Last week, SendGrid celebrated its 2013 kickoff event in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Four days of team building, goal setting, and yes…sun and sand. SendGrid has offices in Anaheim, Boulder, Denver, Romania, San Francisco, NYC, London and Berlin, so it’s great for us all to come together once a year to reflect on the year before and to gear up for what’s ahead.

Friday night started off with a kickoff dinner overlooking the beach that included lots of good food, laughs, and…dancing. Lots of dancing. Pictures are excluded to protect the worst (or best?) offenders–but let’s just say, SendGrid has some serious moves.

Saturday was devoted to goal setting and team building activities. Awards were also given out to our resident fantasy football champion (props to Danny Randa) and to team members who best embody the 4H’s–Honesty, Hunger, Humility, and Happiness–qualities that serve as SendGrid’s cultural foundation. Congrats to Ryan (honesty), Mohammed (hunger), Jill (humility), and Carole (happiness) for personifying these values.

Towards the end of the session, SendGrid’s three founders, Isaac Saldana, Jose Lopez, and Tim Jenkins opened up the floor for a company-wide Q&A. Since the company doubled since the last time they did a similar chat, they shared some stories that are near and dear to them and the company. They discussed how they all met, how SendGrid got its start, and explained the numerous trials and triumphs they’ve experienced since launching SendGrid in the spring of 2009. When one SendGridder asked the founders what their proudest moment with SendGrid has been, they unanimously agreed that the current moment–the three of them addressing 120 of their co-workers about where SendGrid began and where it’s going, was their proudest moment. It’s fair to say that it was a very special moment for all members of the SendGrid team.

To close out the morning, SendGrid introduced it’s new Community Day Benefit, which allows every employee to take one work day out of the year to devote to a service project of their choice. To add context to this benefit, AJ Bourg from our Ops team spoke about a mission trip he took to Uganda in 2012. AJ volunteered at Musana–a community
development organization that aids the development of children and orphans into capable and skilled individuals. His speech encouraged all of us to contribute our time to projects that we are passionate about–we’re all thankful to SendGrid for allowing us to do so in 2013.

After the presentations and speeches concluded, everyone headed to the beach for  the first ever SendGrid Amazing Race (insert trumpet fanfare here). 
Employees were split up into 11 different teams and were charged with completing 5 team tasks (located throughout the resort) as quickly as possible. Winners were to receive serious bragging rights…and a little cash money to boot. Challenges ranged from transporting a marble from one end of the tennis court to another using 2 foot portions of half pvc pipe, to swimming in an Ironman worthy relay race, to constructing a tent blindfolded, to doing 1,000 reps of pushups, sit-ups, and squats (we take fitness seriously here at SendGrid!), to having all non-engineering team members successfully organize lines of Python, PHP, and Java code. Needless to say, this race was not for the faint of heart! Major props to Team #6 for being the first ever SendGrid Amazing Race Champions! Rock on.

The trip ended with various excursions: snorkeling, deep sea fishing, zip lining, swimming with the dolphins, spa time and golf. Sunday night concluded with a team farewell dinner on the beach before we all headed out to our respective flights.

We’re all back at the office now, excited to execute the goals we put into place during the kickoff. It’s certainly a weekend we’ll all never forget–making memories with co-workers old and new, and prepping for a new year that aims to be bigger and better than the one before. I know we all feel so grateful to work for such a generous, inspiring, and motivated company.

We’re expanding our team, so if you like what you’ve read, and want to join a fast moving, lean company where every team member has a huge stake in the company’s success, check out our Careers page to see where we’re hiring.

Jillian Wohlfarth
As SendGrid's Director of Content, Jillian is responsible for ensuring that SendGrid provides valuable thought leadership content through the blog, whitepapers, webcasts, and more. When not writing and editing, you can find Jillian frequenting Denver restaurants in search of the best queso.