maybe one day, Noah, you know, in the next life.

Noah Warder: It might. You know, my tech lottery ticket.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, exactly. Who knows? And is there also an epic win that you’d like to share with us?

Noah Warder: One of the biggest ones that I have, even though I’m not part of it anymore, I helped co-found a company called Battle Snake. And this started at one of the first companies I’ve worked at, where we took a community event for developers to get together and just have a good time and do some programming and learn. And we built that company. So I went on to found this company, and we were able to grow it and do all these things, and then the pandemic hit. But I think that is one of my biggest and proudest moments. I took this thing that was started as 50 developers in an office doing to what has become 1000s of developers across the world, programming and learning together. And it’s actually like a really wholesome tech community, which doesn’t happen a lot. A lot of tech communities can become very toxic. And this one is very open. It’s very welcoming. And it’s all about learning together. It’s not about who’s the best. There is a competition element to it. But it’s more about teaching each other learning new skills. So I think that’s one of the proudest things that I’ve done as well in my career.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, I mean, I totally understand because that sounds like a beautiful win. So thank you so much for sharing that with us.

Noah Warder: Thank you. My kids are definitely the proudest thing I’ve ever done. And they’re, you know, they teach me every day, and there’s my biggest win in life for sure. 

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, I can imagine, Noah. So that brings us already to the end of our conversation. Thank you so much for joining me today. And thank you for talking to me about this topic.

Noah Warder: Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed it. And I think this conversation needs to happen more often at all levels.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, absolutely agree. So you know, we might do a second one at some point. Thank you. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in today. Thank you so much for watching. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did, and if you did, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel, hit that notification bell, and share this episode with your friends and colleagues. Thank you, and see you soon for a new episode. Goodbye!

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