President Obama - Capital Factory

Last week, WP Engine was very proud to have The President of the United States, Barack Obama, visit the Capital Factory startup offices. As an Austin entrepreneur, I’m very proud that President Obama chose to visit Austin, and our offices in particular. It’s an exciting time for the city of Austin, as well as for WP Engine, and the President’s visit provides a unique opportunity for us to comment on WP Engine’s approach to job creation.

WP Engine has benefitted from the community and resources in Capital Factory for the past 3 years as we’ve grown as a company. Our growth has been so exciting that we’ve just signed a lease on new office because we’ve outgrown the Capital Factory.

As Todd Park, the CTO of The United States noted, “the innovative spirit of Austin [is] a model for the rest of the country.” I believe that Austin is a repeatable model for the rest of the nation, not only for our technological innovation as a source of job creation, but also for the types of meaningful jobs that Austin startup companies, like WP Engine, are known for creating.

The President’s visit to Austin highlights the strong economic growth and job creation that come out of Austin’s culture of creativity and entrepreneurship. Since we founded the company 3 years ago, WP Engine has grown from our first 3 people, to now nearly 50 (and we’re hiring more every week!). We’ve not only created dozens of jobs, but I believe we’ve created jobs worth having.

Let me be specific. A startup founder has the privilege of deciding what kinds of jobs to create. As their startup grows from the first few employees to the first few dozen, the founder can evaluate the positive impact the jobs will have on their community, on their customers, and on the people who will fill those jobs.

President Obama - WP Engine

There is a series of questions we ask every time we decide to open up a new job description to maximize the meaningful impact of each position.

For example, we ask, are the jobs designed to empower customers? How will each job we fill help our customers achieve their own goals? After all, the startup should be doing something valuable for our customers, otherwise why are they paying us? With that in mind, how does each job track back to helping customers achieve their goals?

We also ask, how will each new job serve internal company metrics? Startups track a number of things from sales to website traffic to customer happiness.  But, unless we’re careful, running a company purely on metrics can miss the human element of job creation as well.

Furthermore, what kind of jobs will we create from the perspective of our employees? What will their work environment be like? Will it be comfortable and generous or spare and intense? When there’s a conflict between customer and employee, how do we resolve it? When things are going well, how do we celebrate? When they’re not, how do we knuckle down? What aspects of personality and behavior will we tolerate, and which are unacceptable? What does it mean to celebrate diversity in individuals and backgrounds, but unity in our culture and mission?

Each of those questions gets at what it means on a personal as well as professional level for our employees to accept a job at WP Engine. Having clear answers will mean we attract the right employees – employees that come to work excited, and who leave every day with a sense of purpose in their work.

We also hope that, even as employees leave WP Engine for their next opportunities, they’ll take these values and their training with them to their next job, or better yet, incorporate them into their own startup company! The goal is to create a virtuous cycle of startups and job creation.

As a part of the Capital Factory and the greater Austin startup ecosystem, we hope WP Engine can be a model for startups in cities across the nation to build companies that matter, not only for their founders, but for their customers, and for their employees as well.

Photo Credits: Nate McGuire and Alex Jones