6. The Culture


Underlying everything is the organizational culture…

The culture at Fledge is unique within a business incubator.

The Fledge culture is an extension of the culture found within Pinchot University. Pinchot is a unique, groundbreaking institution, founded in 2002 as the first business school (in their words) to teach “sustainable” business (and in Fledge’s vocabulary) to teach “how to do good by doing business.”

A key facet of the Pinchot culture includes a supportive community.

Community, in this case is not just the staff and not just the students, but also a rich community of supporters, visitors, and fans. A true set of stakeholders, all pushing for the mission of the school, “Changing Business for Good”.

This is visible by the support the students provide each other, in addition to the support of the teachers and staff. The same is true in Fledge. The Fledge participants are not just not competitive, but actively supportive of each other’s efforts. They meet multiple times per week to hear the status of the other companies. They participate in all-hands session to solve issues from a single company. They help brainstorm names, help pick logos, help other teams’ outreach.

All this sounds natural and reasonable, but the amount of support the teams receive from each other is more than can be imagined, and a key difference of Fledge.

The other key to the Pinchot culture is “co-creation”.

The Pinchot curriculum did not come only from the faculty, but from the feedback of the students, and the assistance of the alumni. Outside the classroom, the other programming, such as Kaizen, Diversity & Social Justice, Poetry & Music Night did not come from the staff at all, but directly from the students.

Similarly, much of the Fledge program has been shaped by its participants. The details of the program are covered below, and for each, the areas adjusted by the participants are explicitly called out. This is done on purpose, as this concept of co-creation is another key differentiation of Fledge.

And to be clear, these changes were not only made between cohorts, but often in the middle of a session. Flexibility underlies the concept of co-creation, as does the ability to experiment.

Beyond the Pinchot culture, Fledge incorporates the philosophy of the Lean Startup. Fledge is itself a Lean Startup. The fledglings are the primary customers of Fledge, and the program is adjusted, as needed, to maximize the satisfaction of the customers, balancing their short term desires with their long-term needs.

Having a serial entrepreneur as Managing Director at Fledge infuses startup culture within all aspects of the program, matching the culture of the fledglings vs. acting like an investor, a school, or other more formal institution.

Underlying all of this culture is an expectation of speed. A key innovation in the Y Combinator program and copied by TechStars is the very short, 12 week timeline/deadline. Fledge shrinks this further to just 10 weeks, which in turn creates a culture where speed is of the essence.

As is described on Day 1 to the participants, the speed expected within Fledge is to execute within days, what typically takes weeks outside of the incubator. With the unmovable deadline, and with the support of the mentors, this speed is achieved.

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