For many, this was the first opportunity to meet their teams in person and discuss how they deliver for customers.
What unique opportunities exist for remote-work companies to accelerate their ability to deliver for their customers? Where can you innovate in an essential industry which measures technological progress across centuries? How can we fight the coming 2022 wildfire season, armed with unique insights and cutting edge technologies?
These questions require careful consideration and group ideation. While the Zesty.ai team has embraced the advantages of remote-flex work, there is undeniable value in finding time to get together, in-person. Therefore, after achieving significant success in 2021, AI-powered risk analytics provider Zesty.ai finally met in person once more this May in Cancun, Mexico.
Thanks to record growth of the team, it was the first time for many members of the company to meet any of their coworkers in person. For each Zestie who attended, it was the first chance in two years to connect under one roof, celebrate shared successes, plan for the next breakthroughs in applying AI solutions to age-old problems, and reflect on our potential to deliver innovative products as we improve our understanding of climate risks.
Celebrating Success & Rising To New Challenges
The past year has presented phenomenal success for Zesty.ai: the company had tripled Contracted Annual Recurring Revenues, achieved greater than 100% year-over-year growth in number of customers, deepened relationships with those who had already chosen our products, and made several high-level strategic hires. In addition, by the end of 2021, the size of the team doubled in just over one year.
More than thirty insurance carriers and reinsurers are now trusting Zesty.ai for climate and property risk insights, and the client development team has grown quickly to meet the call from carriers making property-level analytics a part of their policy lifecycle. From client development to customer success, there are many new faces across the board, working hard to make sure Zesty.ai’s customers (and their customers) are happy.
Z-FIRE™, Zesty.ai’s wildfire risk analytics product, has helped the insurance industry make significant gains against climate risk. It has been widely adopted — in particular across the entire Western US where wildfire is a major threat, and provides the greatest insight into both wildfire risk to individual properties, and risk-mitigation opportunities for homeowners.
These successes have prepared the company to tackle new emerging climate risks with a fresh perspective. But before Zesty.ai takes the next step on this trajectory, the teams needed to come together, take the opportunity to reflect on the lessons we have learned up to this point, and integrate them into new teams and new efforts. This was best accomplished in-person, all together, as one team.
It had been a long time since such a large proportion of the company was together under one roof. We had developed working relationships with our immediate teams, but many cross-team connections were yet to be made. Smaller teams were given time to discuss our shared company values and to find examples of how those values had intersected in each other’s work experiences. Company values are complicated—they are not issues which are solved, or questions which are answered—but instead require vigilant attention in order to be acted upon, even when it means speaking up and objecting to a pattern of practice.
What binds all Zesties together is a shared willingness to try new things and take risks when you believe in something with unproven potential. To that end, the team was put to the test in the form of a Shark Tank competition for proposing future product ideas. The five teams, some with more futuristic ideas than others, came together in a shared semi-competitive event that had all the “sharks” laughing and learning about the immense creativity that Zesties all bring to the table.
Focusing on New solutions
The greatest benefit of coming together in person is the opportunity for impromptu collaboration. Zesty.ai’s remote-flex working environment already encourages collaboration and knowledge-sharing, but in-person meetups allow the company to take this to another level. Coming together in Cancun brought functional teams even closer together and provided the time to develop even greater connections among Zesties who had already been working together remotely for months, or even years.
Customer Development, the team with the most new faces, spent an extra day in an intensive workshop, and by the end of the week, many Zesties reported a new-found appreciation for their role and felt better integrated into their respective teams. Before everyone parted ways, each and every person knew what it meant to be a Zestie, and had a chance to focus on what that means for our customers.
Where will Zesty.ai go next?
In order for Zesty.ai to retain its status as a market leader in climate risk analytics, its employees must be the brightest in the business, and be able to bring new perspectives to the toughest climate problems. Zesties do not come from one single background, or have a specific workstyle, but they instead find unique ways to connect, whether that is through dancing our hearts out to ABBA, or competing to share the best new company GIF on Slack.
Zesty.ai has embraced the world’s recent discovery of remote work. Remote-flex provides employers an opportunity to freely enter into new employment markets–most recently exemplified by the company's establishment of regional AI-focused hubs in Vancouver and Toronto, as additions to our primary bases in the San Francisco Bay and Montreal. Remote-flex also offers flexibility and opportunity for employees to try different working arrangements. But as Zesties are spread farther apart, they are finding new ways to place an emphasis on how to stay in sync.
As the company grows, and expands into additional locations, it will become increasingly important to periodically connect in person, and take advantage of the flexibility that remote-flex arrangements afford a company with no single central location. Future meetups are coming, and Zesty.ai will continue to make the most of the time available to be spent together.