Founders’ Reflections on Maple’s First Team Offsite
At the start of Feb, Co-Founder Joe and I hosted our first team offsite in Florida. We wanted to balance work and play; if it’s all bonding then you don’t drive lasting impact, whilst if its all work you miss out on team engagement and collaboration opportunities.
Over the three days, we ideated together, invited industry speakers to educate and inspire and we set 2022 goals, strategies and OKRs together. Play included our team taco night, kayaking through the Venice of America, and a visit to the Humane Society to give back and cultivate gratitude.
We picked an incredible 12 bedroom castle to host everyone. The house was four storey’s with a pool, hot tub, access to the river for kayaking and plenty of breakout areas for small group work. Being together in an incredible environment was essential for stimulating big picture thinking and creativity with Mapes flying halfway across the world to join us.
The week in stats
- 3.5 gallons of cold brew consumed
- 17 of 26 Mapes in attendance
- 286 beads of sweat were dropped at the F45 class
- 3 is the magic number. It’s the amount of people it takes to make a coleslaw, the amount of team members capsized and the amount of whiteboards filled from a governance brainstorm.
- 4 major problems solved
- 8 Awards given out for The Satoshi, The Fixer, The Eisenhower, Intrepid Explorer, The Trooper, The Point Guard, The Giga Brain, The Yeezy.
What did we learn about ourselves and about each other?
We learned that to build and support a high performing team, there’s no substitute for meeting in person. This was never more true than when we got together for a 2am bug fixing session because the website was incorrectly showing missed payments. Knowing people you can count on are under the same roof is an incredible feeling and makes for quick fixes.
We keep good company! Speakers from our network all generously gave their time to educate and inspire the team. Nic Carter, host of the On the Brink podcast and leader of Castle Island VC, Logan Jastremski ex product specialist at Tesla, professional swimmer, and Solana maxi, and Co-Founders of Meow, Brandon Arvanaghi and Bryce Crawford, joined us at The Castle. Logan shared the common traits of high performing teams based on his experience at Tesla and how individual team members set cultural standards and keep each other honest and accountable. Nic, Brandon and Bryce shared insights on how DeFi will evolve into a more efficient and democratic financial system, and the opportunity Maple has in being central to that future.
Cooking together as a startup in miniature. Begins with chaos and much googling of how to do things, from chopping cabbage to mixing margaritas. Then cooperation pulls order from the chaos and the beginnings of vaguely edible dishes emerge. Leaders take responsibility and small groups develop a natural rhythm as they start shipping salads and dips before the crescendo builds to the main launch, tacos!
What we took away is that an offsite is an investment in team morale to make the team stronger. Depending on who you talk to, perceptions of what an offsite is can range from concentration camp to an all expense paid vacation. But a successful one is neither. A successful one is an investment in the 60% of non-verbal communication that can get missed on zoom calls. It’s an investment in giving new team members context on how they contribute to a vision, and how we as an 8 month old startup got to where we are today.
Crypto startups are doubling in size every 6 months which means the number of new relationships increases exponentially. This makes it essential to run an offsite once a year and ideally every 6 months. Now was the perfect time to run our offsite because Maple has momentum, a bunch of new starters to drink the syrup, and is now running multiple projects at once; launching on Solana, building Pools V2, revising tokenomics, and shipping alt-coin pools. This demands seamless cooperation and trust between cross-functional teams.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast
We opened the floor to discuss what Maple excels at. Speed and focus were the hot topics.
Speed… we heard from Logan the importance which Tesla places on shipping improvements every week. There is a concept from fighter pilot tactics called the OODA Loop which holds that if you’re able to make decisions and iterate on them faster than your competitors then you can widen a small advantage into a chasm. Building speed into everything we do is essential to keeping ahead in the crypto space.
Focus… every major company or product began with a single killer feature. This is their wedge which they expand outwards from to dominate a sector. Time and again we see crypto startups barely land a punch with their first product and then already move on to the second and third because they’re actually a “studio”, “lab” or “launchpad”. True success will come from laser focus on a small number of decisive products or features that meet customers needs.
The third thing we excel at? Culture and Communication. We have placed a premium on staying in close communication and giving context on what’s going on to the different teams. It begins at the hiring stage when we discuss our values with candidates and test them on examples of where they exhibited them. We foster culture and communication deliberately through rituals like our weekly all-hands and the around the grounds updates. It’s a core part of remote working and what we’re doing seems to be working.
What was a memorable moment?
The kayaking expedition. Not so surprisingly, we’re a competitive bunch and had fun capsizing others, spotting iguanas, and paddling by a real life bored ape. The afternoon delivered!
We saw great leadership in action and people getting out of their comfort zones!
Tech Lead, Chad and full-stack developer Michael burnt the midnight oil fixing a bug at 2am.
Our newest member Quinn B who joined following the Avari acquisition pitched in across the board, from leading a discussion on governance to smashing the F45 circuit.
Special thanks go to Charlotte and Quinn T for pulling together an amazing 3 days of activities and focus sessions.
So what’s our focus for this year?
Be the dominant capital network for crypto companies.
The team in more detail
Maple is 26 people strong, with Mapes from BlockFi, Kraken, Bank of America, Microsoft, Gemini and MakerDAO to name just a few blue-chip orgs. Team profiles are shared on our site and we’re always hiring. We recently acquired Avari, an undercollateralized lending protocol built on Solana and founded by Stanford engineers.
Who created Maple?
Sid Powell is the CEO & Co-Founder of Maple Finance and with his Co-Founder Joe Flanagan founded Maple in 2018. Sid comes from a background in debt capital markets and institutional banking. During his career in traditional finance, he participated in $3BN+ of corporate bond issuance, established and ran a $200M+ bond funding program, and managed Treasury at a commercial lending FinTech company. Sid and Joe knew that Web3 tech could solve inefficiencies in traditional markets and developed Maple to bring debt-capital markets 100% on-chain using smart contracts to remove time and cost frictions, and blockchains for immutability.