How Ampler went from 0 to 100+ employees
Ampler’s headcount has been doubling every year since the brand was born in 2016. We’ve now reached the magical 100-person milestone.
Today, there are
117 people at Ampler
at 7+ locations – Tallinn, Jüri, Berlin, Cologne, Amsterdam, Zürich, and remote
The constant rate of doubling means that about 50% of the team – 60 people – have been with us for less than a year.
Growing at such a pace is exciting and daunting. Every time we’ve doubled our headcount, I’ve had the following thought in my head “I have no idea how to operate with this many people, let alone twice as many as now”. With good luck, good advice and lots of trial and error, we’ve thankfully always been able to figure out how to run a fast-growing company. My opening speech for each of our team events has constantly started out the same – “It’s so cool that the Ampler team is already this big”, making me sound like the grand-aunt who always pulls on your ear and tells you how big you’ve grown.
Our story began with the three founders – for the first year and a half, only we worked on the project. While we had friends help out here and there, the first time someone other than us three put in a significant amount of effort into Ööbik (the codename for our bikes before Ampler was born) was when Ott and Melissa joined in late 2015 on a project basis to help launch the bikes internationally via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
After we got the ball rolling with a successful campaign, we attempted to recruit them several times. It took us at least two times to get Ott on the saddle and three to get Melissa, but here they are, leading the Sales & Marketing and Growth teams respectively. The lesson here is persistence – it pays to restart hiring conversations with good candidates, as timing and personal situations play a large role in people’s decisions, and these things can change from one month to the next.
The very first official full-time employee was Raido who joined as a Mechanic in October 2016. Knowing him personally, Hannes was so sure about Raido’s fit with Ampler that I didn’t even get to interview him before joining. Exemplifying how good Hannes’ assessment back then was, Raido has by now grown into an Assembly Manager leading more than 30 technicians.
From 2016 onwards, things started to move faster. In a little more than a year we grew into a team of 9, then 27, then 43 and then 83 by the end of 2020. Today we’re 117 people.
Growing fast means constant change – it feels like growing a new company every year, and looking back, it sometimes seems difficult to recognise the previous one.
In the past, our hiring strategy was simple – “hire friends”. Having no experience with building a company or hiring people, whenever we were in trouble and we knew someone who could help, we called them to join us. While there are plenty of examples out there where a similar strategy has led to tough decisions and broken friendships, for us it has been great and worked out well. Initially, the friendships served as the basis for the Ampler culture and team fit. With everyone being so busy these days, it’s nice to see your friends at work rather than not seeing them at all.
Hiring only friends doesn’t scale beyond a certain point, of course. Today, our hiring processes are significantly more sophisticated. We measure values fit, have multiple interview rounds, and have test tasks to see work in action. However, I believe that the core from the initial hiring culture is still present – it’s awesome to work together with people you like, and it’s great to make new friends during the process. At the end of the day, people are what matters most.
It has definitely been a challenge to grow from a group of friends sitting in the same room and then chilling together after work in the workshop to a multinational, multi-location team. We created the first official team structure less than 3 years ago. Today, there are 9 core teams with multiple sub-teams embedded in them.
The one thing I’m personally happy about is that Ampler has grown to become a group of people united by values – we genuinely want to take care of each other, the environment around us and want to leave a positive impact on the world we live in. This is what makes everyday work complications easier to cope with, helping to keep the focus on what matters.
We will keep on growing – more Ampler bikes in the world lead to less pollution and to a better, happier planet. To achieve this, we need to keep building the team, becoming bigger and better. Join us and help us make a positive impact on the climate!
With best regards
CEO at Ampler Bikes