How often do you see a LinkedIn post or Tweet referring to millennials in a negative way?
I come across them so often that I did a quick search to find out more about the generation that everyone loves to hate.
Amongst other things, I discovered that half of the highest-valued start-ups in the world today were founded or co-founded by millennials. (Statistia, 2019). This is an impressive feat by a generation seen to be scrappy, care-free and laid back.
After sharing this with a few of my colleagues at The Vending People, we had a few questions,
- How is the behaviour of millennials different to that of their predecessors?
- What habits do they have that have made them so wildly successful?
- What role did coffee play in this success?
We explored the management styles of millennial CEOs, what they have in common, how they lead their teams and build a culture of success.
In this article, we will answer those questions based on our findings.
The World of Millennials
In the last decade, we have seen the likes of like Airbnb, Uber, Stripe, DoorDash, Deliveroo, Grab and Spotify achieve phenomenal growth and become part of our everyday lives.
The quick growth of these companies has been linked to the aggressive attitudes of their millennial founders who are not constrained by the same ideologies held by their predecessors, baby boomers and Gen X.
Millennials are always seen as the scrappy, care-free generation; however, this has led them to create meaningful enterprises from their bedrooms or working from coworking spaces and coffee shops.
They are the resourceful generation, and powered by coffee, they have done some amazing things. Here are a few things they did right.
Creating High-Energy Work Environments
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, millennial founders are highly a collaborative bunch compared to older generations who idolised climbing the corporate ladder and weren’t too fond of sharing their ideas for fear they would be stolen.
Millennials on the other hand, are more likely to pitch their ideas, get feedback and work more openly with others. A quick Google search for Facebook or Stripe’s offices reveals images of open plan designs with long rows of desks where in some cases the CEO sits on the same floor as everyone else.
Millennial entrepreneurs are typically very conscious of their surroundings and believe in social impact, shared values, employee wellbeing and working together to save the environment.
You will see these themes present in the offices of online food delivery company Deliveroo in the UK, which features fresh fruit baskets, and phone booths for employees to escape the hustle and bustle of the office. There’s even a caffeine bar lined with fancy, high-tech office coffee machines.
It may look fancy, but the aim is to create a high energy environment for their staff which fosters collaboration, creativity, and productivity.
We implemented something similar when The Vending People recently worked with QA, UK’s largest digital education and skills provider.
They needed a way to provide their delegates with the opportunity to replenish their energy through snacks and drinks and we helped them achieve this through our vending solutions.
Using a mix of bean to cup coffee machines for high footfall areas and instant machines for lower footfall areas. We were able to provide a solution that met the taste requirements of their delegates and helped increase satisfaction.
Driven by Purpose
Talent acquisition is getting more difficult for most HR managers, but millennial founders somehow know how to make their start-ups look desirable. How come they can attract highly skilled and driven people so naturally?
It is partly because many millennials are driven by purpose, and millennial entrepreneurs use this as a main talking point when hiring.
Stripe, the millennial-led online payments company that builds infrastructure for ecommerce, are on a mission to “increase the GDP of the internet” and they recently poached a Google veteran to head up their engineering operations from their HQ in Dublin.
Who wouldn’t want to work for a company with a mission like that?
How do you think it compares with our mission? At The Vending People, we are on a mission to become the UK’s most recommended vending company. And we want to achieve this by offering a great local service, backed by national scale.
Aron Cutler, a millennial technologist and doctoral candidate in psychology suggests that millennials have developed a unique understanding of technology and their surroundings through years of trial and error using computers from a very young age.
This created a resourcefulness and sometimes scrappy approach to business that led to many founders building their companies from coffee shops as opposed to expensive offices.
Brian Chesky, millennial co-founder of Airbnb famously created and sold 2 cereal brands called Obama O’s and Cap’n McCain’s. The cereals were priced at $40 a box, selling over $30,000 worth. The money made from the cereals during the US presidential campaign got Airbnb out of debt. The rest, as they say is history. They still have commemorative boxes in their kitchens at Airbnb HQ today.
This kind of creativity, resourcefulness and approach to storytelling helps millennial entrepreneurs navigate through the complex business world and sets them apart from other more established companies.
Employee wellbeing initiatives are abundant amongst the new generation of companies. Initiatives like providing healthy foods, flexible working options and workplace fitness schemes.
UK snacking trends have changed in the last few years. Our report on the evolution of snacking in 2019 provided some useful insights. It suggests that more people in the workplace are opting for zero-sugar drinks. Low-calorie snacks, seeing a 169% increase in their sales of these snacks.
Companies like Spotify, founded by millennial, Daniel Ek, understand this switch in behaviour and constantly listen to their employees. Spotify offers social events for employees to bring them together. Spotify evens runs sessions to educate and inform staff about mental health, and healthy eating.
The Vending People offer unique popup vending concepts for this exact reason. We are trying to tackle some of the challenges we know our customers care about. The reduction in single use plastics and the availability of on the go healthy snacking.
Millennials have a unique understanding of social media and communication tools. Over ninety per cent of them use social media every day.
This unique understanding of the social media landscape helps them market online. The growth in influencer marketing is a testament to that. Younger brands understand that social proof is an important element for consumers, and they capitalise on that using social media.
There is a lot to learn from successful millennial entrepreneurs. They get a lot of slack from the older generation. However, millennials are resourceful, savvy, and with the right funding,
- Build distinct working environments to foster creativity, collaboration and productivity.
- Are driven by purpose and create a compelling mission to attract and retain top talent.
- Are resourceful and know how to scale quickly by being more productive and sometimes scrappy.
- Focus on employee well-being and pay attention to the changing habits of their staff.
- Communicate effectively with their teams and customers through the right tools.
Through this, millennial entrepreneurs create high-energy companies, full of smart, motivated people who work together toward a shared goal linked to the future of mankind, creating new, innovative solutions that benefit us all.