When Kelsey Bishop graduated from Boston College in 2018, she knew she wanted to work in the startup world—she craved a company culture that prioritizes problem solving and innovation at all levels of the organization.
As an undergraduate, Bishop interned at Omni—an on-demand rental and storage startup. After graduating, she took the plunge and moved out to San Francisco to continue working at the startup.
Though Bishop said she enjoyed working at Omni, the company eventually ended operations, and she began to look for a new job. But the next company she worked at did not have a similar workplace culture to the one she had loved at Omni, Bishop said.
“The team just didn’t click as well as I would have hoped, and the culture wasn’t quite what I was looking for,” Bishop said. “I left that role thinking about how culture fits and how finding a team that you love working with is so important for happiness at work.”
Bishop’s experience with this workplace culture inspired her to start her own company, Candor. Candor is a social media platform where users looking to find a new job are able to design profiles that showcase their strengths and weaknesses and advocate for how they work best. Its mission is “to help people find belonging at work,” according to its website.
“When I left [my previous job,] I started thinking about how we get to know each other as professionals, which today is [through] LinkedIn,” Bishop said. “You look at somebody’s past job history, and you maybe have a couple of interviews with them to try to get to know each other, and then you’re supposed to make a decision on whether you want to spend all of your waking hours with this team.”
For Bishop, brief interviews and social media reviewing did not feel like enough information to consider how a potential employee would fit into a company’s workplace environment. Once Bishop recognized the problem and how she could solve it with Candor, she started toying around with prototypes.
“I’m not an engineer,” Bishop said. “[The app] looked super ugly and barely worked, but it got me enough signal to figure out like, ‘Okay, this is what people want.’ Very quickly—this was in a matter of weeks—I was shipping the app, I was shipping landing pages, [and] I was making updates.”
In May 2021, Bishop started working on Candor full time. Though she took on this endeavor alone, Bishop said she relied on connections she had made at BC along the way. Her friend Meg Gonzalez, BC ’17, who studied engineering and computer science at BC, was instrumental in helping Bishop develop the final product of Candor, she said.
“In the early stages, I was very much working on it mostly alone, [and] having people like Meg to bounce ideas off of and help every so often was really great,” Bishop said.
Gonzalez was not the only BC connection that helped Bishop as she started Candor. She also credits the relationships she made through her entrepreneurship co-concentration.
“I was the first cohort that had the entrepreneurship concentration,” Bishop said. “I took every class with professor John Gallaugher. He is so good. I particularly loved TechTrek. I don’t think I would have gotten into startups or technology if I hadn’t done that track, mostly because I just didn’t even know what it was. I went to BC thinking that I was studying finance, and I was gonna go work at a bank after school. And then I took TechTrek and was like, ‘Wait a minute, people like their jobs. Why wouldn’t I do this?’”
Though many people viewed the shift to remote work during the pandemic as an impediment, Bishop said the transition was inevitable. As the world of remote work became increasingly common, Bishop continued developing Candor.
“The pandemic has basically illuminated a lot of the stuff that was going on under the hood when it came to [workplace] culture,” Bishop said. “I don’t think it fundamentally changed anything. Remote work doesn’t change culture… If you have a shitty culture in person, you will have a shitty culture remotely. If you’ve got a great culture in person, you’re likely still going to have a good culture remote. I think that we were always going to be fully remote. I don’t believe you need to work in an office.”
Similarly, John Faulkner-Willcocks, a member of the operations and growth team at Candor, said although he was initially skeptical of working on a fully remote team, Candor has completely changed his mind.
“I’ve spent 10 years advocating that the best teams were teams that worked together physically every day,” Faulkner-Willcocks said. “I spent 10 years believing in that, and that changed during the pandemic a little bit, and then it really changed when I worked with the team at Candor. I’ve always gotten a lot of energy from people, but actually being able to own my schedule, split my time, and have that flexibility probably tripled my productivity. I have two young kids, so I see both of them for like an hour in the morning that I wouldn’t have seen if I was commuting. That’s huge for me.”
Faulkner-Willcocks is not the only member of the Candor team who appreciates the fully remote culture. Felix Lau, who works with Candor on product design, is a self-proclaimed “digital nomad.”
“I’m one of those people who works very autonomously, so there was very little reason for me to be checking into a brick-and-mortar place every day from nine to five, ” Lau said.
Bishop has implemented unique measures to help the Candor team function to the best of its ability. One of these ideas is work trials, where potential hires get a trial period to see how they like working with the team and so the company can see how the potential hire functions on the team.
“You get so much more out of that than [just doing] interviews,” Lau said. “We have a rule of thumb that whenever we actually have someone 50 percent of the way there, we just trial them.”
The team also spends one week per year co-locating, when they all travel to a new destination and work together for a week. These features of working at Candor have helped foster a close relationship among the remote team, Bishop said.
When reflecting on his relationship with Bishop, Faulkner-Willcocks said their connection continued to develop as they worked on Candor.
“When you work in a startup, when you build something that you care about with someone else, when you put all your blood and your sweat and your tears into that together, it creates a very, very special kind of bond,” Faulkner-Willcocks said. “Everybody makes mistakes in front of each other. Everybody sees each other’s mistakes. It’s very vulnerable. It’s very authentic.”
Lau said he has also enjoyed his time working with Bishop and admires how she leads her team.
“[Bishop] was very honest and upfront with everything,” Lau said. “Ever since our first week working together, that has always remained consistent. I absolutely love working with people like that. And she never minces her words, especially when talking about design. She’s kind, but I never have to guess if she likes it or not, which makes my job a lot easier.”
With Candor, Bishop said she aims to bring the work environment she has cultivated within Candor to other companies to improve their productivity and the work-life balance of their employees.
“My favorite part of my job is working with the team,” Bishop said. “The Candor team is so out of my league. It’s kind of insane. They’re all super smart and so hard-working and so talented. That is definitely the highlight [of my job], getting on calls every day and learning from my team.”