In the first part of our innovation series, we highlighted how Revolut is changing the banking game at the level of product – creating tremendous value, liberating data, mastering the cross-sell, and handcrafting the tech stack.
In this second part, we zoom in on what is so special and unique about the Revolut culture, while highlighting the challenges arisen from their hard-and-fast way of working. Included is the special BottomUp Skills podcast covering how working culture has contributed to Revolut’s massive growth.
#1. “Hard and fast” culture
In just 5 years, Revolut has gained more than 10 million users and over $800 million in venture capital. They started with a team of 10 people and last year already relied on nearly 1,600 people across 20 offices worldwide.
Their working culture has been evolving as fast as their business – and at all times Revolut has been about getting things done at hyperspeed. Obviously, Revolut’s massive growth could not have been possible without a team able to work hard and fast.
Along the way, their approach to working culture caused a lot of criticism and high staff turnover – somewhat reminiscent of the early days of Uber. Yet, the reality is that Revolut was and still is a start-up (scale-up) with a lean mentality – which doesn’t leave room for work-life balance.
Not many people can survive and thrive in such a high-speed growth environment. That’s why the Revolut team pays a great deal of attention to whom they hire: people who are able to learn fast, compete and win; people who love what they do and do not frame their passion into a 9-to-5 schedule.
In the words of Nikolay Storonsky – the CEO of Revolut, “when you love what you do, you do it 24/7 – it gives you the right attitude, the right energy to get things done.”
#2 Cultivating high ownership
Revolut’s hands-on approach is largely fueled by one of their key-values, famously summarized in their simple, yet strong motto “get it done.” In other words, the people at Revolut are all about doing the work with a deep sense of ownership – which means truly owning your job and taking full responsibility for all its outcomes.
Many people at Revolut are going the extra mile to build extraordinary things – pulling in long hours, admittedly not because they’re forced to, but because they want to. By doing so, projects are started and finished within weeks, problems are overcome even when it feels impossible.
As shown in this video, the people who thrive at Revolut are those who take the initiative to put themselves out of their comfort zone, take ownership, and learn fast. These are the skills that enable Revolut to keep breaking walls and pushing boundaries on what hasn’t been done before.
#3 Learning fast from the past
Last year Revolut suffered serious backlash from the media, with the press highlighting the human cost of the fintech’s wild rise – “Applicants asked to work for free, rudeness, and high staff turnover tarnish the fintech startup’s success story.”
In an open letter following allegations of a “toxic culture”, Revolut’s CEO offered more context and background. While taking responsibilities for things that had not been OK in the past, Storonksly highlighted that they learned their lessons and that they would keep improving as culture change is a function of growth.
We made mistakes in the past but we are a very different company today, and in a year’s time, as we scale, we’ll be a different company,” stated Storonsky last year at Unbound in London.
Unlike Uber, which faced similar problems, but lost a CEO on the way and had their business model under threat, Revolut has overcome this challenge by owning up to their mistakes and attending to their culture. Reviews on Glassdoor not only reflect that, but also make for a snapshot of the company ethos.
Overall 3.8/5.0 Rating
- 71% Recommend to a Friend
- 77% Approve of CEO
- “Fun, kind, loving, fast paced, rewarding” (in 11 reviews)
- “You get exposure to many different things so you learn a lot” (in 7 reviews)
- “Work-life balance: 12-15 working hrs per day plus weekends” (in 22 reviews)
- “Long hours (although not compulsory)” (in 12 reviews)
The big lesson here is that any startup that wants to grow fast needs to hire the right people for it – even though only a few will be the right fit. And that is something that Revolut is mastering.
Tune in next week to learn how Revolut has embedded a story worth sharing into their product, turning end-users into its most enthusiastic promoters. Or sign up to BottomUp Skills to gain free access to an end-to-end case study on the Revolut innovation.
About BottomUp Skills
The BottomUp Skills platform is created and supported by the QUALITANCE global thought-leadership team for innovators, makers, and creatives who want to sharpen their skills in innovation, design thinking, and technology. Usually, such courses are exclusive to our clients such as Ford Motor Company, News Corp Australia, Breville, and many others around the world. Now, we have opened the paid subscription courses and made them available to everyone for life.