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Working for a startup (or how I am about to turn my life upside down) - Page 2

post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by DNW View Post
That said, if you don't do it, you'll always ask yourself "what if?" in the future. Working for a startup is way more rewarding than 99% of the typical corporate career crap.
This would be a big thing for me. Example: Big Company Boss gives you $1m to increase sales by 5% in an advertising campaign. You achieve 4% and get yelled at. Start Up Boss gives you $20,000 to increase sales by 50%. You acheive 200% (because they only made 15 sales per month) and you feel very smug.
post #17 of 51
wow, this isn't a simple thing.

first off - my gut says "take it". 24 with no family and no debt, being in india working for a start up that works in india and china will be good on your CV. you will learn a shitload.


ok, here is the meat, though

cons

they will try to cheat you. start up plus indian, boy, they are already thinking about how to cheat you. you need to protect yourself.

mumbai is expensive, and you are a young indian. without money, you are shit. you don't want to be living like a 24 year old indian from the indian corporate world, they live like shit, they live like a cropholder in 1950's georgia.

while being indian is an advantage in some ways, being a 24 yo indian, you fit into the sytem, and you fit into the bottom of the system. if you were white, or even a black american, or an asian, you are sort of able to push your way to the top of the system. this will be a fight for you. you have to think of how you plan to address it. you will be treated as being very low in status unless you think of a good strategy.

start ups are tough, hard work, low money, and what people forget is that managers in start ups are usually not very good - a guy who invents something doesn't nessasarily know how to manage a company, sell, or handle finance. but he wants to run the company. so you will probrably have bosses who don't know what they are doing, this is not easy to live with, and it means that the company could be sunk any day because of a catostrophic mistake completly outside your control.

if you are in india and the company sinks, who gets you home? how are your expenses, back salary etc, covered?



pros

a lot of responsibility, you learn as you go, you learn a lot of stuff outside your range of knowledge

india is the best business school in the world, if you can sell to indians, you can be successful anywhere

less formal heirarchy in a start up

being the guy on the ground in a country is fun and very good for career development

india is the place to be now - it is a growing economy and an important one. you can leverage that to work elsewhere, or you can make your career being an "india expert" for corporations.




I have experience both in india and in working for start ups. if you have specific questions pm me
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post
wow, this isn't a simple thing.

first off - my gut says "take it". 24 with no family and no debt, being in india working for a start up that works in india and china will be good on your CV. you will learn a shitload.


ok, here is the meat, though

cons

they will try to cheat you. start up plus indian, boy, they are already thinking about how to cheat you. you need to protect yourself.

mumbai is expensive, and you are a young indian. without money, you are shit. you don't want to be living like a 24 year old indian from the indian corporate world, they live like shit, they live like a cropholder in 1950's georgia.

while being indian is an advantage in some ways, being a 24 yo indian, you fit into the sytem, and you fit into the bottom of the system. if you were white, or even a black american, or an asian, you are sort of able to push your way to the top of the system. this will be a fight for you. you have to think of how you plan to address it. you will be treated as being very low in status unless you think of a good strategy.

start ups are tough, hard work, low money, and what people forget is that managers in start ups are usually not very good - a guy who invents something doesn't nessasarily know how to manage a company, sell, or handle finance. but he wants to run the company. so you will probrably have bosses who don't know what they are doing, this is not easy to live with, and it means that the company could be sunk any day because of a catostrophic mistake completly outside your control.

if you are in india and the company sinks, who gets you home? how are your expenses, back salary etc, covered?



pros

a lot of responsibility, you learn as you go, you learn a lot of stuff outside your range of knowledge

india is the best business school in the world, if you can sell to indians, you can be successful anywhere

less formal heirarchy in a start up

being the guy on the ground in a country is fun and very good for career development

india is the place to be now - it is a growing economy and an important one. you can leverage that to work elsewhere, or you can make your career being an "india expert" for corporations.




I have experience both in india and in working for start ups. if you have specific questions pm me

Being that I am Indian and 23 and have also lived in India, I agree with this ^^^^.
post #19 of 51
Fast forward to your job interview process if this doesnt work, Does anyone form the corporate world care? Do they give you extra credit points for having seen and done everything? Do they see you as a liability because they think you'll up and leave for the next start-up that piques your interest?

