"Dogs or cats?" Tripleseat CEO Jonathan Morse likes to ask job candidates. If they say cats, he says, "they're not paying attention." That's because half a dozen canines roam the company's Concord, Massachusetts, office on any given day. But maybe a candidate who admits a preference for cats then goes to the defense of felines. "We like that," he says.
Tripleseat's casual interview process is jarring to some candidates, but that's by design: It helps weed out people who aren't likely to fit its "party people" culture. The 75-person events-management-software company hires lots of folks from the restaurant and hospitality industries. "They're used to a fast-paced, open environment," Morse says. "They're not used to sitting in a cubicle and just staring at a screen. If you provided that environment to them, they wouldn't last very long."
As it is, employees do tend to stick: Since the company's founding more than a decade ago, only two employees have left voluntarily. One returned a few months later.
In 2008, Morse, then working for a business software company, was asked to organize an offsite event at a restaurant. Things went awry. The reason: The venue manager misplaced the entire agenda, which existed only on paper. Morse was surprised to learn the venue didn't have event-planning software. The few options that existed, it turned out, weren't geared toward smaller outfits. So he built one.
Today, Tripleseat has more than 5,000 clients--primarily restaurants and hotels--in 20 countries. In addition to being doggy, the company hosts in-office wine socials on Wednesdays and lets all employees work from home on Fridays. Once a month, one of the many former-bartender staffers teaches a course on specialty cocktails at Tripleseat's fully stocked bar. The company brings in catered lunch each day, often from a client eatery.
Morse says that people rarely exploit the easy-going environment. "They police themselves," he says. "They take personal offense if they feel that somebody is taking advantage of the company."
It's easy to see why. In May, Tripleseat transported all employees on an expenses-paid trip to Dublin, which will substitute for the usual annual excursion to Nantucket. And the company's two-day-long holiday parties aren't to be missed. This year, it was Great Gatsby-themed, with employees dressing like swanky 1920s partygoers and bootleggers.
"I've worked at other software companies, and it was a lot of clock watching and meetings--kind of a soul-sucking experience, to be honest with you," Morse says. "I didn't want to have that type of environment." Safe to say, that's been averted.