Ben Brashen was born and raised in Bellevue, so it’s only natural he would headquarter his startup, CardTapp, in Bellevue, too. Brashen started his career in the mortgage business, but after launching a successful mortgage-calculator app in 2011, he transitioned to tech and hasn’t looked back.
CardTapp, launched in 2012, creates branded mobile apps for sales professionals, including mortgage brokers, real estate agents, insurance agents, and car salespeople.
Brashen said he will be hiring approximately 10 people every month for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, CardTapp has received a number of regional awards and recognitions for being a great place to work. What’s the secret sauce? Brashen has maintained a high-energy workplace, complete with a rally cry and competitive atmosphere for the sales team.
Workplace culture is important. “The growth is substantially based on our culture. People want to work here. You should feel like you’re not only being productive, but you’re enjoying doing it and you should feel good about the wins you get. We’re huge at celebrating victories and actions that have a positive impact, such as taking out the garbage, helping someone with their computer, doing the dishes, anything. We try to create this very rah-rah atmosphere for everybody.”
Every member of the team must be all in. “We want to make sure we have the right people, because whether it’s competition, market condition, pressure on price, or whatever it is, if you have to make a more substantial pivot than we’ve had to make, I think you can always do it. If your team becomes dysfunctional and doesn’t believe in each other, then you can’t. Every Monday we talk about a core value and talk about how the value ties to business objectives, so we’re over-communicating about our values and how that drives business. On Fridays, we have parties in the afternoon and we celebrate the ways people were adding to the value system, and what they accomplished through the week.”
Don’t worry about external validation. “We get a lot of internal validation, which is better for us. I’d rather be internally validated. The startup world is incestuous; the same people are involved with the same events and activities. We don’t do any of it because I don’t necessarily think that’s the best way for us to grow our business, hanging out with other startup founders. We don’t seek the outside-world validation; if our customers and employees like the product and they’re renewing every year, that’s all the validation we need. I don’t need other startup people to tell me that I’ve done something great.”
This article originally was published in the April 2016 issue of 425 Business.