How One Startup CEO Leads A Radically Remote Workforce

Ecquire working in redwoods paul dejoeCourtesy Paul DeJoeCEO Paul DeJoe, second from the right, leads a team meeting in the Redwoods.

When Paul DeJoe founded Ecquire, a startup specializing in sales productivity, in 2008, he didn’t want to resign himself to settling in the Bay Area and losing large chunks of his day commuting.

He wanted to be able to travel the world — and create an organizational structure that would allow his team to roam, too.

That’s why Ecquire, which has brought in $US475,000 in funding and grown to attract more than 580 paying enterprise customers, is set up so that team members can be anywhere and get their work done.

“We create an environment with people who love the idea of living wherever they want,” DeJoe tells Business Insider. “We can attract A-list talent if they don’t have to commute to Silicon Valley. We can pay them $US75,000 and compete with $US150,000 talent.”

To do so, Ecquire’s biggest workplace innovation is removing the workplace itself. This drives down costs in several ways, he says — no office to pay for, no distractions to retreat into headphones from, and no commute to wade through. DeJoe says the company is profitable and growing.

“We’re saving our customers time, so they don’t have to be bogged down in their workflow,” he says. It only makes sense for Ecquire to do the same for its team. Staying strictly remote removes both the “hassle of coming into the office,” he says, and “the hassle of trying to fit into a structure from the Industrial Revolution.”

To make the remote work actually work, DeJoe starts with keeping the team small. DeJoe says he’s “very picky” with hiring, and at just five people on staff, there aren’t too many logistics to deal with.

And even though his team is dispersed across North America, its members are able to work closely together through the popular task managers Trello and Flow. DeJoe likes Trello for the way it not only tracks the tasks the team is tackling, but it also provides an aggregate analysis of all the jobs the team is working through.

When an issue does come up, the team talks it through on a weekly phone call. Every Tuesday morning, team members have a 30-minute call to discuss any obstacles they’re facing and how to remove them.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, DeJoe brings everyone together in person every few months. T
he company foots the bill for employees to travel to some beautiful part of the world to code, bond, hike, and plan.

The daily grind in Tofino, British Columbia.Courtesy of Paul DeJoeA team meeting in Tofino, British Columbia.

So far, these weeklong retreats have happened in places like Tofino, British Columbia; Tucson, Arizona; and Sonoma, California, which was their
most recent destination.

“For us, it’s like fishing with your friends that happen to be intellectuals that are concerned about the same things as you,” DeJoe says. “Being in the same room for the week really builds the relationships.”

Not only that, the cabin retreats act like weeklong hackathons.

“We talk through how a new product would work technically,” he says. “We design it, scope it out, and build the minimum viable product in the same room.”

Then they all go back to their corners of the world, with a two-second commute from the bedroom to the keyboard.

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