Working at Molekule: How Great Company Culture Spurs Innovation

Molekule is a science company that is tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges, starting with the air we breathe. To solve these tough problems, it requires a team of people who see the vision and come together to make it a reality. Recently, the San Francisco Business Times recognized us a winner of the 2019 Bay Area Best Places to Work. This recognition speaks to our culture, and ultimately, why it is an important part of being able to solve large scale global problems.

Our team at Molekule is working together on something that has never been done before. We are focused on how our technology can help bring relief for people who suffer from indoor air pollution across the globe. Often what keeps us going are the stories we hear from customers about how they’ve been helped by the technology. Our vision is to expand this technology to businesses, hospitals, offices and more to effectively eliminate indoor air pollution altogether. Everyone we work with—partners, investors, team members—believes in our mission and the work it takes to bring clean air to the world.

Many Bay Area companies work hard for business results, some with a larger mission in mind initially. Yet in the startup world, it is challenging to maintain a lasting commitment when the journey requires what we have undertaken at Molekule: taking laboratory science and turning it into compelling products in the real world. The truth is that even the best ideas often fail. Roadblocks emerge, or larger, more established companies may feel threatened by new ways of thinking and try to stop it early. Or, people in the world are skeptical of it and rush to dismiss it. To help us overcome the biggest traps we’ve seen destroy innovation at other startups, we have chosen values aimed at each of these different breakpoints.

The values of a science company form an environment where team members can bring their best self to work and feel valued in the process. Too many times we overlook the power of listening to each other and their ideas. However, we cannot provide relief to those who suffer without the right understanding and empathy that listening to each other brings.

The values at Molekule form the basis of our culture, and each were selected for a reason:

Humility: Check your ego at the door. Ego is one of the things that breeds office politics and bogs teams down that might otherwise succeed. We try our best to check our ego at the door, so we do not let it get in the way of the task at hand.

Determination & Grit: We believe in what we’re doing, that’s why we don’t give up. Because the task we have chosen is big and complex, we need to avoid the low morale and attrition that often comes with working on something difficult to achieve. Our belief in our mission means we do not give up when faced with difficult circumstances.

Ownership: We roll up our sleeves, do the work, own the outcomes, and are proud of our contributions (no matter the size). In many companies, silos and misalignment often happen across teams. We actively make sure that team members feel empowered to take initiative, even if it’s not something that is in the scope of their usual responsibilities, so that cross-functional groups come together.

Community: We’re all in this together. What ultimately allows people on different teams to align is the sense that we’re all in this together. We can only be successful when team members who come from very diverse professional backgrounds feel a sense of belonging.

Passion: We’re devoted to changing the world for the better. When we come together, we are mindful of avoiding one of the biggest obstacles to innovation: apathy. When we share a common passion for changing the world for the better, it helps each of us from becoming discouraged.

Growth Mindset: There’s always more to learn, and we learn best from our mistakes. Along the road to scientific innovation, there are many things we do not know or have not encountered before. This is why everyone in the company is encouraged to have a growth mindset, so that we can learn from our mistakes and carry the mission forward.

Communication: Candid, effective, respectful. Assume good intentions. The final piece to making all of this work is communication. Team members, regardless of organizational structure, feel comfortable speaking up because they sincerely and respectfully want to provide feedback to colleagues. It is also important that the listener assumes good intentions when receiving this feedback.

It’s a priority that we live our values, because they add merit to our team, our product, our company and ultimately, bring value to our customers. To achieve our vision of clean air for everyone, we need to have the best people, across multiple disciplines working in supportive and driven teams. We cannot be distracted by ego, but need to collaborate and be mission focused.

Over the past 4 years, Molekule has grown from three co-founders to over 100 team members, and we will always see our culture as a vital part of our organization. Taking groundbreaking science from laboratory shelves to people’s homes and communities is the long term vision of Molekule as a science company and requires a strong culture to thrive. We are honored to have such a passionate team of scientists, designers, engineers, writers, researchers, business leaders and changemakers on our team. Because the need to breathe clean air has never been greater, we are dedicated to keep building a culture that is key to realizing Molekule’s long-term vision.

Written by

Dilip Goswami is the Co-Founder and CEO of Molekule, a company on a mission to solve the global air pollution crisis by reimagining the future of clean air.