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April 6, 2017

Why We Believe in Purpose and Profit

Briana Sim
founder & COO / people advocate / office singer

When we started Radical I/O in 2014, we had this (dare I say it) ‘radical idea’ that engaging with purpose in our community and being profitable were not mutually exclusive goals. In fact, only through being impactful could we enjoy being profitable.

I was drawn to being a new female entrepreneur in tech because of the opportunity to shape my own organization’s commitment to people, culture and purpose from the start. Prior to this, I worked in various positions, from administrative to Human Resources and program management roles, and almost everything in between. What I first thought were a random collection of jobs, are now what I know to have been the perfect training ground to prepare me for the ever-changing responsibilities of Co-founder & COO at Radical I/O.

Those past roles allowed me to see and experience all types of workplace structures and cultures. What did I rarely see? Employees who felt like they were part of a true team, and whose voices mattered. Profitable companies that gave back to the community in ways that were meaningful, impactful and sustainable. Cheques and donations, sure, but there usually wasn’t a genuine interest in fostering long-term relationships for a better community.

My vision has therefore been to build an inclusive team that strives to make a positive impact and spark change. Change that is informed by the relationships we develop with each other, our clients, and our Vancouver-area community. Change through the digital products we get to design and develop that benefit society both locally and globally.

Where we are: building that vision

I’m proud to say that being deliberate about fulfilling our purpose has brought us that much closer to realizing our vision. We’ve built a strong foundation, and I see a clear path to where we are heading.

Today, we are a small yet mighty team. At just over ten people (and growing), we’ve succeeded in attracting positive and highly skilled team members who are committed to our core values of generating change and celebrating diversity in our community. We look for people who place a high value on integrity, building trust, communication, and respect. Curiosity, being self-driven, striving for growth, and wanting to contribute both to our team and our wider community are also important to us.

During our hiring process, we really get to know the individual and what makes them unique. How we do this is no secret - we simply have a two-way conversation tailored to that person’s background and interests - perhaps with a few guiding questions to help move the conversation along. Each conversation is unique because of our approach. There are no technical tests they have to study days for because, frankly, all that tells us is how well someone takes tests, not what type of person they are and what values they live. There are no trick impossible-to-answer questions where we try to see them perform under pressure of failing. Instead, we want each person to feel relaxed and comfortable enough to let their unique self shine through. We hire for a person’s potential (we want to be the ones to help them get there!) and for value alignment. Without these qualities and values, our focus on building a truly collaborative, positive and respectful team would not be possible.

Walking the talk

We spend this quality time in hiring because our team members are the core of our organization, and where we first practice living with purpose and impact on a daily basis. Together, we model the behaviour (or walk the talk, so to speak) we want to bring to the world. We realize that fostering change and purpose in the community requires commitment and time. By hiring “right”, by encouraging our employees to give back in their communities, and by creating the capacity to support social impact organizations in our work, we hope to establish and model this commitment.

For example, from day one we’ve provided our teammates with one week paid time off per year to give back to a cause they care about, such as volunteering with Peacegeeks or taking part in App Camp For Girls. In doing so, they are directly impacting their cause and benefiting society. This creates a positive cycle for Radical and for our communities - a cycle of purpose, a cycle of change - and helps attract clients who believe in such purposeful activity too.

This focus has allowed us to make meaningful connections with our clients and to produce exciting work to help tell their story on mobile and web platforms. Every new project we undertake brings us closer to living and working with purpose - either in the work we do to support social impact organizations - or through the apps we build that connect people and make their lives easier to navigate.

Where we are going: impact greater than the sum of our parts

Our goal is to stay small, efficient, and relationship-focused, so we’ll never become a tech company that hires 100 people overnight. We’ll continue to prioritize purpose over profit. We will strategically scale as needed with the right people and the right process. We believe these values will help us (and our community!) prosper and succeed in the long-term.

In the future, we will continue to work with clients who believe in building community and leaving the world a better place than we found it. We’ll continue to make Vancouver our home, but we’ll also broaden our focus to increasingly global issues where we can lead efforts in making an impact beyond our city and Canada.

Our vision is to change the way that technology, business, and purpose align. We will continue to work with those organizations and prioritize those projects that champion this approach. Our in-house team believes in this path, and we believe in them as unique individuals. They are what will help us create a positive ripple effect of impact and allow us to achieve more together than we ever could by ourselves. I’m grateful for what we’re collectively building and excited for what our future holds.

Questions about Radical I/O? Contact me here.

Technology. People. Purpose.

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