Week 6 in Y-Combinator: Accelerator-ing while Remote

Val Yermakova

As a team, two of our strengths are process and being proactive about culture. From the get-go, we’ve been lucky to have a team full of Type-A calendar fanatics. But what happens when you face the intense demands of an accelerator while being remote? Here’s a glimpse into how Warmly has adjusted:

The Old Normal: In-Person Working

January — May

Since day 1 of the whole cofounding team working together, we have had:

Daily (M-Sat)

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Daily standup

Weekly

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Weekly mental health checkin
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During this time there are a variety of things we can do. The process for this has been iterated upon. The ‘basic’ check-in we do is fill out a sheet on 6 different parameters and rate our personal satisfaction with each parameter from 1–10. Then we go around and share our ratings.

I’m also incredibly passionate about Non-Violent Communication, Conscious Leadership, and Authentic Relating so often times I will create a workshop for the team to go through. Some examples are in my blog, valy.space. But most of them I’ve yet to make time to document properly.

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Weekly team gratitudes

During this time each team member takes a turn sitting in the “hot seat” while other people share a gratitude they have for them for something they did that week. At the end of each person’s turn, we bring our hands together and make a noise of their choosing — my “movement” is a ninja-style HIYAH!, Carina’s is a chicken noise and Alan forces us to beatbox. I won’t tell you what Max does, that’s top secret. Each new Warmly member creates their own noise that we use to honor the end of their gratitude.

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Weekly team learning retrospective

Here we reflect back on the week and write about all the things we learned. There’s never enough time for everyone to share everything they learned — it’s insane! We learn an astonishing amount over the course of a week.

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Weekly team bonding

Fun time! Each person takes a turn planning a team bonding event. We’ve done everything from learning how to draw, to kicking butt Wushu, to playing Jackbox, to yelling at each other over codenames.

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Weekly personal time

From January to May, we were working 7 days a week with only 8am-1pm on Sundays devoted to personal time.

Once we finished Techstars and hit May, this became too much and we were feeling the burnout.

May

For the month of May, we decided to take every Saturday and Sunday off.

The New Normal: Remote Working

June — Present

Then YC started in June and we added Saturday back into our schedules, but we still protect Sundays.

Because of COVID, we decided to shift the company to remote — at least until the world opens back up again. This means that our small but mighty team has dispersed across North America and our process has to account for 3 different timezones (ET, PST, HST). People in Hawaii are waking up at 4am while New Yorkers get to rise and shine at 10am.

To account for the lack of in-person interaction but also the zoom-fatigue, we’ve increased our opportunities for bonding but decreased the time of each event.

Today our process is:

Daily (M-F)

  • Stand-up

Weekly

  • Learning retrospective
  • Team lunch (NEW)
  • Team gratitudes
  • External gratitudes (NEW)

We added this in order to acknowledge all the external people who have been helping us along our journey. It really takes a village to make a startup.

Biweekly

  • Mental health check-in (NOW BIWEEKLY)
  • Team bonding (NOW BIWEEKLY)
  • Process retrospective (NEW)

During this time we discuss if there is anything about our process that needs improving. It’s time for people to discuss timezone issues, request to have fewer meetings, request more meetings, etc.

  • Market learning (NEW)

Absolutely essential. We are building a product for Customer Success and Salespeople and it is imperative that we maintain a consistent pulse on what these communities are discussing and feel are their most pressing issues. We are all responsible for finding an article, white paper, podcast, or blog post about a specific topic, ingesting that content and then teaching the rest of the team about what we learned.

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Our team event calendar (where all 15 people attend)

This processes, while ever-evolving to our current needs, help us stay a well-oiled machine and keep us accountable for maintaining an equitable and inspiring team culture.

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Team Warmly! We have some amazing people on the team! 😊 Besides the 4 cofounders (me, Max, Alan, and Carina), we have Zack crushing it on Eng, Amanda innovating on Growth, and Emily scaling our QA team. And we’re lucky to have 8 incredible interns join us for the summer: Carol, Sanil, Grant, Natalie, Brandon, Shahpar, Sushanth, and Hernan.

What happened in Week 5 of Y Combinator?

Check out my cofounder Max Greenwald’s post Week 5 in Y Combinator.

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Want to get in touch or send thoughts about the post? Would love to hear them at [email protected]

Written by
Max Greenwald
Co-founder & CEO @ Warmly,

Written by
Carina Boo
Co-founder & CTO @ Warmly,

Written by
Val Yermakova
‍‍
Co-founder & CPO @ Warmly,

Written by
Alan Zhao
‍‍Co-founder & VP Eng @ Warmly,

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