Lavalife founder: why company culture is crucial to success

Bruce Croxon explains the HR-related strategies he employed when building his immense corporate empire

When multimillionaire financier and Dragon’s Den investor Bruce Croxon decided to back the startup 360 Incentives, there was one aspect of the company that made it particularly appealing: its corporate culture.
Croxon knows this firsthand, having co-founded a dating site that sold for over $170 million in 2004. When asked what made Lavalife so successful, he credits the company’s commitment to virtues, even at the risk of upsetting investors.
“There’s no easy answer, but when I look back on what got us through the inevitable ups and downs of growing a small business, it was culture,” said Croxon. “Whenever I veered from our core values, I paid the price very heavily.”
One way in which Lavalife recruited employees who could fit this culture was with the “Survival on the Moon Test.” 
In this assessment, applicants were asked to imagine that their spacecraft had just collided with the moon. They then had to rank 15 items, by importance, necessary to survive a 200-mile journey back to base. Candidates first completed this exercise independently, then in a small group setting.
This exercise allowed Croxon and his HR team to evaluate whether an applicant could take other viewpoints into consideration, and remain flexible when making decisions.
“The guy that insisted that a Power Bar was the most important thing to survival while you froze to death – there’s something else going on there,” Croxon said. “It’s a good indication that that person is not going to be a good fit for our organisation.”

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