Knowledge Sharing is Critical for Scaling Startups

At a glance


Cocoon has always had a culture of writing because it operates in a complex industry with many laws, regulations, and insurance carriers. As the company grew, it found that discussion-based tools left knowledge buried in threads and hard to find, while others focused too much on formatting. Cocoon needed a simple, searchable solution to scale knowledge, empower employees, and reduce repeat questions to leaders.


Using Slab, Cocoon empowers its employees to embrace the company’s writing culture by providing one central, simple place for documentation. Every team, from product to compliance, uses Slab to document their work and processes, as well as to connect with each other. By helping people self-serve information and reducing the need to answer repeated questions or reinvent the wheel for tried and true processes, Slab helps the whole organization scale more effectively.

Key Points

  • Cocoon has always known that writing things down is key to scaling; Slab is where they do that writing
  • In a complex industry like leave management, having one place to document information and direct people to is invaluable for onboarding and ongoing education
  • Slab helps the team share knowledge and self-serve information, which leads to more equipped employees, thoughtful products, and a better customer experience

“Going on medical or parental leave should be simple—nobody should ever be wheeled in for an emergency C-section while trying to read a spreadsheet to understand their health benefits,” explains Kristen Fang, a Product Manager at Cocoon.

Cocoon is a leave management platform used by companies like Carta, Benchling, and Miro. It simplifies the complexities of compliance, claims, and payroll for a seamless, empathetic employee leave experience—which is currently perceived as ten times worse than filing taxes, according to its research. “Our goal is to ensure that employees get the time off and the maximum amount of benefits they are entitled to,” Kristen says.

While leave management has always been a complicated industry, the pandemic and remote work made it even more so. Companies went from having employees in one city to supporting teams spread across various states, often without expertise or knowledge of those states’ laws, regulations, and insurance programs. That’s where Cocoon shines, with its codified version of regulations and insurance programs, which allows employees to plan their leave easily, no matter where they’re based.

A writing culture in need of better infrastructure

Kristen joined Cocoon when the company was just ten employees and has seen it grow 7x. One thing that has remained constant throughout its growth is the company’s writing-heavy culture: “We believe writing everything down is the best way to scale and share knowledge,” Kristen says. “Slab has been critical in ensuring that we document information that’s accurate and always accessible.”

As a leader, Kristen knows the importance of knowledge sharing very well. “There are two ways I can communicate knowledge to others: by answering the same question repeatedly, or by creating a document where that knowledge lives which be shared easily,” she says.

But oftentimes, Kristen and her team would default to writing things down in Slack, which led to information being buried in threads and made it difficult to search for and find information. And when they did use tools like Google Docs, they spent so much time formatting text instead of just writing it.

To document important information in a place that was searchable, accessible, and scalable, Kristen and the team turned to Slab. “Now, whenever we make a key decision, we write it down in Slab,” she says. “If we discussed it in Slack, we will link to the conversation, but anything we don’t want to get lost goes right into Slab.”

Using Slab cross-functionally to share knowledge and scale

Cocoon uses Slab to document all important information, which helps them scale their organization, extend leadership, and make an otherwise complex industry easy to digest for employees.

Cocoon relies on Slab to share its employee benefits—so every employee knows how they’re supported at work. They also have “Working with me” documents, or individual employees’ personal pages that help folks get to know each other. And the Operations team documents its many processes in Slab, so they always know which protocols to follow.

“Anytime a new piece of knowledge is created—from information about the product to a process to follow—the first step is to document it in Slab,” Kristen explains. “That way, the next person who needs that information can find it.”

“Anytime a new piece of knowledge is created—from information about the product to a process to follow—the first step is to document it in Slab. That way, the next person who needs that information can find it.”
Kristen Fang
Product Manager

Kristen and her team use Slab to house their product briefs, and the Product team relies on several Slab features to collaborate with other teams and make consuming content easy. For every new project, they use a post template to kick things off. “Slab’s templates minimize the work I do to reinvent the wheel,” Kristen says. They also use Slab’s Height integration to manage engineering tickets and builds by embedding a Height ticket or link into their documentation in Slab. When a ticket is completed, the line item in Slab is struck through.

“Using Slab and Height together makes it easy for me, as a PM, to know whether something is complete or not.”
Kristen Fang
Product Manager

Kristen uses the hint feature to call attention to key points in Slab, such as the directly responsible individual (DRI), stakeholders, status, and timeline. She also uses headers and sections to organize different materials in ways that suit the specific type of content or audience. “With Slab, it’s easy to organize my thoughts, and I don’t have to put in any effort to make the document look clean and easy to read,” she says. “It’s more fun for me to work out of and easier for other folks to read and digest than other tools.”

Staying ahead of the learning curve in a complex industry

Cocoon employees must have empathy for their customers, but the learning curve of context to understand their industry is a steep one. Using Slab, the team can scale with documentation that explains the many different laws that govern leave, as well as sources of pay and insurance processes. “The faster someone can get up to speed and understand the nuances of leave management, the better equipped they are to do their job at Cocoon,” says Kristen. “I’m really thankful that we have a written culture and Slab—together, they help us scale knowledge as we grow and provide employees with a deep understanding of our complex industry,” she adds.

Such industry knowledge helps teams like customer support provide better, more timely service because they understand the necessary context. And for teams like product and engineering, it provides a deeper understanding of the complex user experience, which is considered at every turn of building the product.

Using Slab to share critical information about what Cocoon does has also helped Kristen scale herself. With a lasting, accessible record of work and processes, knowledge is more scalable and Kristen spends less time answering the same questions repeatedly. When she gets a question she’s received before, she simply shares a link to Slab instead of repeating herself. ”Slab allows me to give people far more context than I could offer them in a quick conversation or Slack response, which better equips them to do their jobs and saves me time bringing them up to speed,” she says. And, over time, answering questions by linking to Slab documents has helped Cocoon create a self-serve culture.

The single source of truth that Slab provides helps Cocoon connect tools, save time answering questions, and get people up to speed by organizing many different types of knowledge. And this variety of knowledge helps employees learn their way, at their own pace. When folks document information in Slab, they include transcripts or write-ups, links to videos, and presentation notes, giving anyone looking at the Slab page the option of reading or watching a video—whichever will help them absorb the information best.

Growing and evolving documentation alongside the business

Through their writing culture, Cocoon has learned a key lesson: knowledge isn’t static. As a growing, evolving business, documenting information once is never enough—it’s always changing, just like the business. For that, Cocoon relies on constantly updating information in Slab. If Kristen directs someone to a Slab document for an answer and they still have follow-up questions, she knows something is missing or the page is outdated. “I then update the document to close the knowledge gap and make sure it’s the most accurate source of information,” she says. Slab has also contributed to Cocoon’s writing culture by making it simple to create documents and easy to access them.

“By documenting knowledge in Slab, we empower our team members to be more autonomous. Our teams have the context they need to understand company priorities, make better decisions, and serve our customers better.”
Mahima Chawla
CEO & Co-Founder

“Slab has been critical to enabling others to get up to speed by not just giving them an answer but directing them to the place where they can find context, answers, and other information,” Kristen says. “By encouraging our writing culture, Slab helps our entire company get to answers more quickly, which empowers us to focus on our customers taking their stress-free leave even faster.”