After my summer interning at GoCanvas, I walked into the Kogod School of Business and I noticed a new slogan painted on the walls. “Kogod believes profit and purpose should be in step”. In the past, I might have been skeptical about this. However, after a summer of working at GoCanvas, I feel lucky to work at a company where profit and purpose are in step. GoCanvas reinforced this idea to me in five different ways.
#1 Start with Why
In my management courses, they always told us that an employee will work harder for internal motivation than for external rewards. A conversation with any GoCanvas employee will show you that they are dedicated to ridding the world of paper forms. Whether they focus on removing the burden of tedious paperwork or helping reduce the amount of paper consumed worldwide, everyone at GoCanvas believes in this mission.
#2 Data: An Organization’s Most Valuable Resource
While in information technology courses, I learned the value of data. In the 21st Century, a company lives or dies based upon its access to data. At GoCanvas, we strive to make everyone’s data easily accessible for them. GoCanvas allows for entire new ways of collecting data that are not available on paper forms, from GPS positioning to in-app calculations. Never before has data been as easy to use or as powerful.
#3 Metrics, Metrics, Metrics
At the center of every organization are the core metrics: these numbers determine whether the business will succeed or fail. In my accounting and finance courses, I learned that in order to truly understand a business, you must look at the numbers which truly matter. At GoCanvas, everyone knows not only the core metrics, but also their own personal metrics. This openness gives employees the opportunity to see how their work feeds into the core metrics of the business.
#4 Flat & Agile
In this age of rapid innovation, layers of managers and bureaucracy stifle innovation and can destroy a company. To avoid this, GoCanvas CEO James Quigley decided to implement a flat organizational structure. This means that everyone at GoCanvas is responsible for their own projects and their own performance. As long as you meet your metrics, you can pursue projects which you believe are important to the company.
#5 Culture is in the company’s DNA
I was introduced to GoCanvas at the 2013 Ante Up awards. Ante Up is Canvas’s signature philanthropy program. It allows employees to freely distribute the GoCanvas app to a deserving nonprofit. The employee then works with the nonprofit to implement GoCanvas to help their organization. As I sat in the audience, I was stunned by this program. Michael Grover, a conservation officer at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa, spoke of how he had reached out to GoCanvas to help track Rhino poachers. The plight of the rhinos’ at Sabi Sands moved one GoCanvas employee to not only set Sabi Sands up with GoCanvas for free, but he also flew to South Africa to help implement GoCanvas.
While I learned about corporate social responsibility in class, it never struck me how committed a company could be until I saw it in action with GoCanvas. This commitment isn’t reflected only in our mission statement and blog posts. Rather, employees embody this dedication by helping worthy causes through Ante Up. Beyond Ante Up, I see Canvas’ commitment in the day to day work of eliminating paper forms from people’s lives, making information more accessible and working towards sustainable business practices.
Ante Up is about more than just giving away a free service. It is about spreading a product that will change people’s lives. By allowing the workers at Sabi Sands free access to GoCanvas, the company has played a small role in helping win the fight against poachers. But it has also helped to spread the knowledge of GoCanvas and in doing so, Ante Up works towards the larger mission of GoCanvas. This brings me back to the new slogan at my school, that “profit and purpose should be in step”. At GoCanvas, the two are undoubtedly in step, and I am thrilled and grateful to get a chance to help make it happen.