StartUp Culture Series – Part 1: Matthew Hager of Poetic Systems

Dustin Staiger

In October of 2016, McCoy-Rockford hosted “Understanding Startup Culture and its Impact on Businesses” with our cohosts Turnstone and Cameron Management. The event included conversations with panelists possessing unique perspectives on startup culture in today’s evolving office environment.

This is part 1 of our StartUp Culture Series. Today, we’ll look at some highlights from our conversation with Matthew Hager. Hager is CEO and Founder of Poetic Systems, a web design and app development agency in Houston, Texas.



After Hager dropped out of school to wholeheartedly pursue his passion for coding, he took a job at an energy company. It was during his short tenure there that he discovered that far too many office environments suffer from impracticality.

Hager noticed teams at the energy company were divided into pods by job function. This created disconnects and communication challenges and caused Hager to ask a question that exhibited he had a startup culture mindset even before he founded Poetic Systems in Houston. If there are several different skill sets (designers, copywriters, developers, etc.) coming together on the same project, why isn’t the office flexible enough to support that?                   

Why isn’t the traditional office flexible enough to support the way project teams work?

For too long, the answer was that each project team may have a different mix of members and skill sets. For the workplace to accommodate this, workers would need temporary space where they could come together and collaborate face-to-face. If workers stick to their own desks, that ends up creating additional e-mail or requires shouting across the room. Rather than settling for that status quo, startup culture thinkers like Hager give temporary collaborative workspaces a try. Some even make workstations temporary (the term for this is hot desking.).  


The open office revolution brought with it plenty of benefits, but it didn’t solve every problem. A company doesn’t go from inefficient to efficient overnight simply by ridding itself of closed-off cubicles. A startup culture goes the extra mile by not only creating the right layout but also implementing ideas and providing tools that will ensure success. At Hager’s Poetic Systems, collaboration areas and campfire tables are set up with whiteboards and portable TV monitors so workers can come together with little hassle.

Not only does startup culture create the right layout, it implements ideas and tools that ensure success


When asked about the most difficult aspects of running an entrepreneurial company, Hager said, “Finding and retaining your talents is probably the biggest challenge. At the end of the day, whenever the competition is high, people really pay attention to the space and flexibility. It’s really important for attracting talent…and super important for retaining your talent.”

Inspiring a startup culture introduces the next phase of workplace efficiency and effectiveness. Simply pushing workers to accomplish more isn’t enough, a startup culture empowers employees to collaborate and create using their workspace as a tool for innovation. As Matthew Hager at Poetic Systems demonstrates, startup culture doesn’t stand in opposition to traditional office space, but it pushes it into evolution.


1. Startup culture eliminates impractical layouts, creating flexible setups that help workers comfortably collaborate.

2. Startup culture doesn’t just introduce good ideas, but tailors them to each unique setting.

3. Startup culture is an important factor in attracting and retaining the best talent. After salary, workers pay most attention to the environment and flexibility of their workspace.