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Matt Howard dishes on EatStreet’s success

At the upcoming Icons in Business event, co-founder Howard will discuss how the company grew from a dorm-room idea to a national powerhouse, and why the Madison company almost had to move to the West Coast.

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Of course, that doesn’t mean EatStreet hasn’t had to adapt during its growth from an idea in a dorm room to a national player in the food delivery world.

Matt Howard with one of his favorite office dogs, Beau.

“One of the best things about starting a company is being your own boss,” Howard wrote in a guest blog post for IB. “You set the attitude, and you set the stage for things like dress code, work ethic, company parties — you know, all the little things that make up that thing we all love to talk about: company culture.

“But startups evolve and so do their cultures. Here’s what we’ve learned: Don’t try to prevent culture from evolving. Just be self-aware, so you can help it along in a way that keeps it true to your mission and vision, while ensuring the team is happy, too.

EatStreet employees enjoy an in-office game of Ping-Pong.

“When EatStreet was 20 employees, the company was a heck of a lot different than when we got over 100 people. For starters, we were generally younger, fresh out of school, and with very little need for any type of corporate structure. We were too busy busting our asses to stay alive to think, at least consciously, about it too much. Culture just happened.

“But as you grow, structure and scale are inevitable. It’s not a bad thing. Instead, adapt. The best way to do that is to listen to your employees. Then take action.

“For instance, we used to throw big company parties where we’d rent a bar and push the fun into the wee hours after excruciatingly long workweeks. Now, our staff prefers to go do a brewery tour or maybe mini-golfing. That’s a small example but it goes back to listening. Do that and your culture will thrive.”

Howard’s Icons in Business presentation will take place Friday, March 15 from 8–9:30 a.m. at The Madison Concourse Hotel. Tickets are still available at IBMadison.com/Icons.

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