Just some thoughts, I'm not one to rain on your parade, but its certainly worth considering the negatives.
post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkinnyGoomba View Post
Fast forward to your job interview process if this doesnt work, Does anyone form the corporate world care? Do they give you extra credit points for having seen and done everything? Do they see you as a liability because they think you'll up and leave for the next start-up that piques your interest? Just some thoughts, I'm not one to rain on your parade, but its certainly worth considering the negatives.
From my experience, the corporate world seems to dislike those who have been entrepreneurial - and if you're entrepreneurial in the first place, you're going to dislike the corporate world
post #21 of 51
In my limited experience (1 successful startup, mostly big company work), here are some tips:

* Weigh the opportunity costs of taking this job vs. other options. This is a really complicated question to answer, and will depend on how you want your career to play out. I don't know the specifics of your field or of this venture, so I cannot give any more specific advice.
* Do any/all of the founders have any prior successful exits? If the answer is "none", that's a significant disadvantage in my book. Related: do any/all of the founders have good reputations in your field?
* What are the probable exit strategies for this venture? Be realistic. An IPO is normally unrealistic. Being bought is normally the other option, but then the question becomes who would buy you, what are the chances (e.g. competition, barrier to entry, etc.) and for how much? You'll want real-life examples of past acquisitions rather than speculation and "educated" guesses.
* If one of the founders wasn't your buddy, would you view this venture the same way? You should.
* Being employee #2 (not counting the founders) should translate to some significant equity that should start vesting on day 1. I would not accept anything less no matter what. As an example, I kept my big-company salary (not usually the case though) and got significant equity that started vesting on day 1 (this is always the case), and I was nowhere near employee #2.
* I normally do not like to mix friends with business. My attempts in the past at doing so have been net negative. YMMV.
* Understand the equity structure. Are there VCs involved (sounds like just an angel for now, but you also have to ask if there may be VCs in the future)? What's the vesting schedule? As an early employee, can you get an antidilution clause? etc.
* Understand the funding. How much money do they have? How much do they burn through every month, and how is this rate projected to change? Note that you may not get straight answers to these questions.
* Understand the business. e.g. when you say that there is high demand, where are you getting that information from? If the answer is "your buddy", I would be apprehensive.
* Understand that the work will most likely not be glamorous, and you will probably be pushed much harder than your current job. This is probably the reason why other posters are saying that you should at least get some equity here, if the pay is not market-level.

My gut feeling is to decline the opportunity given what I have heard so far, but I am not in your field, and I am significantly older and more set in my ways and life. As a young buck, if you are going to do something like this, you might as well do it now. So my gut feeling means nothing.

I understand that a lot of these tips will require a lot of research, but you owe it to yourself to get the answers to at least the first two tips. After all, you would be uprooting your life to do this. Good luck!
post #22 of 51
Thread Starter 
Folks, thanks for all the feedback. I have definitely considered a few points that you guys brought up, but there are a few questions raised here that I hadn't asked myself before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post
For the amount of work you'd be putting in I would expect some equity at least. Could you persuade them to give you a 12 month probationary period, with an equity share once some specific targets have been reached? (I would want this to be contracted rather than just a word that "We'll have discussions in 6 months")

If you've been in on the project with your buddy and could really provide value to the company then there should be some kind of option. Would they let you buy into it? A $10k investment now might be mutually agreeable.

This is exactly what I will try to do. As cchen said below, I can't expect to get an equity stake right away. I think I can, however, negotiate some sort of stock option plan once I reach certain sales targets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valor View Post
I'm not too qualified to speak on this, but I don't think the start up experience will help you get into H/S/W unless it is sucessful.

This is a question I don't really have answer for, but I am hoping to gain more insight into this soon. I am thinking that even if the company is unsuccessful, the exposure I would gain and the insight I would bring to an MBA program might be taken into consideration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkinnyGoomba View Post
I dont recommend it. I'm not convinced that this company is doing anything that a larger corporation couldnt rip-off quickly. They'll also have supply chains already in place capable of supplying to this audience in short-order. If not already, then they'll have the cash to make it possible quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NARC View Post
If you're wanting monetary success, skip it. If you're wanting an interesting experience, you might as well go. If the concept falls on its face, it would probably happen within a year or so (or would be obviously headed toward that point). You're twenty four with almost no debt. There won't be a better time.

This is exactly what I am thinking: Even if the company ends up going bankrupt, the whole experience will stay with me forever and I will learn some very interesting things. The fact that I have very little debt right now is what encouraged me to consider this possibility in the first place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DNW View Post
That said, if you don't do it, you'll always ask yourself "what if?" in the future. Working for a startup is way more rewarding than 99% of the typical corporate career crap.

I am hoping I can avoid that "what if" feeling by doing my homework on this and give it a really serious thought.
post #23 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post
wow, this isn't a simple thing.

being the guy on the ground in a country is fun and very good for career development

india is the place to be now - it is a growing economy and an important one. you can leverage that to work elsewhere, or you can make your career being an "india expert" for corporations.

I have experience both in india and in working for start ups. if you have specific questions pm me

Thanks GT. I was hoping you would chime in. I will address a couple of points you raised here:

The start up right now includes 4 main players: 3 young guys (about my age) as partners, and 1 woman (one of the partner's older sister who moved from DC to work on this). Of the 3 partners, 1 of them is a really good friend from college (he is not Indian), and the other two are Indian.

