It’s exciting to be part of a tech startup that grows quickly and successfully. But that means a lot of changes for the staff who began when the company was new. Druva’s controller, Anagha Dutt, explains how things have changed – and how they haven’t.
When Anagha started working at Druva in 2012, there were only 15 or 16 U.S. employees. The whole team fit into a small office in Mountain View: tiny desks, three conference rooms, a miniscule kitchen.
Now, just two years later, Druva has taken over a spacious office in Sunnyvale – well, it seems spacious at the moment. Anagha remembers the excitement when the interim office (just downstairs) had empty desks. “We had empty seats all over. But in six months the place was filled up.” The new offices are double the size, but at our current rate of hiring – enabled in part by new funding – this new office will get crowded, too.
Being part of a tech startup is exciting – and it also requires team members to be nimble! If you aren’t ready to embrace change, the transition from “tiny scrappy startup” to “successful enterprise tech company” can be rough.
So I asked Anagha about the ways the company has changed, and the ways it’s stayed the same. Perhaps her experiences can help people in other companies that are growing so quickly.
Q: How have your own skills changed?
I was hired in September 2012 to set up the U.S. accounting and finance infrastructure – everything from basic accounting, to changing the payroll system, to improving the benefits Druva offered. Anything that was required. It meant I had to get the right numbers, define which reports we needed, and build a financial infrastructure to scale for growth. For example, we have an expense-reporting system, not just a spreadsheet that employees have to fill out.
Now, I work more with the central corporate control. I pay attention to the worldwide financials, not just accounting system details. As we become a bigger company, the financial team is building an infrastructure that can scale to support to support our internal customers.
The fact that I started when the company was small has really benefited us – and me! It wasn’t just accounting, early on. I got involved in the HR process, because I needed to learn about benefits, for instance.
The long-term advantage is that I can understand the problems someone else is trying to solve, because I used to be involved with it. That gives me an understanding of how the whole cycle of sales works, and it helps me partner with the process. So I can answer questions outside accounting.
Q: How did new rounds of funding change the company and its culture?
Within the three or four months after I began working at Druva, we hired seven or ten people. Initially, everybody knew everyone else. Now, I’m not sure that I recognize everyone!
Because of the people at the top, I think we still have the same company culture. We still collaborate the way we did when everyone could fit into one crowded elevator.
The funding gives us more resources. For example, we still want to control the expenses. When we started, we had one thought process for money management: We spend the company’s resources the way we’d spend our own resources.
Even though we have new people coming in, this is how we want everyone to work. We pass on the same things we’ve learned. It’s important to know where you came from.
At Druva, everyone understands it’s a collaborative environment. It’s not about me winning or you winning, but everybody winning. There’s no team-vs.-team politics.
We’ve also stayed transparent in communication across the business: Everyone knows what’s happening. And we make sure the decisions we make are from the company perspective.
I suppose this is typical of a small startup in which everyone does “anything that’s required.” You can go into the job as an accountant, but you can’t think only as an accountant (and not 9 to 5, either). You have to think as the company. From the start, I’d go home and think about how things can be improved and what we can do. I still do.