A ‘Mini CEO Incubator’: How TestFit’s Culture Helps Employees Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Instead of giving orders to execute, the real estate tech company “puts the authority where the information is” and empowers employees to act.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Oct. 09, 2023
A ‘Mini CEO Incubator’: How TestFit’s Culture Helps Employees Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset
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Since launching in 2016, real estate tech company TestFit has seen three employees leave to found their own startups. Despite having a lean team — headcount currently sits at 40 employees — CEO Clifton Harness is genuinely excited when employees choose to pursue their passion projects full-time because it serves as proof that the company’s culture is making an impact.

That culture, according to VP of Marketing Laura Paciano, is steeped in autonomy and transparency. Employees are encouraged not to wait around for leadership to solve problems or recognize and seize opportunities. Instead, they’re given full information about the company’s goals and its current state and empowered to act.

“At TestFit, we set the vision for where the company is going and then quickly move the authority to where the information is,” said Paciano. “This creates an environment for thinking rather than following orders.”

As Paciano made clear in her conversation with Built In, developing an entrepreneurial mindset was just one of many benefits that come from working at the company.

Laura Paciano
VP Marketing • TestFit

TestFit’s real estate feasibility platform makes site planning easy using real-time artificial intelligence, enabling users to quickly design and evaluate potential developments.

How do you build team culture and why is that important for the work that you do?

We’re a unique group of people with varying viewpoints distributed across multiple time zones and countries. The culture we have is one of inclusivity and respect, not only for our colleagues but for our customers as well, and we foster this by taking time to get to know one another as people. We get together once a year for our annual Camp TestFit where we spend multiple days working and taking time for fun.

We also encourage people to demo what they’re working on in our weekly all-hands and break out into small groups for water cooler chit-chat each week. And I’d be remiss not to mention the hilarious custom reactions that are employee-generated in our company Slack.

 The TestFit team at its annual Camp TestFit offsite event


What structures or policies support TestFit’s values, culture and mission?

We really lean into our values of integrity, empathy and innovation and take the extra step to operationalize those values. We have systems in place like awarding tacos on Slack to publicly express gratitude for one another and giving LEGO statue awards out — modeled after the award winner — for embodying our three values. This reinforces our values while also emphasizing our fun-loving culture.

What role do your team members play in building, strengthening or celebrating TestFit’s mission and culture?

Our team members are our company mission and culture. Every time we post on social media, talk to a client or conduct ourselves at work, they are exemplifying our mission and culture. Our product roadmap is driven toward our mission of providing a platform to realize the full potential of land through trusted automation. We also reward everyday examples of our values on an individual level.

How do you help your team grow their careers?

We have biannual reviews for all team members in which we identify three goals for professional development. These, as well as other feedback, both upward and downward, are reviewed on a monthly cadence with the team member’s manager. We also expose our teams to all parts of the company, including financial transparency, and encourage moves internally into different roles where appropriate.


What is the employee value proposition for those thinking about joining TestFit? What impact does working there have on someone’s career?

First and foremost, it’s being treated like a human being with a life outside of work. TestFit is extremely respectful of people’s lives, families, side hustles and more. We also share what’s going on across teams, including monthly reporting, so people gain a whole view of the company. Our CEO often says that if everyone who leaves starts their own company, that would be a fantastic result, which makes us almost a mini incubator of CEOs. 

We have three former employees who have launched their own companies and multiple who have side hustles because they’re passionate, not because they need additional income. All our team members develop an entrepreneurial mindset due to the unusually high level of transparency across our company. Working at TestFit adds accelerant to the fire that is your career thanks to increased business understanding.


“Our CEO often says that if everyone who leaves TestFit starts their own company, that would be a fantastic result, which makes us almost a mini incubator of CEOs.”


What makes TestFit different from other companies you’ve worked at?

I’ve been very fortunate to work for two other companies with excellent cultures, and I can say with confidence that this is my best-ever professional experience. I feel supported, challenged and free to bring my own management style to the team rather than trying to fit the traditional mold of what a leader is supposed to be. TestFit is a rare gem of a company.



Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by TestFit

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