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Investing in startups & strong company culture: Interview with Jaïr Halevi (Miro)

We had a chat with Jaïr Halevi, Startup Program Manager at Miro, the collaborative online whiteboard. Jaïr has led training workshops for over 100 startups on the topic of startup culture. He has worked with leading brands, Governments, and NGOs, and is very passionate about innovation, technology, and helping startups grow. Here’s how our chat went.


We did our research, and we see that you focus on works in the Education field, Non-profits, and Startups. What led you to choose these specific groups?

Throughout my career, social impact has always played a key role. I started as a social entrepreneur in Brazil and worked with local communities in favelas during the world cup 2014. In the meantime, I was active in both the technology and government fields, and for the past years at Miro, the focus has been on growing in the startup ecosystem. We invest in startups, hoping that they scale and that we can grow with them.


All startups have different foundations and structures. How can you implement the right culture in a startup environment?

I think that there are no right or wrong cultures, although this does not mean there aren’t good and bad cultures. Your startup should elicit the behavior that you want to see and that follows your companies’ mission. So indeed every startup has a different mission and has different values, however, there are some ‘non-negotiable’ such as time for creating and evaluating your culture, having leadership that embodies the culture, and the concept of psychological safety.

If you’re a startup founder – take a step back and create the time to set up your culture because a lot of founders think it will grow organically, because you are so busy with all your other tasks. This can result in difficulties along the road, your culture serves as a guide that enables focus, alignment, consistency, and action. Every day that you come to work, you are already deciding what type of company you want to be.


At what point should a founder start focusing on culture?

Right now. The moment that you start your business – that is the moment that you can completely think of, hey, who am I, and what kind of company do I want? And when you hire people, it becomes a shared culture already. You start with asking yourself what your values are. Your values will guide you to your mission. What do you do? Who do you do that for? What are the benefits for them? How do you want to change the world? You need to embody your values as a founder and lead by example. However, ask your team for feedback on your values. This will make it a shared culture and your values evolve over time.


Would you approach the hiring process differently as well?

Oh, definitely. I think when you are looking to hire people for your startup, you should be looking for a cultural fit. That has a huge impact. People who can handle direct feedback because you want to do the best for the company, and having people that can give and receive candid feedback will significantly improve the decision-making process. This will also add to psychological safety because you don’t want to have a place where people are not able to talk openly. Again, lead by example. You should show vulnerability as a leader – I make mistakes – share with the team what you learned from them.

Make sure that you ask for feedback after every meeting. You can do that one on one, you can do it on a Miro board, you can do whatever you want, but make sure that giving and receiving feedback becomes part of the workflow, that employees are expected to give feedback to each other. I like to use the Start, Stop, Continue template.


Our startups have been using Miro on all workshops and boot camps and are seriously becoming pros. In what way do you think this tool is influencing decision-making, unblocking creative processes, and creating better team connectivity?

Thanks for being such great players in our Miro Community! Miro can definitely bring the fun into collaboration, it’s a new way of working together, synchronous and asynchronous work. So you don’t have to always have a meeting to work and really get stuff done. We have a lot of offices, 11 throughout the world, and we work a lot of times asynchronously. In the current world, we sometimes forget that we don’t always have to react immediately, and we have the tendency to always be responsive, but that alert state deteriorates the quality of our work because we don’t have the skill to just sit for two hours straight working and do really important work.

I think that what can help also when you’re not able to meet in person is what Miro can do for trust creation. You have icebreakers that really go into emotions, and that’s essential, especially since we’re such a global organization. People who don’t like to speak up can also do that in a more discreet way, by filing a Miro board and still having their voices heard.



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