The following contains the Founder’s Manifesto, our company Values and how my co-founders and I intended to use them as we operated our company, VendorHawk.
I’m am deeply grateful to Brian Geihsler for contributing the core content of the founder’s manifesto and for he and Ben Stephens for holding to it while we ran VendorHawk – what an honor it was and continues to be to work with you gentlemen.
Purpose and intent of our Founders Manifesto:
As founders we wanted to build a great company – whose culture and values reflect that of healthy, productive, servant-hearted, customer-oriented, entrepreneurial-minded employees.
Digging deeper, we founders rank our priorities in life as:
- God (our faith in Jesus Christ)
- Family (caring and providing for our wives and children)
- Work (building a great company)
…and in that order.
It is from these values that we drafted this Founders Manifesto. The full manifesto is included below, but I wanted to underscore what it means and doesn’t mean, for clarity’s purpose.
How it works:
- The manifesto was used in conjunction with lean startup principles to craft our values.
- Our company values are what employees must agree with to operate as a member of our team – and we believe the best results will come about as we all embody the seven company values.
- We don’t have plans to present the founders manifesto to employees, or present it as the company values, for hope to hire people whose views about life and God are different from our own and want to include them in building our company.
What it does and doesn’t mean:
- It means we founders are intentional about re-aligning ourselves to this manifesto and to our core values in the way we love, accept, serve our employees and how we make decisions in leading the company.
- It means we want to encourage and promote a safe environment for team members to be themselves, live their lives and share what’s also most important to them as well.
- It doesn’t mean that we are a Christian company, a 501c3, or a non-profit, masquerading as a business. We are a Delaware corporation, a startup seeking to generate substantial profits and returns for our investors as we responsibly build a great business.
- It doesn’t mean that our employees, investors, board members, advisors, mentors or anyone else has to agree with our faith in any God or religion to work for VendorHawk. We abide by the standards of being an Equal Opportunity Employer who agrees not to discriminate against any employee or job applicant because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or age. Diversity and inclusion are keys to creating a successful business & working environment.
We see honoring God as completely congruent with building a great business for all stakeholders involved: customers, employees and investors alike. It’s with that approach that Brian, Ben and I are excited to build this company.
Please read over the manifesto using this lens of purpose and intent. The company values follow on the last page.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Patrick Lowndes, Co-Founder & CEO – VendorHawk
Startups for Jesus – Founder’s Manifesto
Authored by: Brian Geihsler & Patrick Lowndes
If we’re going to do this venture in full submission to Jesus, here are some things that must happen:
We should not do it to get rich.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world.8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:6-11
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
We need to take this warning along with the numerous other warnings in the Bible seriously. We cannot serve both God and money. Christians should definitely start companies. But we shouldn’t start companies to get rich. We should start companies to serve and delight our customers, to love our customers and employees, to honor the Lord by using the creativity and gifts He’s given us for others.
We should do it to serve, not to be served.
45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Jesus came to serve, not to be served. As His disciples who have been served infinitely by Him, we do not seek to be served, but to serve. Christians start companies not to be served by their customers and employees, but to serve their customers and employees.
We should not be enslaved by it.
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
The work of a startup can become all-consuming. Even if we’re not working on it 24/7, the mental attention we give to it can be 24/7. If Jesus is our master, the startup cannot be our master. The work cannot be our master. The customers cannot be our masters. Investors cannot be our masters. The startup community cannot be our masters. Jesus is our supreme master, and this company belongs to Him. In light of this, we can rest regularly, not give ourselves over to the work, make regular time with the Lord, make regular time with our loved ones, and serve the church with full confidence and trust that Jesus loves us and that the work is not more important than Him. It means we can put the work down when it’s not finished and go to bed on time. It means we can push out deadlines when work isn’t finished.
We should not operate out of fear or anxiety.
9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34
6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
Fear can drive founders. Fear of failure. Fear of competitors. Fear of the unknown. Anxiety can be commonplace. Anxiety over missing deadlines. Anxiety over customer responses. We need not fear or be anxious about anything. The Lord is with us. He’s given us much to be thankful for already. We have enough trouble for today. What decisions are we making because we’re afraid? Or because we don’t trust God with our current results?
We should not be conformed to the world.
2 “Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
The way we build and run our company should be different than the world. The world’s way of doing startups is to run yourselves into the ground. It’s to “give it your all” and “put it all on the line” and to “hustle” to beat out the competition. It’s to cast the Lord, family, friends, and health aside in pursuit of growing the company. It creates this myth that if you don’t sacrifice everything for the company, you will fail. That is simply not true. Is that how we want to run our company? No; not if we’re serving Jesus.
