Chili Piper’s Manifesto: Building the Company of the Future

Nicolas Vandenberghe
August 31, 2022
min to read

The business of the future is about more than driving revenue and generating profit. It's about making the world a better place.

Chili Piper’s Manifesto: Building the Company of the Future

Nicolas Vandenberghe
August 31, 2022
min to read

The business of the future is about more than driving revenue and generating profit. It's about making the world a better place.

When Alina and I started Chili Piper, we did not set out to build the “company of the future”. 

Alina had gone from intern to Senior Vice President in less than six years by building consumer apps that users loved. 

Next, she wanted to make Enterprise Software as fun and exciting as her consumer apps. I had a passion for Sales & Marketing, so we agreed to focus on that space. 

We set our business mission: “To reinvent revenue tech”.

But as Chili Piper started growing to dozens of employees, attracting millions from investors, we realized the power of businesses as organizations. We had the resources, talent, and processes to do much more than just bring software products to market.

The Three Responsibilities of Businesses

I started my career in the 1990s as a Strategy Consultant based in London. We were taught that companies exist strictly to deliver shareholder value. They were not supposed to spend their shareholders' money on philanthropic ventures or even on employee thrills. 

Yet two decades earlier, in 1971, the movement of Corporate Social Responsibility had already been launched by the concept of “Social Contract”.  The idea is that business functions because of public “consent,” therefore, business has an obligation to constructively serve the needs of society.

“The social contract outlined three responsibilities: 

  1. Provide jobs and economic growth through well run businesses.
  2. Run the business fairly and honestly regarding employees and customers.
  3. Become more broadly involved in improving the conditions of the community and environment in which it operates.”

More recently, my friend David Jones published “Who Cares Wins”, a book where he argued that doing good socially is actually good for business; companies are more likely to succeed in their markets if they are perceived as good citizens.

Now, not only do we fully embrace our Corporate Social Responsibility, we want to build the Company of the Future. The blueprint for the ideal business organization.

Below are the details on how we plan to do that, following the three responsibilities of companies: 

  • Build a well run business,
  • Take care of our employees, and 
  • Have a positive impact on the world.

Part 1: Operational excellence in business

Centers of Excellence for all departments

When I was in college, career advisers would tell us to go to Xerox to learn Sales or to Procter & Gamble to learn Marketing (which I did btw). These companies were known as “The Best” in these departments.

Our goal at Chili Piper is to be, and to be known as, The Best in EVERY department.

To do that, we identified the companies considered the best in each discipline. Then, we researched how they operate and what they do differently — for example Splunk in Customer Success, Hubspot in Content Marketing, Figma in Product Management, etc.

We called that our “Centers of Excellence”. We have published this research here.

Chili Experiments

Not only do we want to match the best companies, we want to do even better, and outdo our predecessors!

For that we encouraged every department to push the envelope, explore new ways to do things — we call that “Chili Experiments”. 

For example, our Head of Finance replaced budgets with “dynamic plans”, our Head of Customer Success explored a new way to plan headcount, and our VP of Sales built out a sales org that never offers discounts .

Each department will keep posting reports on these Chili Experiments here. 

Part 2: Remote work and employee growth

Global and fully remote from day one

The first founding decision we made in 2016 would appear prescient a few years later: to go fully remote. 

From our French and Romanian background, Alina and I knew that talent can be found everywhere in the world, so that’s exactly where we looked — we started with Romania, Ukraine and Montenegro. We later expanded to Argentina, Slovakia, and we now have employees in 41 countries. 

We have a passion for traveling and discovering the world, so we figured we should let our team members do the same and work from wherever they want. You can see here the kind of amazing travels our Pipers get to experience!

A lot of companies are trying to force their employees back to the office. We have found that working remotely with large teams is not only possible, it’s actually more productive. So we’re set on proving this as we scale to thousands of employees.

Career plans and coaching

But geographic freedom is not enough to lead a fulfilling professional life. We asked ourselves: how do we make sure all our team members keep growing professionally as well as personally?

We came up with two ideas.

The first one is dead simple: how about we ask them? Ask our team members how they would like to grow. 

We call that their “Piper Plan”. How they see their career developing, what they see as the strengths they can leverage, and the areas they can focus on improving. 

The second idea was to hire internal professional Talent Development coaches to help the Pipers think through their career plans. The coaches represent the employees, not the company. All conversations are confidential.

Part 3: Spreading life-fostering culture

Our foundation: Citizens of Our Planet

Humanity has made amazing social progress in the last two centuries, making changes that seem obvious now but took hundreds or even thousands of years to happen: abolishing slavery, eliminating apartheid, giving women the right to vote, to name a few.

