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Anyone works/worked for a start-up firm?

wj4

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Hi all,

One company that I'm interested in is a start-up company. I've only been employed by two employers, both of which are global organizations. This start-up only has 10 employees and plans to grow to 20 by the end of the year. I had an interview with the CEO and from the job description, it's something I would really like to do.

I just want some opinions from those who works/worked at a start up firm about the good, bad, and the ugly.

Thanks in advance!
 

Kai

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I left a big law firm job to join a start up.

It was the best (employment related) decision of my life.

First the bad:

It started out very uncertain. I went from a nice office in a NYC sky scraper to a space in a refrigerated warehouse. My desk was made from cinder blocks with a door laid over them. My office chair was some 1970's vintage metal thing.

We never knew from one month to the next if we were going to make payroll or maybe have to shut down altogether. Hours worked were long, and there was a lot of stress.

Now the good:

Working there was like working with family. We all knew and trusted each other, and liked each other. We had no bureaucratic bullshit. We just did what we had to do to get the job done. We believed in what we were doing, and everyone was invested, both personally and financially in the company. All of the ground floor people had significant equity stakes.

The things I did mattered, a lot. Sometimes, the things I was working on were the literal difference between the company's demise or success. This is real job satisfaction.

We built the company into an enterprise worth several hundred million dollars. I made a bunch of money on my equity. Even if I hadn't, the experience was still a great one.

I work for a big company now. It's stable, and a very good company, and I like my job, but I do miss the camaraderie and excitement of my days at the start up.

If you like the people, and have faith in the business, I'd suggest you go for it, especially if you get a good equity package as part of your compensation.
 

idfnl

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I avoid startups. The fail rate is too high. Good potential upside with the right deal but you often sacrifice a starting salary.

But, the right idea/model could sway me but it would have to be really special.
 

VinnyMac

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I avoid startups. The fail rate is too high. Good potential upside with the right deal but you often sacrifice a starting salary.

But, the right idea/model could sway me but it would have to be really special.
+1 to this. The risk of not being paid and winding up in the unemployment line is too high.

On another note, in a start up, you can get involved with a variety of different functional areas because the staff is usually small. You can learn more about what types of issues confront a business and what decisions need to be made when running one. Also, you can potentially get promoted into a position with a great title fairly quickly (which will look good on your resume IF you actually accomplished something). I met someone who told me about how she'd been promoted to marketing manager almost immediately after finishing undergrad. simply because she was a business major.
 
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iamacyborg

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+1 to this. The risk of not being paid and winding up in the unemployment line is too high.

On another note, in a start up, you can get involved with a variety of different functional areas because the staff is usually small. You can learn more about what types of issues confront a business and what decisions need to be made when running one. Also, you can potentially get promoted into a position with a great title fairly quickly (which will look good on your resume IF you actually accomplished something). I met someone who told me about how she'd been promoted to marketing manager almost immediately after finishing undergrad. simply because she was a business major.
That's kind of my situation. Graduated just under two years ago with an art degree, joined a company that's well funded but still functions like a startup a few months ago and I'm now the head of email marketing there, with people soon to be employed to work directly under me. I get to work with international brands and it looks greats on my CV.
 
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suited

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It will likely be one of the best experiences you'll have at a 'regular' job, and you'll make some longtime friends in the process.
 

wj4

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Thanks for the replies, gents. The firm is made up of older doctors who plan on having healthcare programs code for insurance providers. It's a unique niche I think.
 

globetrotter

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I've been with several. 2 failed, 2 did ok, 2 just sort of did meh. I never got a big payoff from any. most were fun to work for and challenging, and I learned a lot. most were very stressful. having a company fail under you in horrible, espectially if you have a family and responsibilities.

the CEOs are usually idiots, or at least know nothing of management. if the CEO is a doctor, I wouldn't join, doctors think that they know how to do everything, and I can fucking guarantee you he doesn't know how to run a business. so that will end up being frustrating and painful to you. if the CEO is a pro that was brought in to run the business, that could work. if you don't have responsibilities (kids) then it is certainly worth a try.
 

