Emma is the co-founder and CEO of Offsyte. Before Offsyte she worked as an engineer turned engineering manager at Lyft.
Author: Ramona Arora
What is Offsyte? Offsyte is the one-stop-shop for discovering and booking high-quality team-building events. Our virtual team events include anything from mixology classes to online escape games, cooking classes, group meditation, and more. It is so important to bring teams together remotely and help teams bond and engage outside of a work setting. Book your next amazing team offsite here.
What was your inspiration behind building Offsyte? As an engineer turned engineering manager, I have planned and attended many team offsites. Every single time, it’s a struggle to find something cool and creative to do in which everyone on the team can have fun. Oftentimes we ask around to see what other teams did. Then booking the event is almost always a very tedious and manual process, a lot of calling and emailing the vendor, then getting the receipt and expensing it is manual too. I just thought there had to be an easier way but I couldn’t find a solution. That’s how Offsyte was born.
How did COVID-19 change your vision for Offsyte and how did you adapt to it? Offsyte was started just a few months before COVID-19 hit, initially as a platform to discover and book in-person team events. We were getting ready for our beta launch, the platform was ready, our beta vendors were ready. Then the shelter-in-place order happened. A few weeks later we realized things were not going back to normal anytime soon. I vividly remember sitting at home thinking: man, people say starting a company is hard, and I couldn’t have picked a worse time to start Offsyte. But we then quickly pivoted to virtual team events first and very successfully launched our beta. We realized quickly that, because of COVID, even more companies are looking for ways to help their remote teams stay connected while socially distanced at home. I actually felt lucky that I left my full-time job before covid because I had no choice but to pivot quickly. You worked at various tech companies before founding Offsyte. Did you always focus on team-building activities as a leader and if so, why? I always really enjoyed working with a strong team, either as an engineer or an EM. I had worked with some really great teams where everyone was so smart, hardworking, but we also had a lot of fun outside of work. These teams also tend to have the biggest business impact and their promotion rate is higher. It makes total sense: when people are happy at work and feel challenged, they achieve great results.
Team building activities are a great way to boost team morale and to break down barriers. I mean… come on! How can you not love your team when everyone gets their hands and faces hilariously dirty at a pottery-making class, or when you invest a day of your time together giving back to the community. High functioning teams make successful companies.
What are some of your favorite activities from Offsyte? Personally, I’m a big magic nerd (a story for another time) so I like magic shows. I also like any kind of virtual games, escape games, or cooking classes where we can all get the material kit shipped to us beforehand so it’s really easy to prepare.
I know my co-founder Jon is a big fan of mixology classes and he can now make really fancy looking cocktails that look just like our listing photos!
How do you keep yourself motivated and feeling empowered? Being able to make a difference really motivates me. This might sound cheesy but every time someone leaves a glowing 5-star review saying how much their remote team loved one of our events, I feel very energized, it feels as if I was a part of that team event. Sometimes a vendor will write us to just say thank you and tell us how we’ve become a crucial partner to their business. This feels very empowering because we are actually helping these small businesses through covid. It feels like we are actually making an impact, and that motivates me.
Any advice for other first-time female founders or career changers? Just do it! Write that first line of code, talk to your first customer. It can be scary to make a career change or start your own company because it’s something new to you.
It’s easy to find a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t do it, but if there’s one good one, just do it, make it happen.
You can read a hundred books on how to start a company, or how to make the career change (maybe to engineering, or from IC to management), but still have no idea where to start. So just start. Start writing code, start prototyping, start finding your first customer.
Article originally published on Products by Women
About The Author
Just another woman who appreciates kindness and is extremely curious about different perspectives/ "purpose of my life is to create awareness and impact "