We should involve the Lord in it.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Psalm 127:1
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31
5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
16 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Without the Lord, our labor in this company is vain. This means we will joyfully pray all the time about the thousands of decisions we’ll make each month.
We should rest.
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
Obviously we will work hard on this. But the Scriptures speak of “eating the bread of anxious toil” — working so hard that we don’t rest. Meaning we work so hard because we don’t trust God. May this not describe us. May we work hard, and trust God for the results enough so we can rest.
We should love our wives and children while we do it.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a]28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.” Ephesians 5:25-30
4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
Startups do mean more work for us, especially as founders. But we’re never off duty from loving, cherishing, and nourishing our wives. And we’re never off duty from discipling our children.
We should put living faith on display.
“14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
“32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33
With respect and tact, we should acknowledge God in our work and let our good deeds shine before men so they should praise God and point to him at the end of the day – not to us.
We should bless our employees, drawing them to reconciliation with God.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:1-2
“20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 1st Corinthians 5:20
We should seek to be a blessing to our employees, as if we are God’s appeal to them. May our love for them and our witness for Christ draw them to reconciliation with God. First let them feel blessed by our leadership and servanthood, then impressed by our devotion to God and love for each other. May God work in their hearts through our attitude of blessing and love so they come to know him.
“Thank You, Lord for Your grace given to us in Jesus Christ, who alone has done the perfect work, so we don’t have to work to earn Your favor and acceptance. Thank You that You sit on the throne over creation and You are the one who directs the hearts of kings (including investors and other influential people). Thank You, Father that You’re a good Dad who likes to provide bountifully for Your children. Thank You, Jesus for giving us the example of what it looks like to live a life of sacrifice, love and standing for the Kingdom of God in the midst of such cultural and spiritual opposition. Thank You, Spirit for making Your home in us and leading us on mission, convicting us of sin, truth, righteousness as we live out our faith as founders. Keep us from the vices of greed, taking shortcuts and neglecting our own wives and children for the sake of the business.”
“Lord, help us live as if You were leading this business, and may our employees not speak highly or greatly of our names, but may they come to know what You’re like through their daily interactions and working relationships with us. Be glorified in this startup and may our employees, our city, and the tech community at large come to know You because of it!”
VendorHawk Company Values
Focusing on HOW. Every business wants to change the world and turn a profit. At VendorHawk, how we get there is critically important to us.
At many startups, teams slave away for unhealthy amounts of time focused on the urgencies and pressures of work, which lead to burnout. At VendorHawk, we believe in a different way of working. We’re confident that by embracing the values below our customers will be heroes, our employees will love working for us, and our business will thrive.
- Customer-First – We have servants attitudes and go to heroic lengths to see our customers succeed. We get excited about helping customers get the most from their software and make them look like rockstars in their business.
- Doing the right thing – We avoid taking shortcuts and gravitate to the higher road for our customers and our employees. We work hard to do the right thing – even when it hurts.
- Entrepreneurial Spirit – Everyone is an entrepreneur. Our approach is proactive not passive, creative not conforming, optimistic and not fearful. We embrace ambiguity and jive with the changes as they emerge. We roll-up your sleeves, dig into the mess, get dirty and solve real problems.
- Excellence – We take a craftsmanship approach to our work. We demand of ourselves uncompromising quality as people who demonstrate excellence in everything we do.
- Hungry to Learn – Nobody’s perfect. We believe people fail for lack of perspective. This is why we posture ourselves for constantly getting feedback from peers, leaders and customers. We believe learning quickly and adapting quickly creates the agility necessary to win.
- Celebrate Together – We want a fun place to come to work – a place that celebrates wins together. We value the hard work of reaching goals and celebrating milestones big and small.
- Work-Life Balance – There’s more to life than work. We’re convinced that the best workers are rested, excel at activities outside of work and have the self-discipline to create separation when away from work. This is why we care about each other’s families, passions and personal goals. While we work hard, we remain sensitive to support the personal & professional lives of our team.
- Community – We believe good community starts inside our four walls as we build relationships on trust, respect and serving each other. From a place of gratitude and generosity, we make room to give back to the community with our time, talent and finances.
In case you missed it…
We don’t value workaholism, showboating, and being content with mediocrity.
We do value hard work, comfort with ambiguity and change, listening before speaking, good communication and celebrating team wins. We value lives outside of work, rest, and “turning work off”. We value our customers and championing their cause to optimize their software spend. Together, we’ll build a great company.