Alina and I believe that eliminating violence in all its forms is the next frontier. It makes absolutely no sense for human beings to inflict undue pain on others, let alone kill them.

We believe that this will become obvious to all in just a few decades, so we want to get started now.

So when we closed our $15M A round, the newly formed Board of Directors agreed with us to place $1 million into a foundation — Citizens of our Planet — to try to make the world a less violent place.

Our optimistic view was challenged just six months after we launched our foundation, when Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine, in the kind of war that no one believed could still be seen in Europe. 

We immediately focused all our efforts on this conflict, helping thousands of refugees find a safer place. 

Our newfound guide: Non Violent Communication 

Last Christmas, I stumbled upon a book that changed my life: Non Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg.

We have an official day off for all our employees to give them time to read it. Now we’ve deployed training sessions for everyone to put it into practice. It’s a core part of how we operate.

Life-fostering culture

The book’s subtitle is “Life-Changing tools for healthy relationships”. It’s actually much, much deeper: it leads us to completely reconsider how we view the world. It shows that we live in an authoritarian, judgmental and punitive culture. 

In a series of videos, Marshall Rosenberg presents an alternative, where we withhold all judgments and focus instead on actions that foster life in ourselves and others. 

Every year at Chili Piper we all take a trip to meet in person. The first one was five of us in India, then fourteen of us in Paris, thirty-four in Ibiza, and 120 in Tulum. In November 2022, 240 of us will get together in the desert of Morocco. This will give us the chance to explore the life-fostering culture seeded by Marshall Rosenberg.

Conclusion: The way forward

As we embark on this beautiful journey, we’re committed to sharing it openly across our three responsibilities:

  • Business: In our section “Operational Excellence”, we’ll publish all updates to our Centers of Excellence by Department as well as our new “Chili Experiments”
  • Employees: We’ll share the world discoveries of our remote Pipers on social media, and our Chili Experiments around professional growth on our website
  • World Impact: We’ll continue the work of our foundation “Citizens of our Planet”, with a new focus on spreading what we’ve learned around “Life Fostering Culture”

Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, on our website and in our newsletters!

When Alina and I started Chili Piper, we did not set out to build the “company of the future”. 

Alina had gone from intern to Senior Vice President in less than six years by building consumer apps that users loved. 

Next, she wanted to make Enterprise Software as fun and exciting as her consumer apps. I had a passion for Sales & Marketing, so we agreed to focus on that space. 

We set our business mission: “To reinvent revenue tech”.

But as Chili Piper started growing to dozens of employees, attracting millions from investors, we realized the power of businesses as organizations. We had the resources, talent, and processes to do much more than just bring software products to market.

The Three Responsibilities of Businesses

I started my career in the 1990s as a Strategy Consultant based in London. We were taught that companies exist strictly to deliver shareholder value. They were not supposed to spend their shareholders' money on philanthropic ventures or even on employee thrills. 

Yet two decades earlier, in 1971, the movement of Corporate Social Responsibility had already been launched by the concept of “Social Contract”.  The idea is that business functions because of public “consent,” therefore, business has an obligation to constructively serve the needs of society.

“The social contract outlined three responsibilities: 

  1. Provide jobs and economic growth through well run businesses.
  2. Run the business fairly and honestly regarding employees and customers.
  3. Become more broadly involved in improving the conditions of the community and environment in which it operates.”

More recently, my friend David Jones published “Who Cares Wins”, a book where he argued that doing good socially is actually good for business; companies are more likely to succeed in their markets if they are perceived as good citizens.

Now, not only do we fully embrace our Corporate Social Responsibility, we want to build the Company of the Future. The blueprint for the ideal business organization.

Below are the details on how we plan to do that, following the three responsibilities of companies: 

  • Build a well run business,
  • Take care of our employees, and 
  • Have a positive impact on the world.

Part 1: Operational excellence in business

Centers of Excellence for all departments

When I was in college, career advisers would tell us to go to Xerox to learn Sales or to Procter & Gamble to learn Marketing (which I did btw). These companies were known as “The Best” in these departments.

Our goal at Chili Piper is to be, and to be known as, The Best in EVERY department.

To do that, we identified the companies considered the best in each discipline. Then, we researched how they operate and what they do differently — for example Splunk in Customer Success, Hubspot in Content Marketing, Figma in Product Management, etc.

We called that our “Centers of Excellence”. We have published this research here.

