The Portland headquarters of online banking startup Simple feature an open office plan, Ping-Pong tables, and kegs of beer and Stumptown cold brew.
But, according to CEO Josh Reich, this isn't what makes Simple a good place to work.
There's a prevalent but incorrect idea that "If you dress up in the accoutrements of a startup you'll suddenly become hip and cool," said Reich, speaking at TechfestNW Tuesday morning.
Simple is a model for startup success. The company, founded in Brooklyn in 2009, offers online banking, surcharge-free ATM use, and a fiscal discipline tool called Safe To Spend.
Now, Simple boasts more than 100,000 customers and more than $1 billion worth of yearly transactions.
But when as startups reach a certain level of success, they have to contend with new challenges, such necessity of growth and acquisition by larger companies.
The question, said Reich, is how to maintain the company's quality, values, and culture through these changes.
"We set very clear goals as a company," Reich said. If a company has an environment with high employee agency and autonomy but no shared values, he said, "it becomes anarchy."
Two years ago, Simple was bought by European banking giant BBVA for $117 million. But Reich maintained that Simple's values are still priority one.
"If there's a threat to changing how we operate, we can push back," Reich said.
These same values are what drove Simple to Portland in the first place.
"We didn't want to become a New York financial services company," Reich said.