We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Wall & Courtney Jacobson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie & Courtney, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Culture is so important to the overall health and success of organizations. In fact, a positive office culture is becoming one of the biggest benefits that new applicants look for when searching for a job and one of the main reasons employees stay at or leave an organization. The idea for TheCultureBiz came out of a design thinking exercise to solve how we might help teams collaborate more effectively at work – the answer was to be intentional about organizational culture and do it through play. We compared successful teams, like firehouses, professional sports teams and theater ensembles, and the biggest commonality between them all was a strong culture developed through play and trust. In order to be high-performing, teams need to focus first and foremost on the people and make it a priority to help them connect and build trust to help drive synergy. It is also imperative, now more than ever as we navigate the work world in a time of crisis, to hone in on connection and culture. At TheCultureBiz, we believe play is the perfect avenue to build and maintain team culture. It is proven to relieve stress, improve brain function, boost creativity, provide energy and bring us closer to others. Building culture through play can also increase workplace happiness, reduce stress and help retain the best talent. In short, we want work to be a place where everyone is encouraged to use their diverse skills and strengths, and we know play helps lay that strong foundation.
What should our readers know about your business?
TheCultureBiz is a women-owned, Colorado-based and first-of-its kind business. All the activities that we provide in our team-building activity crates and workshops are completely original to TheCultureBiz, designed to help fuel connection, communication, innovation and fun at work. Our signature products are approachable, affordable and convenient. We were set to launch our business in May of 2020, but due to the pandemic, quickly pivoted to all virtual offerings to help teams navigate through unique and uncharted territories. We are proud of our collaboration and commitment to helping teams during an extreme crisis. Our first year and a half in business was not without challenges. As a primarily founder-funded business, we have had to pivot and iterate several times, and each time we do so, our business gets better and better. However, it is costly to make changes to our products and services and then to develop new materials. We are both moms (Courtney is a brand new member of the club!), and for a time, Katie had two kids learning virtually at home while still trying to build our business. We met virtually every free moment we could, and tried to remain creative and flexible. We could have been paralyzed by the timing of our initial business launch (and for a little bit, we were), but we found ways to continue to redevelop our initial concept to serve the changing culture needs of organizations. We continue to commit ourselves to helping teams combat the return-to-work hesitancy and anxiety. We know company culture used to be a luxury for some companies, and so powerful for those that chose to cultivate it. Now, we know it’s a necessity: Teams need to connect after such a long time apart, and we believe strongly (and have witnessed it first hand) that play is an amazing tool to help.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Both of us (TheCultureBiz founders) are moms, so our itinerary comes with some family fun, too. Stanley Marketplace is a must. They have something for everyone! Our favorite place to eat is Rosenberg’s Bagels. Pumpernickel Everything bagel? Yes, please. Riding around in a single surrey at City Park is magical (and a great workout, too), and the kiddos love the fountain by the Nature and Science Museum. You get to hear the sounds of the zoo, do some amazing people watching, and if you are lucky, catch a glimpse of some baby ducks and geese. We are suckers for supporting local restaurants, too, and one of our favorite restaurants is Tables in Park Hill. The farm to table menu is always incredible, and you can’t miss out on the homemade s’mores for dessert. Now that theater is coming back, we can show our support of the arts again in-person. Katie’s background is in theater, and she loves supporting local theater companies. We always recommend shows at the Denver Center or Arvada Center (but there are amazing gems at local theaters, too). Both founders went to college at CU Boulder, so we love getting back there for a chautauqua hike and a sub at Half Fast Subs on the hill.
Also, if we have someone new in town, we love to head up to Avanti in the Highlands for dinner/cocktails just around sunset. They have an amazing outdoor space with an absolutely stunning view of the city and the mountains. We’re also big fans of walking around South Broadway and poking around the boutique shops and looking at all of the amazing things local artists come up with (plus – a whole store dedicated to plants – a dream come true!). We also love biking on the Cherry Creek trail to see the city from a whole new view! And, depending on the activity level our guests are after, we’ll often take them hiking up Green Mountain or Sinatas in Boulder or on the Alderfor Three Sisters trail in Evergreen.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As a founder-funded startup launching just before the pandemic, we have to give a shoutout to our early supporters and adopters. We have many people (family, friends and colleagues) that have believed in us and in TheCultureBiz, and their support has kept us going as we have navigated through the constantly changing landscape of running a business during a pandemic. The silver-lining was that it pushed us to be more creative, innovative and iterate on our “version 1” of CultureCrate. We can confidently say that there is nothing like this out on the market, even if you scoured the internet. Lastly, we have had a few mentors that have given us their time and expertise – and we are eternally grateful: they helped our product get better, more relevant and even more approachable.
We are also self-proclaimed geeks of data and research around organizational psychology and the science of play. All of our activities are anchored in data so we can always make sure our product is not only relevant, but able to serve our customers well. In particular, we are raving fans of organizational psychologist, professor and accomplished author, Adam Grant. In fact, we listen to his podcast (Work Life – check it out!) on repeat, and are inspired by him on a regular basis. We also want to give a shoutout to our amazing team of consultants that help keep our business running. Bold Story Marketing and Persist Publicity (both local and woman-owned companies) have been incredible partners and collaborators in helping drive our vision forward and supporting us. Women supporting women truly makes everything better.
Kalen Jesse Photography / Soona