Firstly, what makes me write this? Well, I did find loads of stuff on What, Why and how an entrepreneur should do but unfortunately very few resources guiding the early stage employees. After all the reading done on starting up, I learn that team is more important than an idea and still couldn’t find enough guides to help an early stage employee. This may not become the bible for all those looking to join a startup but atleast should give a fair idea of how working for a startup is.
The Journey Begins
After a lot of suggestions from the so-called well-wishers, I still went against all of them and joined a start-up as an early stage employee. Well, a lot of people considered me insane for joining a startup that too after that B.Tech, MBA tag (ROLF don’t even know why I did them). Being a guy in his mid-20’s from a tier-II city in Andhra made things even worse for me as it is considered to be the right time for marriage and lots of strangers started advising me not to take a risk now (ROFL again coz I already have a girl friend J)
All said and done, I packed my bags to Bangalore. I wasn’t surprised at all to see a small room with couple of tables and chairs welcoming me to work. While joining a startup and that too if in an early stage be assured that you wouldn’t be finding air-conditioned spacious cubicles. Having said that, you can also be assured that the founders would take care to provide you most of the things to make you feel comfortable and get the best out of you. Really, where are on earth are you provided with a fridge full of beers to work better?
So, after couple of months into this startup, I see myself as a part of my startup now, its not just another company which pays me, its kinda my company now. I network on twitter whenever I get a chance to promote my startup and no one ever has told me to do that. You automatically are tuned or get tuned to do things which no one would ever told you to. That’s the beauty of working in a startup. You can get that sense of ownership over few things. You are allowed to experiment and learn. You will be informed of the new decisions and also are made part of the decision-making sessions. And more importantly you are considered important.
We (meaning the employee and the founder) also argue over an enhancement or a design change. But finally at the end of the debate/argument we would be happy to agree upon the solution which we feel is the best for our startup.
I very well remember two particular days, sitting in a bus and kinda smiling and feeling proud. On the first instance, I was so happy coz we were appearing in the first page of results for a particular keyword which had high difficulty. We broke into the first page from almost nowhere. And the second instance, when I successfully streamlined a process which had to deal with the unorganised offline market. I seriously cannot remember when I went back home so happily after a day’s work during my whole 2 and half year IT stint. As a startup employee you are sure to experience these kinds of highs.
And let me warn that you will also have your share of lows. Yup, it is part of any and every game. You get depressed when you don’t see the kind of results you expect. The call to action now should be to indulge yourself in something which you are good at, other than your work. May be paint a picture for your office and get appreciation. Am sure you will feel better and are re-energised.
Now comes the worst part. You know what is the worst thing to happen when you are working in a startup? Go and attend a family function. For me, I couldn’t skip this as it was in my house. The first and second questions almost all the guests ask you are “How are you” and “what are you doing now”. You don’t know how much now I hate answering that second one. I at first patiently tried explaining them what is a startup and what we do, until these happened
Mr X: What are you doing now?
Me: Uncle, we are a startup and we are into online selling and buying of second hand mobiles. We also will be expanding to other categories soon.
Mr X: Ohh, so you guys deal with second hand mobiles? So you are similar to the “paata samanlu kontam” guy (you remember that guy who comes with a rickshaw and keeps shouting ‘We buy old stuff”?).
So this uncle thought I was kinda running a second hand mobile shop (dukaan).
After few similar cases, I just comfortably lied to all of them who asked me what I was doing. I said am a software engineer and in return I also got that proud-of-you-my-boy look from all these relatives.
Lesson learnt: Don’t ponder over things which are not important, they only will drain away your positive energy.
You may not be able to spend as a software engineer atleast for the first few months. You will pass by the stores which have SALE written all over them and still cannot afford to buy. But again all these won’t last long. Believe me, just see the bigger picture and pick yourself up. There are better things in store for you. And more than anything while working in the startup, you develop few relationships which will last long, you indulge in few conversations which have a lasting impact on your thinking. And you know what? Facebook too suggests me to add the co-founders of my startup to my close friends list J.
Last but not the least, I wish to thank Mr A.S and Mr S.B for ___(I too dunno) but these people have helped me in unknown ways!
[About the author: Srikanth of PriceShred.com – An online marketplace to buy or sell second hand mobiles in India. Wanna share your startup experience with entrepreneurs? Do connect with us: team@NextBigWhat.com]