I am slightly worried about survival in Mumbai, but thankfully I have a lot of family and friends who might be able to support me or help me for a bit if it comes down to it. If I ask around to the people I know, I am fairly positive I can find a place to live for free (if not free, than fairly cheap). Regardless of that, living on a meager salary in Mumbai is not going to be easy, and I am mentally preparing myself for that.

I completely agree with you that the opportunity to be out of my comfort zone and learn a multitude of different things will be a huge positive. I am still trying to figure out how I can work it in CV.

How exactly do you think I can leverage this work elsewhere and in what capacity? I was hoping that I can leverage it while applying for a b-school down the line, but I am curious how I might be able to leverage this in the corporate world.

In any case, the plan right now is that I am flying out to India in 3 weeks to meet two of the partners (the two indian guys I don't know too well). I will be there for awhile, and that is when I will meet them in person, discuss the role, and negotiate some sort of equity/stock options plan.

As mentioned before, this is not a simple decision. I realize that it is very risky, but the chance to do something completely different might not come again in my life. I have had many a sleep less nights already, but the more I think about this the better I get about it.
post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by feynmix View Post

How exactly do you think I can leverage this work elsewhere and in what capacity? I was hoping that I can leverage it while applying for a b-school down the line, but I am curious how I might be able to leverage this in the corporate world.




everybody wants to sell to india, nobody knows how to do it. if you get a reputation for being able to set up and run an indian sales organization, you will always have job offers - if I wanted to live in india I could have a good job for the rest of my life, based on my indian experience.

as, or more, importantly, if you can leverage this to get a job with a corporation as their guy in india, you should be able to get a job outside of india with the same corporation, and then leverage that onward. not 100%, but possible.

anyway, good luck.
post #25 of 51
oh, and by the way, I would say the part that is most worrying to me is the whole indian ethnicity/age thing. it will be difficult for you to get people to consider you high status, as you are ethnically indian. if you can start off with changing your name, that may be helpful - sorry if that sounds bad, but if you have an indian name and look indian, you are indian to everyone. if you have a name like Frank walker (not like mark john or one of those very charactoristic chistian indian names) it will be easier to identify that you are from someplace else with indian ethnicity.

I knew a guy who called himself "Mr. Peter" who was in exactly that situation, and I think it worked pretty well. I think he was actually trying to pretend that he was an african american.

even if you don't go to such an extreme, you have to establish from the begining that you are not to be pushed around. status is established very clearly early on, nad it is almost impossible to change after that.


good luck



anyway, good luck.
post #26 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ennui View Post
In my limited experience (1 successful startup, mostly big company work), here are some tips:

* Weigh the opportunity costs of taking this job vs. other options. This is a really complicated question to answer, and will depend on how you want your career to play out. I don't know the specifics of your field or of this venture, so I cannot give any more specific advice.

It is a very complicated question. Within finance, I am currently in risk and I'd like to get out of it if possible. There are other areas of finance I would like to look into, with PE/VC being high on the list. I am still only one job into my career, so I figure that right now is the best time to try something different. I have applying to other jobs as well and am currently going through interviews with them, but they are still fairly standard cut and dry consulting jobs.
post #27 of 51
Thread Starter 
In case anyone is interested or if helps bring another perspective, here is the company.

Its called Greenlight Planet, Inc, and here is the link

One of our main competitors is a company called D.Light, and browsing around, it looks like D.Light has received $6-7 mil in VC funding from some top notch firms (like DFJ). Our competitors haven't been able to find a successful distribution channel, and are now slowly moving out of India and into Africa.

More later...
post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by feynmix View Post
In case anyone is interested or if helps bring another perspective, here is the company.

Its called Greenlight Planet, Inc, and here is the link

One of our main competitors is a company called D.Light, and browsing around, it looks like D.Light has received $6-7 mil in VC funding from some top notch firms (like DFJ). Our competitors haven't been able to find a successful distribution channel, and are now slowly moving out of India and into Africa.

More later...
Lots of excellent points in this thread for you to consider. I have nothing to add except to wish you the best of luck in making this decision, and with your career endeavors thereafter.
post #29 of 51
Are you going to be working near the manufacturing part of this?

Do you know what an MSDS is? How about silane, gallium arsenide, or metal organics?

A lot of places that make these types of things outside the west (and the related regulatory agencies) don't give two shits as they slowly poison their workforce.
post #30 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ms244 View Post
Are you going to be working near the manufacturing part of this?

Do you know what an MSDS is? How about silane, gallium arsenide, or metal organics?

A lot of places that make these types of things outside the west (and the related regulatory agencies) don't give two shits as they slowly poison their workforce.

No, these lamps are being made in a factory in China. I will be working on sales based in Mumbai.
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