Employees at EatStreet, the online takeout-ordering software business, can enjoy cuddle breaks with their dogs. Hungry workers at Spredfast Madison, the social media management firm, have the option to head for the self-serve cereal bar or sit down for a free lunch.

The special perks and open floor plans at these Madison-area companies, as well as their work-hard-play-hard cultures, are inspired by Silicon Valley startups.

Spredfast Madison and EatStreet underwent major changes recently that likely will appeal to potential candidates seeking jobs in the software industry.

Spredfast is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and acquired the Madison company, formerly known as Shoutlet, in August 2015. Spredfast Madison has 55 employees, with the bulk of them specializing in software development and engineering.

Aaron Everson, Spredfast Madison general manager, says leaders deliberately cultivate a fun, collaborative culture, and that attitude spills over to other areas. Employees get benefits like a catered lunch four times a week, flex time and unlimited vacation (within guidelines).

“As people spend a lot of time as an employee in that culture, it also extends to the way they treat our customers and the way they talk to prospects, and I think that makes a huge difference,” says Everson, who co-founded Shoutlet in 2010.

EatStreet built out its space in the former AT&T building on West Washington Avenue with a center stairway separating the company’s two floors. The office includes space for shuffleboard, Skee-Ball and Ping-Pong tables.

The company, co-founded out of CEO Matt Howard’s University of Wisconsin–Madison residence hall room in 2010, employs 105 full-time and 25 part-time staff members. It’s also dog-friendly.

Kaitlyn Skalet, a supervisor in EatStreet’s customer support division, brings her French bulldog puppy, Dinky, to the office once a week. She says there are no barriers keeping employees from being successful. “I love that the best ideas are always heard and always valued, no matter where they come from,” she says.

Two things that Spredfast Madison’s Everson and EatStreet’s Howard agree on are the quality of living that Madison offers and access to talent from UW–Madison.

Howard says the company has never had trouble filling roles with talented people. “Madison sells itself,” he says.

Fun Facts

Spredfast offers cold-brewed coffee and a self-serve cereal bar—with brands selected by employees—in its Madison office. The conference rooms are named after New Glarus Brewing Company beers. Everson, Spredfast general manager and co-founder, is a New Glarus native.

For beer Fridays, EatStreet executives provide beer and have workers pick a weekly theme, such as Harry Potter Friday or minature golf Friday. There is no dress code for EatStreet employees, who can wear shorts and flip-flops to the office.