wj4

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I've been with several. 2 failed, 2 did ok, 2 just sort of did meh. I never got a big payoff from any. most were fun to work for and challenging, and I learned a lot. most were very stressful. having a company fail under you in horrible, espectially if you have a family and responsibilities.

the CEOs are usually idiots, or at least know nothing of management. if the CEO is a doctor, I wouldn't join, doctors think that they know how to do everything, and I can fucking guarantee you he doesn't know how to run a business. so that will end up being frustrating and painful to you. if the CEO is a pro that was brought in to run the business, that could work. if you don't have responsibilities (kids) then it is certainly worth a try.
Thanks, globe. Always appreciate your insight. I'm only 27 with no family so I guess I can be riskier than others. The doctor who interviewed me was nice albeit dry. The ones that failed...did they just tell you they were shutting the door and to look for a new job?
 

willny

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I've worked for a few startups in NYC where a lot of venture funded starts up are (not as much as CA). I've also interviewed with a few, I highly suggest working for one at least once in your life. One of the signs you're working for a good start up is one being backed by a venture capital firm and one that has good management and a good mission statement.

Some startups just fail and this is mainly due to lack of vision and proper management.
 

idfnl

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the CEOs are usually idiots, or at least know nothing of management. if the CEO is a doctor, I wouldn't join, doctors think that they know how to do everything, and I can fucking guarantee you he doesn't know how to run a business

This. Just because someone is educated and professional in one area doesn't necessarily make them adept at running the business.

I think professors are even worse in this respect.


Thanks, globe. Always appreciate your insight. I'm only 27 with no family so I guess I can be riskier than others. The doctor who interviewed me was nice albeit dry. The ones that failed...did they just tell you they were shutting the door and to look for a new job?

I think 27 is borderline, I know it sounds young but this is a critical age for career development. I received three key promotions in a four year period in that age range. On the other hand you don't have people counting on you. For me, I'd stay away.

One of the signs you're working for a good start up is one being backed by a venture capital firm

Having worked through the Internet bubble, I can tell you this is patently false.

A start up where the owners money is on the line is the best start up. Thats invested, because everything you have is on the line. When it's someone else's money, hey let's get a bigger table for the conference room.

For me, another key signal is when the environment appears very, very frugal. You walk into a start up that's lavish, run.
 

wj4

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^I know 27 is not exactly young. I was bummed out in November thinking that it is pretty much 30! Haha. I've never stayed at a company more than 2 years because I always jump ship for a higher pay. That's how I progress my career. I've only got a couple percent raises annually at the same company, but when going to a new job, it's at least a 20% bump in pay.

I appreciate all opinions here, gents :)

Ps I know about the being educated part. I work with MDs and Ph Ds all day and they are horrible at leading and motivating employees :p
 
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EMY

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For all of you who have worked at a start up, would you recommend a new college grad to work at a start up vs large company? I have several interviews coming up (2 in a field i dont really like, but happens to be my major, and 1 in a field I like, but don't really have any experience in) and the company I'm most interested in is a start up. If given an offer, I would like to work for the start up since it would "get my foot in the door" and show that I'm serious about departing from what I studied in school. I have no idea what the market is for the company since it's treading on new areas, but it is backed a very prestigious organization.
 

VinnyMac

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For all of you who have worked at a start up, would you recommend a new college grad to work at a start up vs large company? I have several interviews coming up (2 in a field i dont really like, but happens to be my major, and 1 in a field I like, but don't really have any experience in) and the company I'm most interested in is a start up. If given an offer, I would like to work for the start up since it would "get my foot in the door" and show that I'm serious about departing from what I studied in school. I have no idea what the market is for the company since it's treading on new areas, but it is backed a very prestigious organization.
....sounds like you've already made up your mind.
 
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