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‘It was quite therapeutic getting a better understanding of what we are as a company’

An interview with Paul Archer, CEO of Duel.

 Paul Archer, CEO of Duel, attended a one-hour workshop I ran at Runway East on how to utilise a company’s CulturalDNA (values, motivations and behaviours) to hire and build teams more effectively. A couple of days later Paul emailed me to thank me for the session and to say that as a result of the workshop he and his team had met up and taken the first steps to defining their Duel’s values.

 I was impressed that he had taken action so quickly, in a matter of days after the workshop. I was also interested to discuss how he had set about defining the values with his team and how they were planning to integrate their values into their hiring process. 



What steps did you take to come up with Duel’s values?


After your workshop we spent some time thinking about how we wanted to approach defining our values. We decided that we wanted to see what our people thought the company’s values were and what they would come up without any steering from the founders. We are a team of five and we wanted to try to understand and discover what the whole team thinks about our values and culture. We asked them to think about:

  • What do we stand for?

  • What motivates you?

  • Why do you enjoy working here?

  • Why do our customers enjoy working with us?

 It was actually quite therapeutic getting an understanding of what we are as a company. It’s a great feeling when you make the invisible visible, and we realised that as a team we are pretty much aligned in our thinking about our values and culture.


What did you do once you had defined the values?


One of the main reasons we went through the exercise was to ensure that we make the right hiring decisions as we build out our team, so we decided to review the unsuccessful hires that we had made in the past. We haven’t made that many but we used this as an opportunity as a team to try to understand what didn’t work and why. We checked our values against the unsuccessful hires we had made and in retrospect it was clear why they were the wrong hires for our team.

 We used this to really delve deeper into what our values mean. For example we discussed the difference between people who are naturally gregarious and those who aren’t. It is not realistic to expect everyone in the team to be the gregarious outgoing type, it’s clearly not a value for us, but what is important is you must at a fundamental level have a propensity to be happy. So to join Duel you don’t have to be naturally gregarious but you must be able to demonstrate how you represent our values, one of which is happiness.

 We took the values and wrote them into our current job description. Integrating our values into the job description  allows us to give a normally bland document some personality, and really gives potential candidates a good idea of what’s important to us.



What are your values?


It’s too early in the process to say that we have our values set in stone. This is an on-going process, currently our core values are

  • Life-first (balance, freedom, growth, efficiency and – most importantly – happiness)

  • Loyalty

  • Ownership (responsibility, success driven and pro-activeness)

 Life first

  • It’s all about efficiency and balance. Balance is enabled by efficiency. The more efficient you are the more time you can spend living outside work. Don’t waste time doing the wrong things at work, so that you can leave at decent hour and enjoy life outside of work.

  • We want to employ people who are efficient in what they do, people who can get work done.

  • We are not clock-watchers. If you get your work done by 5:30pm then go and enjoy yourself riding your mountain bike, or whatever.

  • It’s important to us for our team to have a life outside work.


  • Be autonomous and take ownership

  • At Duel employees can choose their hours, and we have unlimited holidays. I was annoyed and irritated by having to count peoples holidays, so we decided to scrap the holiday limit. It turns out that people work harder if you trust them to get on with their job and they are more effective


  • It’s important that you have the ability to grow in your role and the company

  • We encourage living healthily and offer our team gym membership

  • We have a budget for learning and our team can buy whatever books they need or want


  • We want to hire happy people, people who are predisposed to be happy.

  • We hire people who are able to make themselves happy through their work and life outside of work.

  • We look for people who are generally positive by nature and don’t dwell in depression and other forms of negativity


  • We look for the kind of person who is loyal to what they do, who is not looking for the next job all the time

Ownership and Responsibility

  • We want our team to take responsibility for the work they do

Success driven

  • We are looking for people who are turned on by being challenged in the work they do and want to achieve success more than earning more money


  • We are building a team of people who are proactive, take action, and get stuff done.


An online job advert is one of the first places that a new employee may get to interact with your CulturalDNA. It makes sense to describe your culture and include your values in the job ad in order to attract like minded candidates and start to inform the eventual successful candidate about your company’s culture. 