Chili Experiments

Not only do we want to match the best companies, we want to do even better, and outdo our predecessors!

For that we encouraged every department to push the envelope, explore new ways to do things — we call that “Chili Experiments”. 

For example, our Head of Finance replaced budgets with “dynamic plans”, our Head of Customer Success explored a new way to plan headcount, and our VP of Sales built out a sales org that never offers discounts .

Each department will keep posting reports on these Chili Experiments here. 

Part 2: Remote work and employee growth

Global and fully remote from day one

The first founding decision we made in 2016 would appear prescient a few years later: to go fully remote. 

From our French and Romanian background, Alina and I knew that talent can be found everywhere in the world, so that’s exactly where we looked — we started with Romania, Ukraine and Montenegro. We later expanded to Argentina, Slovakia, and we now have employees in 41 countries. 

We have a passion for traveling and discovering the world, so we figured we should let our team members do the same and work from wherever they want. You can see here the kind of amazing travels our Pipers get to experience!

A lot of companies are trying to force their employees back to the office. We have found that working remotely with large teams is not only possible, it’s actually more productive. So we’re set on proving this as we scale to thousands of employees.

Career plans and coaching

But geographic freedom is not enough to lead a fulfilling professional life. We asked ourselves: how do we make sure all our team members keep growing professionally as well as personally?

We came up with two ideas.

The first one is dead simple: how about we ask them? Ask our team members how they would like to grow. 

We call that their “Piper Plan”. How they see their career developing, what they see as the strengths they can leverage, and the areas they can focus on improving. 

The second idea was to hire internal professional Talent Development coaches to help the Pipers think through their career plans. The coaches represent the employees, not the company. All conversations are confidential.

Part 3: Spreading life-fostering culture

Our foundation: Citizens of Our Planet

Humanity has made amazing social progress in the last two centuries, making changes that seem obvious now but took hundreds or even thousands of years to happen: abolishing slavery, eliminating apartheid, giving women the right to vote, to name a few.

Alina and I believe that eliminating violence in all its forms is the next frontier. It makes absolutely no sense for human beings to inflict undue pain on others, let alone kill them.

We believe that this will become obvious to all in just a few decades, so we want to get started now.

So when we closed our $15M A round, the newly formed Board of Directors agreed with us to place $1 million into a foundation — Citizens of our Planet — to try to make the world a less violent place.

Our optimistic view was challenged just six months after we launched our foundation, when Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine, in the kind of war that no one believed could still be seen in Europe. 

We immediately focused all our efforts on this conflict, helping thousands of refugees find a safer place. 

Our newfound guide: Non Violent Communication 

Last Christmas, I stumbled upon a book that changed my life: Non Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg.

We have an official day off for all our employees to give them time to read it. Now we’ve deployed training sessions for everyone to put it into practice. It’s a core part of how we operate.

Life-fostering culture

The book’s subtitle is “Life-Changing tools for healthy relationships”. It’s actually much, much deeper: it leads us to completely reconsider how we view the world. It shows that we live in an authoritarian, judgmental and punitive culture. 

In a series of videos, Marshall Rosenberg presents an alternative, where we withhold all judgments and focus instead on actions that foster life in ourselves and others. 

Every year at Chili Piper we all take a trip to meet in person. The first one was five of us in India, then fourteen of us in Paris, thirty-four in Ibiza, and 120 in Tulum. In November 2022, 240 of us will get together in the desert of Morocco. This will give us the chance to explore the life-fostering culture seeded by Marshall Rosenberg.

Conclusion: The way forward

As we embark on this beautiful journey, we’re committed to sharing it openly across our three responsibilities:

  • Business: In our section “Operational Excellence”, we’ll publish all updates to our Centers of Excellence by Department as well as our new “Chili Experiments”
  • Employees: We’ll share the world discoveries of our remote Pipers on social media, and our Chili Experiments around professional growth on our website
  • World Impact: We’ll continue the work of our foundation “Citizens of our Planet”, with a new focus on spreading what we’ve learned around “Life Fostering Culture”

Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, on our website and in our newsletters!

Nicolas Vandenberghe

Nicolas is Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Chili Piper, a SaaS platform helping B2B companies double their inbound conversion rates. Nicolas and his co-founder and wife Alina bootstrapped Chili Piper in the 2016 — and the rest is history. A native of Paris, Nicolas has an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor's in Mathematics from the prestigious French institution Ecole Polytechnique. When he's not helping companies improve their inbound lead conversion process, you can find him enjoying champagne, traveling the world, or spending time with his two children. Connect with Nicolas on LinkedIn.

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