Two thoughts will likely accompany most first-time visits to LevelUp’s new Boston office…
1) “I am not in the right place.”
2) “I don’t care, I’m not leaving, it’s better here.”
Thousands of words could be shed trying to describe everything there is to see in the LevelUp’s offices—from the walls covered with brightly colored murals of things like a giant squid fighting an octopus, to the little pieces of founder Seth Priebatsch South African origins like the 6 foot wicker giraffe, to the floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with nerf guns, action figures and toy cars—there is a lot a going visually. In short, if it too much fun to be in an office, someone at LevelUp is probably looking at it right now.
Having a cool office by itself is no great accomplishment in a world where anyone with a checkbook and a good interior designer can achieve the same effect. Further, one might wonder if such a whimsical working environment might betray a lack of seriousness of purpose. The most corporate thing in the massive space are the cubicles the employees sit in—and those are a hand-me-downs from an insurance agency that occupied the office before they moved in. Other than that, the LevelUp’s office initially presents as the greatest imaginable combination of a kindergarten and a college dorm room. Undeniably cool, but does it scream smart?
In this case, that answer is also a resounding yes—because what you see is not the work of professional designers but instead the work of artists and dedicated amateurs.
Ten local graffitists that the company found on Craigslist were turned loose on the walls, after extensively screening of dozens of applicants.
The conference rooms are all individually named and custom decorated—the fun one is called “The Sports Deck,” the sad one is called “Winterfell.”
The engineers in charge of running the testing lab for POS interactivity designed the area as a shrine to the video game Portal. Making the windows of the doors alone took hours, required the patience of a saint and skills with an exacto knife that no one should have.
Despite the toys, bright colors and unreasonably nice kitchen area, LevelUp new office quickly communicates two things to visitors. One, the casually dressed people around them take everything about their business—down to the beanbag chairs– very seriously. Two, they are planning to get a lot bigger.
That serious of purpose and eye toward growth is translated into the next phase approach to the business that LevelUp is undertaking right now. They have the space, now they have to fill it—both literally and creatively.
“Given a rapid increase in demand, we’ve needed to hire for just about every position in the company,” LevelUp CEO Seth Priebatsch noted. “Our new office is better suited for our growing numbers and we’ve really made this new space our own. Not only does it have a better layout to accommodate the influx of engineers, account managers and sales team as we continue to grow, but we also boasts crazy and creative murals from local artists we’ve invited to help decorate, including a Darth Vader wielding the power of mobile payments.”
Currently, LevelUp serves1.5 million customers and 14,000 businesses nationwide. Communications head Matt Kiernan told us, when we stopped by, that that this means their main recruiting priorities right now are account professionals, to make sure partner experiences are seamless, and sales people, to help push LevelUp’s reach farther and wider.
Pushing that reach will mean pushing the limits of its core business. LevelUp now is mainly known for its mobile payments app, and the company will continue to refine its mPay solutions to make them increasingly user friendly and seamless. The next level though is in not just providing an app, but also a platform for other developers to create their own custom products powered by LevelUp’s engineering. This transition is already starting with a payments app for the Pebble Smartwatch, add LevelUp payments via the food ordering service Foodler.
“The LevelUp API has opened the gates for developers all over the world to build seamless payments into any service, whether it be online, mobile, or wearable,” said Tung Pham, co-founder of BeatifulLab, the company behind the LevelUp Pebble app.
In a word, the slogan for LevelUp 2.0 is “more.” More space, more employees, more services, more partners, more users, more Darth Vader, more LED lights—more. In the rarest of feats for those in tech, they will even look cool while they are doing it.
Want to get a first hand look for yourself? No problem, take the virtual tour.