Onsite Tales of Sitka

Posted by Alan Zhao


August 13, 2021

A team photo from our Alaska onsite

When I was brought onto the team in May as an intern, I was thrilled to learn we’d be having a work trip to Sitka, AK. I had been to Alaska a number of times for cold-weather training while in the military, so the irony of going back as a civilian with a company named Warmly was particularly delightful!


Getting out of the tiny airport was the easiest flight experience ever, and we were greeted with fresh, crisp air and beautiful, green mountains behind a charming town. Half of our team was staying in a local’s house, with the other half at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, our work HQ for the trip. We drove a mile from the airport, along the water’s edge, and onto the campus, with wooden buildings, tall trees with frequent bald eagles, and a stream running through it!

We had our first formal meeting down at a rocky beach where we made s’mores, had many first face-to-face chats, and drew pictures of the future on the backs of paper plates. We had our first Sitka creative moment -- no one had pens to draw, so we charred the tips of our wooden marshmallow skewers. Definitely a great first in-person bonding activity. 

It started to drizzle, which we learned was pretty standard throughout the day, so we wrapped up the evening by explaining our cave-art-like drawings. Burning them makes them come true, right?


After breakfast at the fine arts camp, we had our opening work meeting in our vaulted ceiling, wooden office space, the only downside to which was the echo! We ended the meeting with a brainstorming session, led by Max, on what we were interested in finding out from Warmly’s launch with the Zoom App store, and what methods we could use for measurement. We were able to shake off some angst about the launch and have comforting side convos about what we were thinking and feeling. 

At the end of the workday, Shep led a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion session where we moved throughout the room according to our own identity perceptions. It was fun to watch as we walked who was going to each identity based on the prompts, and people vacillating between several.


We found a cool Gazebo, above the campus stream, where we could take our Sitka team pic. We crammed all of our virtual and physical people into it, snapped the picture, and (like any good tech startup) jetted up to the office to start work. 

In the afternoon, Carina and Glen held a chalkboarding session (on a real chalkboard!) about a specific product development. We each took 10 minutes to think up our most viral version of this (secret) product, shared with each other, and then voted. This was a really fun session because it displayed not just our own personal interests, but also what we each thought others would be attracted to.


We started the morning with an intimate meditation session - only three of us showed. I don’t actually know how to meditate, but I followed Max and Jim’s lead, and in no time I was doing a really poor job of not getting lost in my thoughts. When I opened my eyes, Max and Jim were staring at me, kindly not interrupting what they assumed was me meditating.

The highlight of work today was a Zoom meeting with one of our investors and experts, James Currier, GP at NfX. It’s always exciting to hear thoughts from a leader in your industry, and especially when they’re talking right to you about your company, tying in decades-old relevant anecdotes! 

We also had our “Warmite” graduation, where all the new employees became full-fledged members. Totally corny and totally fun. I enjoyed getting random pieces of info about each person for the slide show, like this super cute one of Jim and his wife!


Today was boating in the Sitka Sound! We rented a couple small boats and took groups either sightseeing or fishing. (If you know how to fish, please join our team so that we catch more fish on our next trip!) Whales were amazing to see, but otters were the cutest and most entertaining of the wildlife. Several people found out their tolerance levels for boats on the ocean. Trooper awards go out to Glen Lipka and Nicole Creshon.


A cool thing that started happening toward the end of the trip was random people in Sitka coming up to us and asking what Warmly is, because they had seen us walking around in our bright purple hoodies throughout the week? 

Our last activity night was really fun. The Lipka fam guided us in a musical rhythm and tone session. It was fun to see how talented the kids were, even though they got skunked in Bugout chess by me and Max.


Several of us took a last drive, into the mountains of Sitka, and then boarded our plane. The only thing many of us may not miss is the slightly ever-present and not entirely irrational fear (exhilaration for some) of a bear being around a corner or tree. We’re unanimously looking forward to the next offsite trip!

Aug 13, 2021