How is it like working in a Startup

We all have been listening of the buzz about startups. There is sexiness and glamour associated with owning a startup – you get to be published in one or many of those tabloids covering the startup ecosystem. All of a sudden from the college dropout you become a celebrity. Everyone in the college starts recognizing you :P.

Well it may look good from outside but its amazing inside. Working in the startup is one of the best work experiences you can get in your life and if it is your first job, trust me you are not leaving this space. Startup is an amazing workplace where “You” are recognised no matter how small or a big a task you are responsible for. It is like a family. So what is really like to work in a startup (not for a startup)

1. You are responsible for the work you take up. It is very unlikely that you will be assigned some work with a timeline and you have to report every night before you leave the task in an excel sheet. It is you who is responsible for the task and in turn the progress of the company.

2. You are not there to do just one kind of work. Of all the things, work at startup is not at all repetitive or boring. You will be faced with new challenges every hour, new kind of tasks everyday and maybe new title every month. You are not supposed to posses just one skill set (even if you have one, you have to do a lot of many other tasks).

3. You will learn a lot of things everyday. You are programmer, you are kind of introvert and don’t like to talk to a lot many people, love your mac and build new things everyday. You are supposed to do all of that but in addition now you have to build teams, recruit people, inspire them, motivate them, conduct workshops, visit meetups to get more talent –  designers, coders, writers everyone. Apart from that help them all in the challenges they face while learning all this skills. You have to leave your comfort zone and get into everyones shoes.

4. You get gadgets. Well if the startup you work in, if it has raised funding or is making enough profits (which is highly unlikely) you get to have all the fancy gadgets you want. Be it 24” screens (or maybe even 27”), macbook pro retina, NVIDIA G670 powered desktop, anything. Some will even let you design & build your own workspace.

5. You get to meet insane people. I always feel this, people in startups are insane. I have never ever seen the kind of energy and enthusiasm anywhere else. They will go on working for hours and hours – discussing, debating, fighting, coding, designing with the same ultrahigh energy level. Sometimes you may experience burns from the energy. Never try to get in a role conflict with an insane startup guy, more on this later.

6. You network with people from all walks of lifeYou will meet so many people, each one of them skilled and passionate about the work he/she is doing. You get to learn a lot from them. You make contacts which lasts long (some go for lifetime). You chat, you break bread together, you learn from their experiences, share yours. Life takes up new colors everyday and you wont realise how many different things and subjects you have learned. You will develop new hobbies, interests and maybe profession.

Overall startup is a place which will color up the blank/monotonous canvas of your life with all the possible shades present in a rainbow. It can be tough to realise all these colors and sometimes even harder to accept all of them at once. You will learn, learn to adapt and evolve. If you haven’t yet worked in startup, take a chance and work in one.

Starting up? It has become too mainstream!

Catchy title! But it is in fact the truth.

I don’t condemn or criticise anyone from starting a company. It is in fact a really bold step but if you are in for doing a startup because you see glamour in it, or you see a chill life where you are the king of your life or its good to be your own boss or because everyone is doing it or any other hundreds of similar reasons you can list out. Wait! you may be in for trouble.

Startups are lucrative, if you live and breathe around group of entrepreneurs you might definitely feel, “Even I should do a startup”. I have Co-founded two startups got a great exit from one and other one is doing great. Starting up for the sake of starting a company is not a valid nor a rational reason to do a startup. There are startups coming up everyday. People get ideas, so do you – it doesn’t mean you should start a company. Startup requires a great deal of commitment, I’m not talking about 10-12 hours a day. It could mean not seeing sunlight for days, not moving out of your chair for days coding/working all the time, working for 16-18 hours a day and at the end of day concluding it wasn’t enough. This is the story of almost every founder/cofounder of a great startup. They don’t have a life seeing for the point of view of people in general. For them the more they work the more merrier they are. Here are a few things you should know before doing a startup.

1. Startup is autonomy but it means responsibility and not freedom (from boss). You are responsible for not just your life but the lives of your team and your employees. They have trusted you, its your responsibility to make money for them too.

2. Investors money is hard earned money, it is not for you to get a lavish office space and a lifestyle. Its there so that you can expand operations and scale your business. Raising funds from an Angel or VC is no proof that your business will succeed but it is now your responsibility to make money for investors too.

3. Almost 99% of startups fail. Don’t try to increase the stats, you have to take rational and responsible decisions at each and every step. Each of which has probability of 1% that you made the right choice.

4. Marginal improvements over existing solutions will not help you build great and long lasting companies. You may stall for some time, but will eventually crash or may get exit if lucky. Ecommerce and Deals industry in India are great examples, where thousands of startups emerged and falled. Few were lucky enough to get exits when the market was booming.

5. Not all startup stories are like of Instagram and doing business in an economy like that of India requires a lot more than simply idea. In economy that of India, you need to prove that your idea makes money, then consider looking for investors.

6. Developing a great technology requires great deal of effort. Don’t consider that getting a website up and running is cheap and easy. Right talent costs you loads of money –  be prepared for that.

7. Your idea maybe good, Don’t be adamant about it, learn to pivot, try to learn and make the best of the situation. Talk to potential customers, superusers – you will learn more about the problems and will develop a greater concern for the solving the problem and benefiting the consumers.

8. Seek legacy, mastery, and freedom in that order. Here is a great article on HBR about it. It goes for all situations – Job or doing a business.

Everyone out there is trying to start a business. The competition is fierce. Review your idea, seek expert advice, talk to users, entrepreneurs. Involve in the community.
Life is short, do what you love but make rational choices.