Learn from Inside Sales Manager, Michael Tiu, about a day in the life of a Gesture employee in an article by Blue Sky’s Inside Job.
Gesture keeps workers hopping with contests, caffeine
What’s it really like to work at Chicago startups and tech companies? Blue Sky’s Inside Job lets people on the ground tell us in their own words.
Michael Tiu, 30, Inside Sales Manager at Gesture
We basically help organizations raise more money through our mobile fundraising. We’re geared toward nonprofits. We have 2,500 charities and partners nationwide. We’re on target to do about 1,700 events through our platform. We say events, because we don’t necessarily have to have an auction. Some organizations only do a donation campaign. Some only do a live auction. Some do raffles. There are a lot of components to charities, and that’s why the industry is so complex. We want them to be able to take everything in directly through our platform.
Part of what my team is doing is building our emerging markets — like Nashville, Sacramento, Miami, Austin — as well as handling a lot of our national accounts. We have 34 main markets now. We’re basically calling different organizations around the country from the office. We’re doing telecommunication, webinars, phone, email, screen share. We’re selling the product.
We have about 50 to 60 people in the office. Honestly, I like how quiet it is (in Westmont). It’s nice because I live in the city, so everything is super busy all the time. So coming to the ‘burbs is actually different, not in a bad way. It’s definitely a good change of pace, and I get to golf every so often.
I was born and raised in Naperville. My parents are from the Philippines. I understand Tagalog fully, but I’m awful at speaking it. I went to Western Illinois (University) on a tennis scholarship. My nickname is “Deuce.” Deuce is common tennis terminology, and it just so happened that my last name is Tiu, pronounced like the number two, so it all kind of just blended together. That nickname started in college. And Jim (Alvarez, founder and president of Gesture), called me Deuce the second day I got hired, and it sort of filtered on all the way through.
Right after college, I worked for Enterprise for a couple of years. I have a lot of ties from Enterprise. I don’t wear them anymore. Then I dabbled in real estate. And then from there, I picked up Groupon. I started at the very bottom of the sales organization and left as a strategic account executive. I was in sales for basically four and a half, five years there.
Jim found me at Groupon. Jim’s a very convincing person, and he’s super passionate. When we work with different clients, they see that we’re there for good. We want to do all these different things to help the organization.
We have contests all the time up on a whiteboard, like contests for if you’re a fan of “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.” I’m not up there. My wife would be disappointed I didn’t play. Our whole office is all about it.
We have unlimited paid time off. We have all the caffeine, snacks that you could possibly need or want. We have occasional Chipotle. I’d say half of our staff uses exercise balls. Nobody likes sitting at desks anymore. I can’t sit in a regular chair anymore. I sit on a yoga ball. It’s the most comfortable thing ever.
We do softball, volleyball. There’s actually a triathlon going on. Our CEO has a team of three people, and they’re taking on one of our triathlon athletes. We have people buy in, and the winner gets the money donated to the charity of their choice.
We’re big on team competition. We do trivia nights all the time, and the losing team has to buy the other team lunch. We’re all about it — any sort of competition we can be in. You gotta keep it lively.
It’s important that the culture is very fun. Yes, we work hard. Yes, we help nonprofits raise more money. When it’s all said and done, we help each other. That’s part of being a collaborative group. We bounce ideas off each other, figure out the best ways to help our clients.
With 2,500 clients, there’s a lot we can do to be better. We want to talk to each as much as we can. Everyone here has that goal to help nonprofits however we can. That’s the reason that I can trek my way out here. I think the end goal is to be able to do good.
As told to freelance reporter Erin Chan Ding. Stories are edited for length and clarity.
Article originated at Chicago Tribune, Blue Sky Innovation. Written by freelance reporter Erin Chan Ding.