Culture Biosciences grows organisms for biotech companies, powering the research behind everything from plant-based meats to novel cancer treatments. Our cloud laboratory platform enables companies to easily make and scale bioproducts.
Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
EQ > IQ
We value kindness and empathy over intellect and strong opinions.
We want engineers to look forward to going to work every day. The biggest impact on that is always going to be the people you work with, which is why we place an emphasis on hiring people who are thoughtful, kind, and self-aware. We’re the antithesis of a typical bro-y startup – we care about you as a whole person, not just a resource. In other words, engineers are not just boxes that can be moved around on an org chart.
At Culture, we’re building bioreactors and cloud-based platforms that allow companies to easily make and scale bioproducts, powering research behind everything from chicken-free eggs and palm tree-free palm oil, to medicines, natural dyes, and more. Because our company is very engineering-driven (see more below), hiring empathetic engineers is critical. We regularly talk with our customers (in fact, we know many of them by name), so engineers can better understand their perspective.
Our interview process actively screens for empathy, self-awareness, curiosity, and kindness. It’s not about culture fit or a certain gut vibe; we use a specific rubric to assess empathy and self-awareness. It’s also designed so you can show us your best. Instead of all-day onsites, we allow engineers to schedule their final round interviews over the course of a week. Maybe you feel you do your best technical work in the mornings, or maybe you’d rather only interview in the afternoons.
Moreover, during times of turbulence, such as the events surrounding the death of George Floyd or the riots at the Capitol in DC, our CEO Will makes sure to check in with the team and reiterate that if you need to take time off and prioritize self-care, that’s more than okay. During the height of the pandemic when our lab shut down for three months, no one from the team was laid off. Not only that, but our founders also made sure to keep paying our temp contracting staff. Creating an environment where folks care about one another and have meaningful interactions not only makes life better, but it also helps us create the best product possible and succeed as a company.
We know you do your best work when you’re not overworked.
We believe in providing a flexible and low-stress work environment. We do an anonymous survey of the team to make sure we’re keeping a sustainable pace, and most engineers work 40-hour weeks. No one is expected to work late or on weekends and in addition to 3 weeks of vacation, we shut down for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Culture is also a great place for engineers looking to grow their families – we offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave for any parent who works here, regardless of caregiver status (including adoptions).
We recognize that for many people, Culture will be a stepping stone in your career. Our goal is to help you think through where you are now, where you’d like to go, and then help you build the skills, expertise, and experiences to get there. Your time here should be a two-way street, where you feel engaged in the work and supported as you grow, even if it’s into your next move. One way we’ll measure our success is through all of the great things our former employees go on to do.
Transparency starts at the leadership level.
Every few months we have an anonymous culture survey executed by a third party. Part of this survey is giving honest feedback to the leadership team directly, which execs then share with the company. Our leaders openly discuss the personal feedback they received even if it’s hard to share and talk about what they’re working on to address; the good, the bad, and everything in between. Everyone in leadership also participates in 360 surveys (also administered by a third party) so they can get even more detailed feedback about how to improve.
As a remote first company, we heavily favor communication via Slack, so you can really know about and get involved in anything you’d like. However, we’re very mindful of Slack fatigue and don’t expect engineers to always be online. We also try to move longer discussions to documents. Our physical office is there for those who would like, but it’s not mandatory since all of our hardware can be accessed remotely.
When we onboard new engineers, we intentionally connect you with lots of different people across the company so you can forge relationships and gain the context you need to succeed. Engineers are encouraged to jump in from day one and can always grab time on anyone’s calendar. We find that because you have so much power to get involved with any project at any time, it’s hard to become cynical. We’d be lying if we said complaints never happen, but it’s usually not long before we ask, “What can we do about that?” and often the answer is only a meeting or PR away.
Safe Environment to Fail
Mistakes are inevitable and we view them as learning opportunities.
Startups are inherently risky ventures and if we don’t take enough risks we won’t succeed. In order to support a culture of risk taking, we strive to create a safe environment to fail. For example, when we ship bugs, or accidentally cause outages we use those as opportunities to improve our process as a team rather than focus on the mistakes of any one person.
Postmortems are standard and we always use blameless language. Creating a place where people feel safe to take risks, make mistakes, and learn along the way is what allows us to iterate quickly and build the best product. In fact, one of our engineers actually set a personal goal “to make at least N mistakes this year,” which only underscores how comfortable team members are to take risks, reflect, and learn. At the end of the day, we take our work seriously, but we’re lighthearted folks.
We ask that you take a personal stake in the outcome of every project.
From the first spark of an idea all the way to completion, engineers are empowered to own projects. If you like to wear your product hat, your design hat, enjoy talking to users and getting involved in multiple different areas, you’ll fit in well here. For example Casey, one of our engineers, proposed the creation of a timeline feature to help our customers track the progress of their experiments. This ended up being one of our biggest and most impactful projects for the quarter, and he worked on it from idea through launch.
