The founders of Reset offer some insight into building a startup and creating healthy work environments.
By Alexis Green, Illustration by Madison Weakley
It’s said it’s not wise to mix business with pleasure, but Silva Gentchev and Siri Chakka prove friendship can be the perfect foundation for a successful business. Indeed, approaching business with an open mind has helped lead them to success.
Sitting in a trendy restaurant one day, the friends thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to work in a place like this?” The answer led to the development of Reset, an Austin-based startup that enables workers to swap stuffy offices for creative, comfortable settings that are far from the stale conference rooms many businesswomen are familiar with. Pairing businesses and their employees with innovative local spaces for off-site meetings, Reset, which has a core tenet to emphasize diversity and inclusion across the board, fosters a sense of community among workers while introducing local restaurants and venues to new clientele.
After building Reset from the ground up in 2018, the pair really means business. However, the experience has not always been enchanted. It’s taken much hard work and dedication to grow Reset.
Chakka and Gentchev share what it takes to build an inclusive company and how to thrive in the world of startups.
“In smaller teams,” Chakka says, “make sure everyone has as a word at the table and has opportunities to interact with each other. Pick inclusive activities or conversation topics.” “More leaders need to understand what [being inclusive] looks like,” Gentchev adds. “Even if it’s small things like picking a certain activity that might not include people, those actions impact people and their ability to speak up. Team members [should] speak up on someone’s behalf who [is not] included in a conversation.”
“The female entrepreneurial community in Austin is strong [and] very supportive,” Gentchev says. “Constantly ask for help and lean on your community, wherever you are, because you can’t really get very far without it. Then pay it forward. My personal [goal] is to build connections to help everyone succeed.”
KNOW WHO YOU’RE HIRING.
“From the initial screening itself, make sure you’re building that type of culture where people are different and bring different strengths to the table but they still play as a team,” Chakka says. “Have questions that you’re asking them [be] about how they’ve interacted in teams, and learn about their past experiences, whether it is professional or not.”
REFRESH YOUR SPACE.
“A change in scenery is huge in terms of boosting creativity,” Gentchev says. “Bringing people to think of new ideas in that same conference room doesn’t really work. Nobody is 100 percent focused. When you take them out of that environment and put them somewhere new, they’re engaged in the task at hand.”
BEING YOURSELF IS ENOUGH.
“I’ve learned to just be more myself,” Gentchev says. “In my earlier 20s, I was always like, ‘Should I be doing this the way that male executives do this?’ It took me a long time to learn to find the culture that I want to work [in] and seek that out rather than trying to fit into this mold that I’m not going to. There’s room for everyone to be themselves.” “We’re in a room of smart people all the time,” Chakka adds. “But we are just as bright and capable. It doesn’t really matter what kind of background you come from, education or experience. Play to your strengths and find a partner or a team that complements that.”