How to Make the Most of Having All Your Company’s Brain Power in the Same Place at the Same Time?

Anssi Rusi Feb 02 2018 2 PM | 4 min read

We kicked off 2018 with an international strategy offsite with the whole team. It was a week of bonding with colleagues, shaping our long term vision, and setting goals for the next six months in Sunny Gran Canaria. One of the highlights was a hackathon where Smartlies from different offices and teams joined forces to solve problems and build prototypes to improve our product and service to our customers.

This was the second time we flew our team from all corners of the globe to attend Futurio,’s all-hands strategy offsite. It’s a huge investment for the company, but we’re convinced that gathering together every 6 months helps us cooperate efficiently for the rest of the year. Futurios are an amazing opportunity for Smartlies to meet and bond with teammates across the globe. Closer ties to distant colleagues lower the threshold to ask for or offer help, share knowledge, and speak up about problems, which in turn helps us steer away from siloing.

Apart from bonding with colleagues
, Futurio was an opportunity to discuss our vision and prioritize company-wide goals. Our focus areas for the first half of 2018 include product-related initiatives, like taking the first steps to becoming multi-platform, and further improving the quality of work life for our team.

Andrew, our new General Manager of EMEA, was astonished by how quickly feedback was collected and acted on in goal-setting. “Most companies I have worked at in the past would have presented the vision and priorities and not asked for feedback, or asked for feedback and ignored it, or gathered feedback and followed up a month later”, he says. “Not the leadership team presented the vision and priorities, gathered feedback, changed the priorities, and rolled out in 48 hours.”

Highlight of the week — Futurio Hackathon

Our strategy days have always had Open Space sessions, where anyone can propose a topic they want to take forward in the company, be it a new product feature, a new customer vertical, or an internal improvement project. Open Spaces are super popular, but there’s only so much you can get done in one hour. This time we had a week-long Futurio, so in addition to having an Open Space session with 12 different topics, we reserved one whole day for a company-wide hackathon.

The format was mainly similar to Open Spaces: anyone can propose a project, and anyone can join any project they want to contribute to. We ended up with a whopping 39 hackathon topics, ranging from improving our tool’s backend to integrating Google Data Studio to our tool, and from implementing a simple backend for our Pinterest integration with Kotlin, to automating order form creation for our customers.

Dylan, who works as a Senior Account Manager for some of our eCom customers, joined a hackathon group that focused on offline conversions and built a fully functional end-to-end prototype for automatically fetching sales data from retailers via SFTP and synchronizing it to Facebook’s Offline Conversion API. “I think it was amazing that we were able to complete a rough but effective prototype for a feature that, when ready, will help our retail customers utilize their purchase data in powerful ways and advertise more profitably,” he says.

Johanna, who works with’s product marketing, hosted a hackathon project where the team created and tested new sales collateral. “During the day we created four pieces of materials that our customer success team can immediately start using in helping our customers get the most out of our product”, she says.

Futurios are an important part of our culture is made up of self-organizing teams, which means that our teams own their areas of our business or product, and can make decisions without running them through multiple layers of management. We want to stick to self-organization, because we believe it’s possible to survive and thrive in our industry only if we make decisions quickly on all levels of the company, and act on our decisions with agility.

Throughout the week, we shared details of our vision, biggest bottlenecks, product roadmaps, and financial data transparently with each and every Smartlie to help them see the big picture and give them the context they need to be able to take ownership confidently and make smart decisions that drive the whole company forward.

Like last time, this year’s offsite was a way to thank and reward the team for amazing work during the last year. In 2017, we reached $1B ad spend managed through our platform. Even though Futurio was packed with work sessions, open space discussions, hackathons, and 4-hour support shifts to keep our 24/5 customer support chat running around the clock throughout the week, we managed to squeeze in some pool time, shared dinners, surfing, trekking, and morning yoga.



Interested in hearing more about how our culture promotes transparency, ownership, and self-organizing teams?

Check out our Culture Handbook!

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Anssi Rusi
COO and CFO at

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