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People & Culture Blog

Leaving the Base Camp: How to reach the peak with your team

6 min read · Nov 14, 2023

What does it take to climb a mountain? In her new book Leaving the Base Camp, MailerLite co-founder Ilma Tiki shares the lessons learned during our journey from a local startup to a global company with over a million users.

Our transition didn't happen overnight and it came with many challenges. In this article, we'll share some of the stories that gave birth to MailerLite as we know it today, with a little hint: it's all about the people.

“Growing a business is a personal journey never taken alone"

Climbing a mountain requires a strong team, and there will be challenges along the way. To overcome them, team morale is as important as technical skills. But how do you build a culture of trust and hire the right people to climb to the top with you?

This book is replete with stories and experiences that have shaped the spirit of our team. Here are 4 of our favorites.

1. Overcoming your fears

It takes courage to leave the base camp when you are comfortable as a local team that lunches together at the office ping pong table. It’s easier to hide behind your identity as a small startup than it is to embark on the mountain climb required to be a global company.

Our journey began with a question Seth Godin posed to Ilma at the AltMBA workshop. He asked all attendees to think about the business they are in and be as expansive as possible when answering.

After years of thinking of MailerLite as simply an email marketing tool, being asked to broaden the answer helped Ilma come up with a new response to this question.

“MailerLite's true passion was to enable talented people around the world to create outstanding global products.”

That question changed our company mindset, removed limitations from our minds, and allowed us to grow beyond what we could have ever imagined. And it inspired the fantastic new products and tools our team has developed in the years since.

Ilma, author of the book, at MailerLite's first office in 2017.
Ilma, author of the book, at MailerLite's first office in 2017.

2. Sharing a house with your team

Could you share a house with your colleagues? Doing so during our first ever team work together in Bali was an enlightening experience that transformed the way we hire.

Ilma’s young child joined the trip, which made her more aware of how team members behaved. She realized that behaviors she couldn’t tolerate in front of her child were also damaging to team spirit, which highlighted the importance of hiring people whose personal values align with your company culture.

Since then, when hiring a new team member, we ask ourselves: “Would I want to live together with them in one house?” And the decision of whether to hire them becomes crystal clear.

Could you share a house with your team?

Five people working together with laptops
Workation at Azores, 2019. Our team got together for work and team bonding.

3. Creating values that represent you and your team

Ilma and co-founder Ignas conceived MailerLite's values while on an island in Colombia. The founders had no internet access which reduced the temptation to borrow trendy ideas from other businesses.

Instead, they had to look inward to create a set of values that were true to our company essence and defined our unique workplace and vision. The values reflected not only our products and tools but also our people, users, and even our personal lives.

“Values are the foundation of how we work and what we focus on every single day.”

This is important because being clear about what matters most in your company is a key component to attracting people who resonate with your values and will naturally fit into your organization.

Ilma Tiki holding her book
Leaving the Base Camp. The book contains the story of MailerLite values and how we embrace them every day.

4. Becoming a remote work pioneer

People will always seek to belong to communities that support their dreams and values, giving them the freedom to create.

As a remote-first company, we recognize the importance of providing our team members with the flexibility to live their best lives, decide where to live and work, and be close to their loved ones.

We decided to work remotely way before the pandemic made it a trend. In fact, Ilma made our first remote hire in 2014, when she realized that hiring remotely would allow her to find the best talent from around the world.

Silvestras was the first ever MailerLite remote employee and he has worked from ​​Klaipeda and Bangkok during his time with us. He’s also grown in his career and is now a shift leader in our support team.

Having a diverse, multicultural team also inspires us, enhances our creativity, helps us understand new markets and lets us reach a wider audience who we can now serve with our products.

Leaving the Base Camp is your call to scaling success in a remote-first world

The book tells the story of MailerLite’s journey as it grew from a small startup to a global company.

As well as the stories mentioned above, the book contains insight on how to:

  • Grow a startup without investment

  • Run marketing with a small budget

  • Hire remotely and build a worldwide team

  • Build products that matter to our users

  • Create a culture where all team members love their job

Use these stories to learn how to stay motivated, inspire your team, navigate the global hiring market, and unite a culturally diverse international staff behind a shared mission.

Whether you're just starting or ready to scale your business, “Leaving Base Camp” will guide you forward in a remote-first world.