With a culture of ‘radical candour’, transparency and more-than-flexible working arrangements, Kanopi has won the Best Startup Culture category, sponsored by The Culture Equation, at the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards.
When runways are tight, the funding environment uncertain and everyone in a hurry to build, startup culture can be placed at the bottom of the To Do list by founders.
But when there’s no investment in culture, you’re placing dollars over sense and the impact can be disastrous for your company’s growth as productivity slumps, talent retention struggles and the bottom line bottoms out.
That’s why the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards chose to spotlight Best Startup Culture as one of the 10 award categories.
The winner, Melbourne insurtech platform Kanopi, is proof that positive startup culture is more than just a ‘nice-to-have’, but a fundamental for business success.
Led by seasoned entrepreneur Nigel Fellowes-Freeman, Kanopi is a data-driven insurtech company that connects insurers and digital platforms to provide a more seamless, tailored approach to customers. The embedded insurance startup rebranded from its previous name, Expense Check, in 2021, and its investors include Folklore Ventures, Hollard Insurance Company and Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited.
With a team of 14 staff located across Australia and overseas, Kanopi has made flexibility its main game. The company allows employees the freedom to work in the way that suits them best.
As part of the entry process, we asked all nominees in this category to share their own views on what makes their employer a great place to work.
Romy from Kanopi said she’s been able to grow in ways she “never thought possible” adding that “there is always a new challenge around the corner, and I know I have the support of my team and our CEO to be able to tackle it”.
Her colleague, marketing specialist Akanksha Baadkar, who accepted the award on behalf of Kanopi on the night, said that if she had to sum up their team culture in one word it would be ‘transparency’, which has in turn built the foundation of a healthy team culture.
“Working at Kanopi was the first time I came across asynchronous communication and it’s been a game changer,” she said.
“The flexibility and emphasis on individual working routines has given me opportunities to grow in ways I wasn’t able to access before.”
According to the Kanopi team, their goal is to foster an environment where all can participate in decision-making regardless of roles, and have discussions with “radical candour”.
The startup cites trust, transparency and collaboration as the drivers of their healthy workplace culture. How do they know? Their regular employee engagement surveys are sitting above a 9 out of 10.
Those who work in Melbourne have regular face time once every two to four weeks, while other initiatives bring the team together virtually to ensure the social connection is never lost. It’s resulted in what Kanopi see as a ‘truly flexible workplace’ that is virtual-first and outcomes-focussed.
After ccepting the Best Startup Culture award alongside head of design Micha Goldfine, Akanksha Baadkar said Kanopi has nailed a culture problem so many startups grapple with.
“When we talk about all of these initiatives that make flexible or remote work really appealing to a lot of the workforce, we really take that to the next level,” she said.
“We go beyond just our working lives and look at our employees’ wellbeing holistically. What is great about working at Kanopi is we all get to grow in the ways we want to grow, and we get to lead that discussion. I think that’s really special about working here and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that anywhere.”
Diversity is another area Kanopi excels at. Their team speaks 11 languages, across four continents, with more than 90% of the team born overseas. In a traditionally male-dominated sector, one-third of the team are women.
“I think inclusivity is very important, especially in a country like Australia with so many immigrants and the government allowing visas and all kinds of other initiatives,” added Goldfine.
The team also cited the strength of Kanopi’s learning and development opportunities, including lunchtime learning sessions, professional courses and events; and its wellness initiatives including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and access to a meditation app.
Other nominees for Best Startup Culture were:
Bridgit. The bridging loans fintech offers staff an Employee Stock Option Program and has diversity and inclusion initiatives such as Culture Days and Women at Bridgit.
SolveSquad. SolveSquad is an online platform connecting talent with opportunities for social change, focussing on helping skilled workers from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily, with the support of The Culture Equation.