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Reflecting on 7 Years: Defining the Culture of Propel

Since the very beginning, Propel's five core values have shaped our culture. Now, they're setting us up for the next chapter.

It began with 5.

Seven years ago I had some notes scrawled on a sheet of paper, support from key industry colleagues, and just about a month of groundwork, when I signed the incorporation papers for Propel on April 22, 2015.

My partners and I agreed we needed a foundation on which to build, beginning with a core set of values from which we couldn’t stray, that could provide steady guidance for each big decision.

The core tenets we jotted down in those early days were resilient in their timelessness but also adaptable enough to ensure growth and change: 

  • Courage to take risks and raise big ideas.
  • Curiosity to go where the industry hadn’t yet gone and to keep learning.
  • Honesty to be transparent in what we do and how we plan to achieve more.
  • Customer Satisfaction to put relationships at the center of business.
  • Accessibility to give everyone a seat at the table and a view behind the curtain.

And it was a good bet, because as we began to grow, I saw those five tenets reflected in each of our new hires. Both in their approach to the work, and in their own values as individuals.

With a newly incorporated Propel, we got to work getting our name out there. A few short months later, we were billed among the Featured Startups at Dreamforce 2015, Salesforce’s annual conference. Suddenly things were moving fast.

In 2016, we onboarded our first customers and started building the business – literally. We set up our very first office space, with help from my own family members to renovate the kitchen, and with each new hire constructing their own desk on their first day. 

As we grew, we got the work done by holding people accountable, challenging them, and trusting their insight. We held a singular focus on cultivating relationships: with customers, of course, but also with our employees.

After two years, we had our first development offsite in Utah. We planned more and more office gatherings and events. My favorite part? The big group picture we took at each one. I loved watching the team grow from photo to photo.

Then came 2020.

Not even five years old, the company was suddenly faced with a global pandemic. Industry-wide challenges ensued. An economic recession. Social uprisings. Labor shortages. A supply chain crisis. 

Our five tenets provided reliably solid ground in those first five years, but could they keep sustaining us through these massive upheavals?

Forced to go remote, we suddenly had so much distance in a workplace culture that had grown close-knit. Staff were dealing with the effects of the pandemic: struggles with mental health, major life changes, and grief.

So we doubled down.

Courage, curiosity, honesty, customer satisfaction, and accessibility. Each of these were tested in new ways, but with empathy in management, we endured these challenges – perhaps not unscathed, but certainly stronger for it. 

Our customers felt the uncertainty, too. Business as usual wasn’t possible anymore. Not only in our Propel bubble, but also in the manufacturing industry at large. 

Companies were looking for ways to survive in a supply chain crisis. They needed to be nimble; they needed configurability and they needed to meet the growing demands of their customers.

And so we found yet another point of pride: in so many delighted customers who had been feeling desperate amid changing market expectations, and were so relieved when Propel could provide true solutions. At our upcoming Propulsion event—our third annual!—these customers will get a chance to tell their stories.

Turning the page.

Despite these unexpected headwinds, we’re now growing at a rate 4-5x faster than competitors in our space. By renewing our commitment to our values, we strengthened relationships with our customers and with our employees.

Now we find ourselves stepping onto a new stage. Not just a startup anymore, we’re a force to be reckoned with. With acknowledgement from leading industry outlets like Deloitte and JMP Securities, we’re heading into a new chapter. 

Given all that’s ahead of us, I’m grateful everyday for our talented, dedicated team. We recognize and empower each of these amazing individuals, because these individuals are Propel.

So what’s next?

At the beginning of our seventh year, we’re hosting our 3rd Propulsion event on May 25th & 26th. The keynote speaker lineup is packed with industry leaders, gratified customers, and friends from Salesforce.

It’ll be two days of amazing expert speakers, guiding you through how technology accelerates revenue growth, increases margins and improves customer satisfaction. We'll also hear from our Propel customers sharing their inspiring product success stories.

Plus, we’ll be making some exciting announcements with some big things just around the corner! It’s free to attend and learn what’s next for Propel.

We hope you’ll join us there. 

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Post by
Ray Hein
Founder & Board Member, Propel

Ray is a SaaS veteran with 20+ years of PLM, development and product launch experience in both hardware and enterprise software organizations. Ray has held multiple executive positions at companies such as Agile Software, Apttus, Vendavo and Centric Software.

Fun Fact: Ray volunteers about two weeks a year with organizations like the American Diabetes Association, Family Giving Tree and Second Harvest Food Bank.

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Ray Hein