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What's It Like Working at a Startup?

badrecordlength profile image Henry 👨‍💻 ・1 min read

I've always been curious as to what it's like working at a startup. Is there a freedom associated with sometimes not having to focus on immediate profits and instead building a userbase? How much of the perceived craziness of Silicone Valley is accurate?

I'm really interested to hear all of your experiences.

Discussion

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Well, as others have stated, "it depends".

Here's some keypoints, after working in 5 different ones (and a big company):

  • You'll have more responsibilities, and the management might listen to you a bit more. Or not at all, you're just a technical after all (sarcasm).
  • It can be really crazy if they have no idea what they're doing, i.e no vision, no clearly defined audience, no market fit. If they don't understand what developing a software means, death march can be the way to go. Burnout will be the result.
  • Early on, everybody is relax, the company has a lot of money from investors, welcome Christmas parties and team events. When investors begin to ask for their money back, it's somehow less joyful.
  • Business wise, it's often a rollercoaster.
  • If the startup is still small and your colleagues are nice, you can learn a lot, business wise and technically as well.

So, in short, I think you need to know a minimum where you're putting your feet in, because it ranges from pretty good to very, very bad.

 

Unless you are at one of the rare startups that has investors flocking to give it money despite zero revenue, "immediate profits" == "building a userbase". I've worked at startups where I was the only dev and where I was one of 50. It really depends on the startup as far as craziness. I did see a lot of things that I found familiar while watching Silicon Valley, but a lot of the intensity is because they are founders. If you are a normal startup employee, you are just working for your (maybe slightly lower) salary. Unless you 10000% believe in the startup and trust the founders and also idk have a trust fund, don't work for just equity. That also is where the long hours start coming in because now your financial future is entirely tied to this one company.

 

I'm currently at a mid-size startup (around 50 employees) and I've been here since it was under 10 employees.
You end up wearing a lot of hats, some of which are almost certainly not in your job description or skillset. For example, we built our own desks (actual wood, not flatpacks), knocked down walls when expanding, set up the office equipment etc...
I've personally had some opportunities to shape the tech stack and direction of the products a little, although some places you don't get that lucky.
There are long hours, and there is definitely more pressure I find. As others have mentioned, the pay isn't great compared to established companies, and you definitely feel the strain that the founders are under as you're all in close quarters with each other (under non COVID-19 circumstances anyway).
Personally, I've found I've grown as a person more and faster than I did working at bigger companies due to wearing multiple hats and being in such a close knit environment with colleagues that all had a different skillset, and naturally you all chat and teach each other - both out of curiousity and due to necessity as you never know when someone might need a day off and you might need their skillset.
It requires a lot of trust, faith and hard work but I'd personally say the benefits to your growth balance that out, at least in my experience.

Shameless plug: amplyfi.com

 

Actually, depends for startup's strategy. There are startups who want a fast grown, then usually don't matter much with profits in beggin (viral traction). But there are startups who care with profits in beggin. Resuming, depends of the grown strategy.