At Shutterstock, we work to foster a culture of entrepreneurship within our business. For me, in-house entrepreneurship means we continue taking calculated risks in order to keep delivering cool new products for creative professionals. Here are some ways we accomplish this.
1. Hire disrupters.
When hiring, we try to identify people who are disruptive, but not reckless. I ask questions like, “If you were going to start a business right now to make $1 on the Web, what would you do?” We want people who will think creatively and change our business in a productive way.
2. Organize small teams.
We keep our teams small—usually 6 to 10 people—and do whatever we can to minimize meetings. Our product teams work in two-week sprints, setting goals up front, sharing daily updates within the team, and presenting their accomplishments to the wider company every two weeks.
3. Encourage a culture of hacking.
We have hackathons several times a year, and they’re pretty fun. We set aside a day when our staff can aim a 24-hour burst of creativity at projects they’re personally passionate about. Hackathons yield dozens of great ideas, many of which evolve into full-fledged releases. For example, the idea for our search tool originated at a hackathon.
4. Take bite-size risks.
There’s no entrepreneurship without risk. But we are looking for small, calculated bets, not mad gambles. We aim to be 1% more successful today than we were yesterday.
5. Don’t be afraid to be your own competitor.
In addition to Shutterstock, we also run Bigstock, an image site with pricing that’s attractive to small businesses, and Offset, a new site for prestigious, hard-to-find images. We much prefer to be driving changes in our industry, rather than reacting to disruptions from outside.
6. Incubate new businesses within your business.
Within Shutterstock, we have teams dedicated to new business. Our newest brand to emerge from this process is Skillfeed, an online learning site with crowdsourced video tutorials. The Skillfeed team is small and relatively autonomous within the company, which gives them the freedom to innovate.
As a company gets bigger, it’s becomes more and more important to encourage innovative thinking. That’s why we keep the engine of entrepreneurship spinning at Shutterstock.