23Sep

Lesbians Who Tech Summit SF // Danae Ringelmann

Danae Ringelmann, the co-founder of Indiegogo is a culture changer. Prior to starting the crowd raising company that revolutionized the way money is donated, Ringelmann, In the wake of 9/11, Danae co-produced a concert reading of Incident at Vichy, an Arthur Miller play addressing the politically charged topic of racial profiling. She is a Morehead Scholar and holds an MBA from UC Berkeley.
Ringelmann begins her talk with sharing that paying attention to culture is important when building a startup or a non-profit. However, before diving into that she briefly speaks to the difference of the former species of Neanderthals and Cromagnon, Neanderthals failed to evolve. They failed to evolve because they failed to come together as a species and develop communication whereas the Cromagnon survived because they came together and created a culture. Likewise, culture in any work environment can be detrimental or can help it thrive. Indiegogo for example, according to Ringelmann has a culture of innovation, where all people win and nobody loses by raising money. She says that all that can exist within a company is a strong culture and a weak culture. “A strong culture” she says “is where the values and behaviors of the people that are in the company align with the values and behaviors that need to be exhibited everyday for the company to win.”
Ringelmann recounts a moment when she was having dinner with a group of entrepreneurs and a man at the table said that culture was number 11 on his top 10 to-do list. Ringelmann set the man straight and told him that he was making culture whether he was intentional about it or not, and he’d better start getting intentional. She recounts the moment where her and her co-founders needed to decide what their culture would be. She gave them all pieces of paper and said to write or draw or depict their answer to the question,”I love working at Indiegogo because…” in five minutes or less. What they discovered was that they were all interested in working for indiegogo for the same four reasons, to challenge the status quo and be fearlessness,to bring their whole selves to work and be authentic, collaboration, and empowerment which ended up with the acronym FACE. The team changed the way they hired because they realized they wanted a diversity of talent and skills but, not a diversity of mission and values.
Ringelmann says the biggest takeaway from forming culture is that defining their mission and values defined the way they ran their company, the strategy they took, the way they hired, the way the office measured success, and the way they thrived. One of her most important facts that she closes with, “49% of all successfully funded projects were run by women.” She says that a culture of empowerment, instead of domination is where she sees a shift in workplace culture coming.