4 minutes

Why You Should Put People First, Even in a Growing Tech Business

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Tech is built by people, for people, but it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. There’s been a lot of talk about this on the West Coast, and we feel it here in the South too. Privacy concerns with Facebook—and the recently shutdown Google+—have people asking questions like, “can we trust technology these days?” and “do tech companies really care about who uses their products?”

There’s a name for this… techlash. Just try convincing someone that their phone isn’t listening to them and you’ll get a feel for what we’re talking about.

We get it. But we also believe you can trust many tech businesses. Especially if they put a bigger emphasis on people than profit.

At Krit, we have a “people first” value. We focus on helping non-technical founders design and build incredible tech products, right here in Charleston. And we do that in a way that emphasizes people.

A South-inspired business culture…

We started as a product business in Columbia, SC, in the Spring of 2014. In 2015, we pivoted to a service business and, in August 2016, we moved our whole setup to the heart of Charleston. Throughout South Carolina, we’ve connected with generous communities of inspiring entrepreneurs (like those at DigSouth!). And those communities have made a big impact on our business. They’ve confirmed our thoughts that together we accomplish more than any one of us could accomplish on our own.

That’s why we have, and continue to, put people first. We want to bring something we love about Southern culture—togetherness and hospitality—straight into our work culture.

What “people first” looks like at Krit…

You can see our “people first” value in our hiring, finances, product builds—even the local events we host and attend.

When we hire, we share our entire process upfront. We also list salaries from the get-go. We know what it’s like to feel thrown over by the hiring process, so we try and be more welcoming.

Each month, we peel back the curtain and openly share our financials. We’re big on transparency because we hope to inspire other entrepreneurs in the South. We want founders to see what it’s like to run a service business—ups, downs, and bad days included. (We had similar reasons for starting our newsletter series, Start in the South.) We hope other founders can learn from our mistakes, grow with us, and become better entrepreneurs in their own communities.

Then when we build products, every step of the development process centers on a person: from sitting down with founders for hours in Roadmapping Sessions; to focusing on users in feature development; to creating welcoming interfaces that make our products delightful. Throughout this whole process, we really focus on building a relationship with the client. It’s why we say we’re more like a technical co-founder than a development agency.

Spending time in the local community is a fourth way we put “people first” to work here in Charleston. This past summer we hosted Startup Grind Charleston’s summer party at our office. You may also have seen us around town at 1 Million Cups, Startup Grind, Startup weekend, UX meetups, Dig South (of course!), and volunteering for the local Habitat for Humanity branch.

“People first” isn’t just a phrase on paper for us; it’s the foundation of our culture, and the Southern culture we work in.

The reaction we’ve seen in Charleston…

While this is still something we’re learning to do well, we’ve seen a great response to our approach so far. Our employees are motivated by it and we’ve connected with some pretty cool people by stepping outside our own doors and listening. We’ve even had a client tell us they chose us over a competitor because we didn’t make tech the focus of the conversation.

All-in-all, we hope this is a reminder that it’s possible to improve trust in tech businesses. It starts with a people first approach and, perhaps, a good dose of southern hospitality.

Andrew Askins is the CEO of Krit, a Charleston-based agency that specializes in helping non-technical founders build incredible tech products.