Team bonding activities are a staple at any startup.
For engineers at Thrillist Media Group, the New York-based ecommerce and content site started by Ben Lerer and Adam Rich in 2004, team bonding comes with a healthy serving of bacon and eggs.
They call it a “Techfast.” One morning each month, the tech team comes together to cook a big, potluck-style breakfast.
“In this industry — and city — it’s easy to have team bonding happy hours, but it’s a challenge to find team activities that don’t center around alcohol and can include people who don’t want to give up time outside of work,” Annie Trombatore, Thrillist’s VP of Product, said to Business Insider.
Techfasts became a tradition by accident. A few years ago, the product team went out for drinks after launching a big new project that had kept them in the office late.
“While deep in ‘celebration,’ some of the guys volunteered to make everyone breakfast the next day,” Trombatore said. “No one believed them, but lo and behold, a portable griddle and literally pounds of assorted breakfast meats showed up.”
The team meal was such a success that they decided to do it on a more regular basis. Now it has become such an event that most of Thrillist’s 350-person staff attends.
“I think the first time we opened it up to other departments was pretty memorable,” Trombatore said. “They just didn’t realise how seriously we took it, which was fun to see.”
Each Techfast follows a theme, from a “Christmas in July” celebration with hot cocoa and Christmas tunes to a St. Patrick’s Day party where green pancakes are served.
The adorable Neptune, a golden doodle who spends his days at the Thrillist offices, is usually the star of the party. He even has his own title: Lead Pawgrammer.
At last year’s Halloween party, held a little bit later in the day, pumpkins were hollowed out for drinking games.
For June’s Techfast, the team went all out on the luau theme, making a palm tree-shaped tower of doughnuts and distributing leis to attendees.
Cereal was served from beach buckets, and people could help themselves to fancy tropical drinks.
“We try to make it as easy as possible for people to be involved, so while some people are more adventurous and choose to scour Pinterest and tackle some crazy, on-theme, frosted masterpiece, others simply reference the shared doc of needed supplies and pick something up on the way to work,” Trombatore said.
“It’s really amazing to work in a place where we can have such fun inside the office walls,” Trombatore said.
Neptune definitely had a good time, too.