Adam Butler
October 3, 2022

How What Happens in Vegas Impacts What Happens After Vegas: Our Curai Health Offsite

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Suppose you were to imagine a new tech startup pre-2020. In that case, you might think of a group of people wearing jeans and a hoodie, in a non-traditional office, sipping coffee from a Nespresso machine and arriving early for yoga. You wouldn’t be wrong to associate these things with our team. However, one thing that might not have been as obvious about our team was the diverse and dedicated group of employees ready to change our world by first transforming the US healthcare system through the use of novel tech.

Like many other companies, the pandemic challenged us to navigate in a remote environment. Once a team of 26 located in Northern California, we quickly shifted to work from home across the country. Along the way, we kept asking ourselves, “How do we maintain our culture?” While this question continues to challenge our HR and leadership team, we knew one step in that direction would be to bring everyone together. Like the rest of the world, we thought we’d have this opportunity sooner than 2022, but after lockdowns, variant mutations, and restrictions, we waited and waited….. and waited some more.

Finally, in May 2022, it came to life. We brought 47 Curaians together in Las Vegas.

You might be asking, “Why Vegas?” With so many team members across the United States, we needed something centrally located that allowed for work and play! The goal was to create an environment where we could completely disconnect and enjoy being away as a team. We considered the following criteria when making this decision: accessibility, hotel accommodations, the space to brainstorm/co-work, options for good entertainment, a major airport, and cost. After comparing the options, we realized that Las Vegas would be the ideal destination. Other locations we considered were Austin, Nashville, and San Francisco.

Once we decided on the location, the team got to work. The first step was accommodations. We wanted an intimate place to avoid anyone getting lost at the slot machines in transit to a meeting. We ended up choosing Embassy Suites near the University. It was close to the airport, not too far from the strip, free of a smoky casino, and reasonably priced. Our hotel coordinator Jonathan, could not have been more fabulous and accommodating. Since our three-person People Operations Team was planning the event, the fast and reliable turnaround time between questions, planning, and logistics was critical.

With the logistics falling into place, up next was programming. We planned for a short trip with a mix of fun and work. Here is how things panned out:

Day 1 (Arrivals and evening programming)

To kick things off, we greeted the team with a Happy Hour. As it was May the 4th, we mixed in some Star Wars flair and activities. You’ll see in the photo below, our CEO and other team members dressed up as Yoda, Chewbacca, and other Star Wars characters. While this may seem like a trivial detail or just a fun addition, the purpose lies much deeper. When someone like your CEO or another key team leader embraces the silliness and participates in this way, it helps remove barriers and builds trust. It subtly gives permission for others to be themselves. And in a world that is constantly telling us to conform, we want our team to show up as themselves and bring the uniqueness of their background, experience, and learnings to the table so that we can continue to build something great! This is exactly what we observed throughout the week: organic conversations where people showed up.

After kicking off the event, we sent everyone to dinner with cross-functional team members. One of the challenges, but one we were up for, was the range of employees’ comfort with COVID measures. Therefore, as we planned the program, we had to consider things like outdoor dining, outdoor activities, temperature checks, and providing COVID provisions. Additionally, we set up a corporate Lyft account to help our team members bill us directly and easily navigate between places. We chose restaurants with outdoor seating. This was more challenging than you think in Las Vegas, where air conditioning is coveted.

Another component we included was gifting welcome packages to each person. These included newly branded swag as well as COVID kits. Each kit consisted of masks, COVID tests, sanitizer, and Emergen-C.

As everyone knows, Vegas doesn’t sleep, so neither did we. After dinner, some of the team made their way to various extracurricular activities. Our Clinical Innovation Team went axe throwing, others ended up at White Castle, and several folks attended a Silk Sonic show at the MGM. One employee really appreciated the opportunity to attend the concert with members of the leadership team because of the 1:1 interaction they had, a.k.a. Participating together in the enjoyment of music made the leader more approachable!