Our aim is to give you the autonomy to go forth and build great things within the context of company and team goals. But autonomy isn’t just coming up with the idea and putting something into production (aka the launch), you also have to own the final piece (the landing). This could involve writing training docs, talking to people, iterating, or even changing the type of thing you were building. What’s important is whether a user cares about what you built – even if they may complain about it, that’s a sign they care about it, then we can make it better.
Ultimately, after all of the tasks, story points, metrics, sprints, OKRs, KPIs, and things we use for process, we want to make sure what we’re building brings value to a customer or teammate and makes their lives better.
Team is Diverse
We feel humbled to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds.
Folks on our team have incredibly varied backgrounds. Some come from medicine, some from bootcamps, and some were founders. We have people with biomedical PhDs designing reactors and fermentation engineers building slackbots. People of different backgrounds bring different perspectives to the table; at Culture we celebrate that – our cross-disciplinary approach has allowed us to build an amazing product.
In terms of diversity beyond just background, we’re quite diverse at the company level, but it’s something we are actively looking to improve within our small engineering organization. We’re working extremely hard to create a diverse hiring pipeline as a company. Our founders Matt and Will have pledged support and resources to recruit from beyond the usual places and have pushed hiring managers to reach out to underrepresented groups.
We recognize that great talent comes from everywhere, so when hiring we're not looking for brand-name universities or a big G on your resume. If you’re kind, curious, and interested then we want to talk with you.
At its core, our company is engineering-driven.
Both of our founders come from technical backgrounds: Matt has a software/hardware background and Will has a hardware/mechanical engineering background. We approach biotech by asking ourselves, “How can software or hardware make this way better?” We build our reactors from the ground up. We’ve designed the entire system in-house. We write all of the software and build all of the hardware. In doing so, we’re revolutionizing the way biotech is done through an engineering perspective.
Because engineers here have a ton of power, autonomy, and responsibility, we also try to instill a culture of service and helping others. Case in point: Our recurring meeting with the bio team is called, “What Can Software Do For You?”. We view it as a privilege and an obligation to be able to make other team members’ lives easier. The same is true for our customers: one of our main goals is to allow our customers to spend less time in the lab and more time in their living rooms, saving them time, money, and resources.
When you join the team, you can expect to spend roughly 50% of your time on planned work that’s on our roadmap (and that we share with our exec team), 30% for the grab bag of things we want to pursue (putting our own ideas toward company and team goals) or requests from customers, and 20% for tech debt and bug fixes (we care a lot about our own dev flow and improving that over time.)
We’re truly people over process – there’s no scrum masters here (though we’d welcome you if you are one). We believe in building a process that works for engineers and one that helps us be productive, not one that acts as a mechanism for control or replaces the trust between management and engineers.
Bonded by Love for Product
Curiosity about bioprocessing and accelerating the world’s research is a shared trait.
Curiosity that turns into a shared interest around the product is something that bonds everyone at Culture. Our customers rely on our product to create advanced medicines, compostable plastics, agricultural bio-fertilizers, and so much more. Helping bring those bold visions to fruition and promote sustainability is what unites and drives us. It’s this mission to do good in the world that motivates us in our day-to-day work. For example, during the height of the pandemic, our product allowed many people to continue their research at home without missing a beat. When we were able to safely return to the lab, one of the first projects we worked on was a COVID antiviral project. We also helped in the development of a vaccine component.
If you hear ‘biotech’ or ‘bioreactor’ and you have no idea what that is but you’re interested in learning more, you can absolutely do that here. Not only are people willing to take time out of their day to share knowledge with one another, but many also lead classes. For instance, Satshabad, (software engineering manager), led an intro to coding class for the bio team and Dorothy (a hardware engineer) recently started a class on how to CAD. We also have several Slack channels dedicated to keeping up with industry news and offer an educational stipend of $1500 that has been used on things like ML courses, bio conferences, and other work-related classes.
We believe it’s a particularly exciting time to bring cloud software and data science to bioprocessing, because we’re enabling a Cambrian explosion in research. It’s similar to Moore’s law, but for biotech research. There’s a future where every big brand you know is investing in biomaterials and we’re building the platform to speed up that research in a very fundamental way.
Whether you know a ton about biology or can’t remember anything from your high school science class, we’d love to hear from you so long as you have a curiosity to learn more!
EQ > IQ
Safe Environment to Fail
Team is Diverse
Bonded by Love for Product
13 Full Stack Engineers
8 Hardware Engineers
2 Product Managers
4 weeks (3 weeks + the week between Christmas and New Year’s)
Python for our backend code, and the code that runs on the reactors. ES6 and Typescript on the frontend. We use React embedded into a flask site. We have a few different APIs, but we primarily use GraphQL.
We believe the interview process should be fun and personal. We also believe that it’s a two way street and want to give you an opportunity to evaluate us as well.
- A short call with the Hiring Manager, half of which is for your questions
- A short (live) “Can you code?” tech screen aimed at reproducing some “everyday work”
- A short “Tell me about a time when…” type of interview looking for kindness, curiosity, and empathy
- [optional]: 2+ calls with other members of the team in order for you to learn more about us if you want
- The final round: 5 interviews you can schedule throughout the course of a week