Comparing Duel’s Growth Marketer job description below to the average online ad, you can see clearly how Duel differentiates from the other bland job ads. Secondly, you can see how they have given the copy energy and personality by describing their culture and values to attract candidates who might fit in with the Duel culture:

Senior Digital and Growth Marketer (Bristol/London) £25,000 – £34,000

You will be responsible for managing Duel’s social presence, creating, writing and managing content, PR, SEO, paid search and paid social. In short, you will be the hero of all our online activities…

As a key employee in a dynamic startup you will have to be comfortable wearing a number of different hats, but generally you’ll wear the marketing or ‘growthhacking’ hat, obsessively metrics driven to bring amazing, qualified sales leads to our sales team.

You will work closely with the Founder and will directly affect the success of the business. We will build a team around you as we grow. You will also contribute ideas and additions to the product based on customer feedback.

Watch the Job Description video


Duel is an award winning, 10 month old, well-funded, VC backed start-up.  Our customers are global brands and marketing agencies and they love us because we help them get amazing content.  We do this by building an automated Customer/User Generated Content platform that helps brands, agencies, record labels and e-commerce stores to incentivise their customers and audiences to create content – photos, ideas, reviews, videos… anything – for them.

The business was founded in Bristol by World Record breaking adventurer, Paul Archer, as a tool to bring adventure into people’s lives and this continues to underscore our core philosophy.

Having recently expanded into London, we are seeking ambitious, smart and fun people to join our team in Bristol. We are on track for substantial growth over the next 12 months and require team members who can grow accordingly.  The product went live in December 2015 and has since won a number of awards (SXSW, Publicis90, Unilever Foundry) and worked with major brands and agencies.


  • Flexible and fun, but absolutely driven to making the business a success

  • Tech and process driven – we make tech, we love tech and we use tech to make our lives easier where possible

  • We work with people we like, and we like the people we work with. This means after work drinks, happy hours and boozy lunches happen regularly.

  • We stand by our Core Values: Life-first (balance, freedom, growth, efficiency and – most importantly – happiness), loyalty and ownership (responsibility, success driven and pro-activeness)


  • Data and metrics driven. Test, iterate, test, iterate…

  • 3-5+ years experience

  • Quantitative modelling

  • Solid organisational skills – you will be working with a CRM and need to keep perfect track of deals

  • Experience across multiple marketing and advertising channels – PPC, social, paid social, content marketing, lead generation etc.


  • Total internet obsession. There’s not a cat meme you don’t know about.

  • Experience creating content. We want to see it! You made something, it’s out there and you can link people to it.

  • Regularly updated social media profiles.

  • Excellent writing skills, with evidence to back it up. Ideally witty.

  • Passion for technology and startups

  • Some experience of growth hacking

  • Advertising industry experience – working with brands, agencies or publishers

  • Your own web presence – social media account, blog, YouTube account etc.

  • Good chat and a mischievous take on life


  • Open plan, busy office

  • Free tea and coffee (and beer & wine on a Friday… and most other days!)

  • Flexible working hours and home working options (in fact, actively encouraged!)

  • Unlimited / Zero holiday policy.  If you don’t need to be in the office, do the work required from anywhere in the world – Skype is a wonderful thing. Life-first.

  • On-going training where required

  • Perks: gym membership, Headspace subscription and work related or personal growth reading/Audible budget.

  • Options scheme for all full time employees – if you help us build the company, you should own some of it!

  • Bonus package

(No recruiters please! We would rather save the money and put it toward an awesome team day out. Also no phone calls. Everything to must be done by email and if you can’t follow these simple rules, we don’t want to hear from you anyway. Cheers!)

If you are interested in this role you can apply here.

 About Duel

Duel is a platform that allows brands to unlock the power of User Generated Content, driving engaging content in a manageable and brand safe environment. Duel’s UGC Management System controls the collection, ranking, sorting, moderation and storage of a brands fans’ content. Because Duel gives brands the ability to interact with real people the images and video content that the fans create for the brands are seen as more authentic and result in higher conversion and click through rates. The company works with large brands and agencies like Unilever, Publicis and Visit Britain. Duel has offices in London and Bristol.

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