Day 2 (full day scheduled)

We started bright and early with a cheese-related icebreaker. Folks officially introduced themselves and did so while sharing their favorite cheese. (WE LOVE CHEESE at Curai). How cheese became a thing at Curai is a story for another blog. One employee stated that their favorite memory of the entire week was during this session when a fellow engineer introduced themselves with a “YOOOOOOO, I am Jaffe”. This quickly became a repeated phrase throughout the event.

Our fearless CEO, Neal Khosla, gave a State of The Union address where he highlighted his passion for the work we are doing and shared excitement for the future. The fireside chat that followed with guest speaker, Dr. Molly Coye (a member of our Board of Directors) built on this excitement as she also shared her enthusiasm. This was a special moment because it was the first time for many of our employees to hear from a board member. It prompted several follow-up conversations, including an opportunity for an engineer to demo our product for her and get feedback.

After a delicious buffet lunch, the afternoon was spent navigating between smaller team sessions. Our engineers held a poster session highlighting their projects. The Medical Assistants facilitated a device playground where employees tested out potential medical equipment that we may send out to our patients in the future. And our Product team ran a roadmap planning session where they aligned on goals for the upcoming quarter. One of our biggest takeaways from the feedback we gathered was that folks really enjoyed this time and wanted more of it. Not only did they get to show off their work, but this was the first time some of our physicians got to interact and brainstorm, in person, with our engineers. Specifically, one of our ML Engineers shared learnings of critical feedback they received that was prompted from an organic conversation.

We topped off the day with a walking food tour around Old Town Las Vegas. We departed from the hotel on a tour bus. The drive was filled with mini dance parties, acapella microphone moments, and laughter. I don’t think the bus driver anticipated Club Curai when he handed over the microphone and music to our very own DJs (shout out to Jen Jen & Bridgette). The tour itself took us throughout downtown Vegas where we tasted delicious food and learned about the area’s history. Highlights from this event included interacting with new people at each stop on the tour.

Of course, the fun didn’t end there. More than half the company ended up dancing the night away to the Chainsmokers at XS. The commitment to having a good time was so strong, that after one employee was turned away for lack of dress code, they went back to the hotel, and returned in style to join the fun. This particular moment was talked about for weeks after and to this day is a laughable highlight.

Day 3 (Morning session and departures)

Our last morning kicked off with a team icebreaker where folks worked in their table groups to find common facts. We learned about those who had siblings, those who liked White Castle, those who enjoyed hiking, and the like. This was followed by a Q&A session, where folks asked questions of our Executive Team. This fostered conversations around company strategy and direction. To end the event, we hosted an employee BINGO game where we awarded the winners with “cheesy” prizes. And by “cheesy”, yes we are referring to actual cheese-related gifts. We also brought in a photographer for employees to get headshots done. One small detail we felt was important was for folks who couldn’t make it to be involved. We printed out their “Big Heads,” and carried them with us throughout the event (see photo below).

After the event ended, several folks extended their stay over the weekend and enjoyed more quality time together.

Overall, we are proud to have successfully executed the event. We captured feedback from 82% of our participants in a follow-up survey. 100% agreed with the following statements:

  • The offsite positivity impacted their perception of the company
  • They enjoyed the opportunity to connect with colleagues
  • The offsite was well organized
  • They felt proud to work with their colleagues
  • They felt more connected to the company

Additionally, everyone ranked their overall experience a 5 out of 5 which reinforced the idea that this event was impactful. We also wanted to see how an event like this would impact our employee NPS score. We saw an increase of 12 points.

We did receive constructive feedback around the specific sessions, the allotted time, and future event ideas. We learned that the most popular events were the non-formal, in-between time spent with each other. This says a lot about the power of human connection, as it was the first time most of us had ever met in person.

We walked away understanding that this type of connection is not only necessary for success but also critical for folks to build relationships with their teammates and colleagues. While we still might not have the answer to how to create the best culture, we certainly know that fostering these types of interactions is crucial to driving trust and performance across the organization. As remote work continues to evolve, we too will shift and grow.

We are always looking for remote activities to enhance our connection. If you have ideas to share or what to learn more about the planning behind this event, then please reach out to

A special thanks to Ally Ranier and Sarah Lewis for their contributions to the event and their edits to this post.

Written by People Experience Manager, Jenae Woodward-Williams

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