This piece is the fifth in a series
Even though Madison’s EatStreet, an online food ordering business, is a relative veteran of the startup world at 5 years old with a presence in more than 150 cities, its offices have a new startup feel — call it a college-y poster and piñata décor vibe.
And once a week, pets are welcome.
Matt Howard, one of the company’s co-founders and its CEO, brings his French bulldog, Lily, to work every Wednesday.
“She likes tables,” Howard laughed, after Lily skidded to a stop atop an IKEA-esque coffee table in the office’s game room.
“More and more (dogs) are starting to come in,” Howard said, explaining the office’s current Wednesdays-only puppy policy.
Howard said many employees are young and not quite to the pet ownership stage of life yet, but a handful of canines have made weekday jaunts to the office, which is located near Monona Terrace in downtown Madison.
A few fluffy dog beds are scattered throughout the office and occasionally trash cans have to be lifted off the floor and placed on desks to prevent interested cruisers from spreading debris.
The canine accessories complement décor that includes a life-size Kanye West cardboard cutout, posters that read “Now Panic and Freak Out” and “Get S*** Done” and a pair of piñatas left over from a Halloween party (“Someone went and got them from Walmart and then never took them down,” Howard said).
EatStreet’s 100 or so employees help pick out the office decorations, according to Howard. They submit requests for Fight Club posters (yep, that one’s also up) and vote how a monthly office budget will be spent. Last month, the money went to a new guitar for the game room.
“There are some really talented musicians in our office,” Howard said, admitting that he doesn’t play the axe much himself.
The guitar is a small fixture in a game room that boasts a skeeball machine, a foosball table and three 70-inch TVs, one of which is hooked up to a Nintendo game console.
“As a startup in Madison, we try our best to have a fun spot,” Howard said.
There’s also a kegerator in the game room, usually with Spotted Cow on tap (despite its MobCraft tap handle).
“Every once in a while, people will have a beer at an afternoon meeting,” Howard said. But it’s not an everyday occurrence. There is, however, “beer Friday” every week, when employees are invited to bring friends to the office from 5-7 p.m. to share a brew and enjoy the digs. They may also choose to walk across the office to enjoy views of Lake Monona from EatStreet’s small balcony.
“My favorite thing to do is drink coffee on the balcony and take in the views of the lake,” Howard said.
There may be another balcony in EatStreet’s future, too — the company is exploring more office space on the next floor up in their building, Howard said.
How will it be adorned?
“You’ve gotta have a mural, you’ve gotta have a beanbag…” the CEO said, reflecting on the current space’s accoutrements.
Add a couple of piñatas, a guitar and some posters and you’re all set: an expansion worthy of a thriving, youthful Madison startup. ￼