Kevin Mako on Industrial Design Company Culture in Forbes Article

Kevin Mako Featured in Forbes: Expert Employee Appreciation Strategies

Forbes. The name alone sparks feelings of awe and respect in aspiring entrepreneurs, business leaders, and professionals of every sort. That’s because anyone who’s anyone has been featured in or has contributed to this exceptionally coveted business magazine. Kevin Mako was just invited to join this prestigious list. He’s led us to win incredible team awards and certifications, such as Great Places to Work and Growth 500.

Most recently, we’ve been listed as one of the fastest-growing companies on the Inc. 5000 Texas list! Yeah, that’s right. We know a thing or two about building a strong industrial design company culture. So who better to get insights on how to build a great company culture than from the boss himself?

Kevin, along with other members of the Young Entrepreneur Council, was featured in a Forbes article to share strategies leaders should use when praising employees for building a happier workforce.

Kevin speaking.

Your team is one of the key elements that will determine the success of your business. Especially if you’re a small business or startup that, out of necessity, dishes out more responsibilities to fewer people. As you grow and scale your business, you won’t have the time or energy to address the inevitable accounting, marketing, or sales challenges on your own.

To build a team that can help you overcome these challenges, you need to have chemistry and trust in one another. More importantly, they’ll need to have trust in you – the leader of the business. So as the leader of your business, one of your core responsibilities is to build an industrial design company culture to grow and nurture a happy team.

A happy employee is a more productive employee.

Sounds easy, right? Just be specific and make sure your praise is sincere and meaningful.

Not quite.

Building a Strong Industrial Design Company Culture

When you’re building your industrial design company culture, don’t overdo it and dish out accolades at every opportunity – these start to feel like meaningless participation awards in a hurry. On the flip side, if you start praising certain individuals over others, you run into the risk of favouritism. This also becomes more apparent, whether intentional or not, in smaller teams like startups. So a good leader should also be aware of how their other employees may feel about their coworkers receiving praise. 

So aside from the obvious salary bump, free office snacks, or pool table in the break room, what is it that really makes an employee happy? It turns out employer approval is at the top of the list when it comes to job satisfaction for millennials. And here’s a sneak peek at how MAKO Design + Invent strategizes to develop a strong industrial design company culture.

Regularly Conduct Peer-To-Peer Award Sessions

Ask our team, and they’ll tell you that these meetings are unlike any meeting that you’ve ever attended. Every Friday, near the end of the day, we all run to the fridge and grab an ice-cold beer (or non-alcoholic beverage!) because it’s time for Beer O’Clock. Yes, you read that right. During these relaxed meetings, we recognize each other for their help with projects, tasks, and everything else in between.

It might seem like a small gesture at first, but it’s a great way to learn from your peers. As you get to know each other, you’ll learn about your team’s different skill sets and projects that align with business objectives. 

Invite The Employee To Share Their Own Excellent Work

This is a great way to highlight collaboration, prove there’s no “I” in the word team and create a more inclusive industrial design company culture. Rather than focusing on one person’s achievements, everyone gets an opportunity to brag a little.

Once a month at MAKO Design + Invent, each team of designers and engineers shares some of the projects they’ve worked on and highlights how they collaborate to solve problems together. This process is incredibly valuable for especially challenging projects that require creative solutions. Employees can share ways with the entire team to think outside to box.

Ensure Praise Is Consistent, Fair and Reliable

This one comes directly from Kevin. Give praise regularly. And make sure to give praise fairly. Acknowledge that some tasks are harder than others and place more emphasis on accomplishments that require a lot of effort. Lastly, be predictable enough, so your employees have a benchmark to know that great work will be given praise.

In the Forbes article, Kevin references our monthly project showcase mentioned above, “My development teams cumulatively design over a dozen physical consumer products every month for our clients, so I find it especially important to ensure that consistent, fair and reliable praise is given, not just from me, but also from the managers and, even more importantly, from their peers.” 

Mako Design team outing to build a stronger industrial design company culture.


As you can tell from the examples above, we’ve been able to create an industrial design company culture around peer endorsements to ensure everyone understands and appreciates their contributions. Over the years, we’ve built an environment that’s welcoming and, dare we say, fun. And we’ve been able to do it because the desire to make MAKO employees happy comes from the top down.

It’s how we’ve been able to attract experienced designers, engineers, and other talents from Fortune 500 companies, including Dell, Nike, Bose, and Boeing. This synchronous combination of skill and chemistry is the key to our productivity and how we create world-class products for our clients.

For a full list of employee recognition strategies, you can check the Forbes article here!

About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial designmechanical engineeringelectrical engineeringpatent referralprototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!

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