From Coding to Cultural Fit

Elvin Marmol is a recent graduate of Startup Institute New York program. This is the first post of a two part series about discovering the importance of cultural fit, personally and professionally. 

Recently, my friends asked me about Startup Institute. Each time I am asked, I share something new about my experience.

While I spent a lot of time learning tangible technical skills like working with Rails to build an OpenTable clone, there was no shortage of learning about Agile or the values and mindset of employees at startups. A consistent theme amongst our fireside chats and in-track sessions was the importance of cultural fit. Cultural fit is certainly important to many companies, but it is especially so for startups. I became certain this was true when I was asked “Why startups?” before ever being asked “Why this startup?” 

Simply having the skill set is clearly not enough, even for a developer. If it were not for the hours of listening to founders who have lived through the grind required to disrupt an industry, I would not have the answer to these questions. Sure, I could study a company and find some specific reason why I am fascinated by them. However, to explain why the startup community interests me is more difficult, to say the least, and I am not sure if other programs challenge you to look inward the way Startup Institute did for me.

It was when I looked inward that I was able to take ownership of who I was and allowed that to guide me toward the career and work environment I wanted. 

  1. I knew that I loved to code, because when I do, I go hours staring at my computer, Googling answers, and reading articles without ever thinking to eat.

  2. I knew that I loved mobile and web apps, because I waste my girlfriend’s time talking about new applications I have tried.

  3. I knew that I loved gaming because I live between wanting to become a better developer and finally awakening the last sage in Ocarina of Time.

  4. I knew that I loved hip-hop because I grew up memorizing rap lyrics and admiring the classics and the movement, but given its occasionally ignorant or offensive content my natural inclination (coming from a business school and consulting job) was to hide that from online profiles. 

Learn more about how Elvin identified his personal interests to guide his career search.


To learn more about our web development track, visit us at We are still accepting applications for this track for the Fall 2013 session in Boston, Chicago or New York.