"We expect people to really buy into our vision and that vision is grand. We expect people to make other people around them better."

− Al Goldstein | Co-Founder + CEO

"No way in hell I could ever go back to having an office."

− Adam Hughes | COO

"It’s a culture of builders, not climbers. None of the founders or managers or execs have an office. We all sit on the floor."

− John Sun | Co-Founder + Chief Credit Officer

"It doesn't matter who you are or where you came from or what your position is, everyone is willing to hear every opinion."

− Rob Reynolds | VP of Product

"When you start to work on a problem there’s not a lot of red tape. We all want to move fast."

− Charles Whittaker | Head of US Product

Avant: A Culture of Builders, Not Climbers

Casey Gordon | May 12, 2016

“If startups have a bad culture they are going to die. It’s pretty straightforward.” Al Goldstein doesn’t mince words. Why should he when his achievements practically speak for themselves?

Avant is the third of an increasingly successful series of companies Al has co-founded. The first: CashNetUSA, now Enova International, which sold in 2006 for $265M. The second: Pangea Properties, a real estate investment and management company that now operates 10,000 units across Chicago, Indianapolis, and Baltimore.

Whether standing within Avant’s enormous central atrium or taking in the gleaming view of the Chicago river, it’s almost unbelievable that just three years ago the booming online lending platform was four people working out of a windowless room.

And while it may be hard to remember that Avant is still, technically speaking, a startup, it’s easy to see why it has the trappings of an enduring global tech giant. Avant’s contagious culture — “a culture of builders, not climbers” — forms a rock solid foundation for success.

At its core, Avant is about solving complex problems. The world’s most advanced machine learning algorithms aside, people with a knack for leading-edge thinking are critical to Avant’s mission. This is why the 80,000 square foot headquarters is designed to encourage inquiry, creativity, and above all, action.

Co-Founder and Chief Credit Officer John Sun says keeping the workstations of every manager and executive on the open floor promotes a “get stuff done attitude.” Head of US Product Charles Whittaker agrees: “There’s not a lot of red tape. We all want to move fast.”

When people do need a moment to stretch out — both mentally and physically — there’s space for that too. The office is peppered with private and semi-private work zones, equipped with pillows and complete with themed decor ranging from coral reef to Nintendo nostalgia.

In March, when asked about his hiring strategy for a rapidly growing company, Al told the panel at Ethos 4.0 to “make sure you have the right 20 people and it will get you to 100.”

Considering that he took Avant from “four people in a closet” to 950 across Chicago, LA, and London, we’d say he was being modest.

Watch Avant CEO Al Goldstein on our very first FIVEinSIXTY.