18 June 2020

Startup Flight #2: Why I Need Beer Mats To Celebrate Success


Hi there! My name is Charlotte and I’m Co-Founder & CEO of Equalture (a hiring software that leverages gamification to debias hiring for SMBs) and living in the most beautiful city in the world: Rotterdam. Being an entrepreneur for 4 years now and building my second company together with my twin sister, I get a lot of questions from other founders and people thinking about starting their own company.

Since I believe that every single founder experience can be helpful to other founders, I decided to translate these frequently asked questions into a blog series: Startup Flight.

In this very second blog: Why I need beer mats to celebrate successes and the importance of finding your own beer-mat-tradition.


The definition of success in a ‘successful’ environment.

Success. What is that actually? When I started Equalture 2 years ago, I described success as the moment on which our predictive hiring software (because that’s what we’re building) is up and running and serves paying, happy clients.

But that’s not my definition of success anymore. And 100 clients also isn’t. Because I’m living in a startup environment where luckily enough we manage to grow rapidly and therefore get more and more ambitions.

I believe that my way of thinking up till a month ago was (and still can be) my biggest pitfall as an entrepreneur and also the most stupid way of thinking when building a team. Because I stopped thinking about my definition of success. I could only define success as an unrealistic, unicorn-situation in which Equalture would be worth a billion dollars, serving ten thousands of clients from all over the world.

Some people would call that ambitions. Including me by the way. But sometimes we let our ambitions turn into our definition of success, and that’s the most stupid thing you can do.

The ‘shit-we-are-never-good-enough’ syndrome.

What happens if your unicorn ambition becomes your definition of success is that nothing is ever good enough. Not for yourself and therefore not for your team.

Sometimes during a meeting with my Co-Founders Fleur and Jaap I’m so demanding — as a result of this unicorn ambitions — that this attitude only resulted in stress and disappointed at the end of the day. Because how can you be happy with a ‘tiny’ milestone if you’re only working towards your unicorn success?

Fortunately I ‘woke’ up a month ago since we’re about to achieve a major milestone this month (which will be a secret for now that I’m sharing with you guys later). Or actually Fleur woke me up. After 2 years! Just by saying these words:

‘’You must be super excited now that you almost achieved this major milestone for Equalture, right?’’

These words made me realise that I wasn’t about to be proud of this achievement, because in my head I was already working towards the next one. That was the moment when I decided that we needed to change something.

The birth of our beer-mat-tradition.

A few weeks ago me, Fleur and Jaap went to a bar next to our office to discuss success. What is success for Equalture? When is an achievement big enough to call it a success? And how can we prevent ourselves from not being aware of these successes?

Our secret: Beer mats.

We grabbed 25 beer mats. One beer mat for each success. So we needed to determine 25 milestones worth calling a success for 2020. Quite hard if you come from a unicorn-success mindset, right?

Well, surprisingly enough it wasn’t hard at all! In 5 minutes we filled all 25 beer mats with milestones like €100K MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue), a new office, 1/3th of our client base abroad, cool new product features, team happiness and so on.

We took all 25 beer mats back with us to the office and now look at them every single day. In our new office we want to nail them on the wall: The ones we didn’t achieve yet with the milestone explanation in front, the ones we did achieve with the beer mat print in front. Just so that we won’t forget about the milestones we need to achieve this year — and even more important: So that we don’t forget to celebrate the ones we achieved.

Now instead of working towards our unicorn-success, we define our successes for each year needed to hopefully achieve this unicorn-success in a few years. And that makes me and my entire team aware of all the rockstar successes we realise year after year together, which leads to unlimited energy and drive to make every day an amazing day.

Bye you ‘shit-we-are-never-good-enough syndrome’, hi monthly success celebrations! And believe me, it makes the drinks on Friday even better. 😉

Cheers, Charlotte