The chart above is really a testament and main driver for why I work at a start-up. In my case, I’ve been at start-ups that weren’t the 2-3 people in garages, but ones that have started to take shape and are growing. People choose to go to a start-up vs a large company for many reasons. I choose to stick with them because later on in my college career, I decided to never be another “cog in the wheel” at a large company. Luckily for me, my step-father had helped me land internships early on in my life which got me addicted to the start-up culture. I got my first taste when I was 16 and into computer games… I worked as an intern for MPlayer, helping QA for games like Command and Conquer, Quake and Tiger Woods Golf for the PC.
My next foray was at Dealix as an intern and eventually an employee after I graduated from college. Again, I was interning while the company was ~10 people and eventually returned when the company was over 50. This was my first taste into an acquisition where Dealix was acquired by Cobalt, which then eventually was acquired by ADP Dealer Services. This was also my first look into the good and bad nature of Silicon Valley. In a space and time where there is a great expansion and consolidation of companies, products, and talent, there is bound to be abundance and waste. This is where I learned that one of the greatest skills someone can bring with them to the valley is adaptability and even more so the speed at which that person can adapt.
Below are a few of the reasons I love working at a start-up (whether it’s 10 people or 150 people)
Team – it’s all about the team.
- A team is usually a mix of highly inspired and highly successful people who have a knack of spotting and acquiring talent
- Advisors – even if the founders of the company are college drop-outs, there are so many resources available in the valley that the right idea can generate the right people to focus on it
- Networking – a sexy product will attract a strong team. While that could equally take your employees away, there’s a great chance that by the end of it all, you’ll have friends at places where you’ll want to be and vice-versa
- Your career is a long journey so fill your address-book with those who have influenced you
Learning – standing still is moving backwards.
- Wearing more than 1 hat – yup I said it. This is one of the most common things you’ll hear… and its absolutely true. Part of being a lean, fast and “get shit done” team is to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. I’m no programmer, but if I have to learn some front end development code to get it done, I’ll do it
- Self-starter mentality – those who are eager to learn, to grow and to have an impact on the organization will definitely get that
- Don’t settle in what you know, strive to answer questions you never thought you could even scratch the surface of
Leadership – who’s driving the ship?
- I’ve been fortunate enough to have the responsibility of leading and growing a team… and I can say for me, it’s an amazing experience
- Inexperience vs experience – its a big pot of it. Go in with an open mind and try to take the best from all levels to increase your skills and effectiveness
- I mean c’mon, look at my profile on Inflection and tell me we can’t have a little fun while getting down to business?
Compensation – it’s not all about the Benjamin’s baby.
- Perks – I’ll leave the photos below for your viewing pleasure, but we’re damn spoiled in the valley.
- Pay – see above and below bullet points. A lot of this cannot be measure in pure dollars, but in the amount of fun you have at work and building relationships with like-minded individuals. I can say, it does get pretty competitive when you get good at what you do, but shouldn’t be the only factor when looking at a start-up.
- Stock Options/Grants – I cannot stress how important it is to fight for this. Assuming you’re at an early stage and you truly believe in the product/company… This is your biggest point of leverage in terms of monetary upside. Yeah, you might not be at the next Google, but hey, it’s worth betting on a multiple x return than a 15-20% raise
SF Segway tour
Another day in the office
Napa wine tasting
Who doesn’t like a good party?