What I’ve learned working at a startup

Within my previous employer, I worked at a startup company, where we created our own hardware, the software that addressed that hardware and a cloud environment. Before that, I once also worked at a startup, where the product contained a video conference application. Taking those experiences into account, I want to look back what I’ve worked during working within a startup.

It takes time to get the product ready to ship

To begin with, real product development is hard. It costs a lot of money before it’s ready to ship to customers. Within this time, the company can’t make any money even though costs pile up. Existing companies do at least have the capital to build new products. Even though both can acquire talented people, existing companies do have the money to acquire people that do have experience.

You will most of the times see this within startups, that due to the lack of money, the average working years of the people working at the company is rather low. Even though this doesn’t need to be an issue, it is not the place if you just left university and want to learn from others. Also due to the low level of experience, it’s quite hard to bring up the company to a higher level.

Not only the product has to be developed

With everything within the company, you have to start from scratch. Most of the times, there is nothing to start; only a description of the problem and your computer. There aren’t any processes describing how to handle a bug. Also there aren’t any code guidelines or things aligned how to perform code reviews.

Having the burden of complex bureaucratic processes can also slow down the productivity, however if all the basics are already there like a steady testing environment, it can be a great benefit for the project.

Room for thinking out of the box

Due to the lack of initial rules and processes, this can also have a benefit. Decisions can be made faster in a start-up and there can be room for unconventional ideas, due to the fact more experienced people aren’t biased.

Speed is more important then quality

Since both resources in terms of money are short, and the company wants to ship the product as soon as possible to gain money, most of the times speed is more important then the quality of the software. There isn’t much money to hire an additional tester, so the development team also has to do test the software they written themselves.

Wages are rather low

Startups don’t have a lot of money to spend. So they don’t have the opertunity to give nice wages to attract people with experience or high potentials.

Having an idea for a company is different then leading it

People who created the business aren’t by default the persons to run a company. They had the idea, but leading a company is different then trying to bring your ideas to life. Note that also Steve Jobs had a mentor when he created Apple. In the end it is important that even a start-up has a person that leads the company towards a common goal.


A start-up also relies to attract investors to gain money that is needed to develop the product. Investors can decide to quit or to sell the company to a bigger company.

There is not one job description

There isn’t a real structure yet in most of the start-up companies, the same is when it comes down to roles of people. Most of the times, you will have not one defined role but have to do whatever it takes to get the product to the market. This can also give you the opportunity to get experience with different kind of roles.

Not all people will fit a start-up

Having the pros and cons above in the back of your mind, you can already imagine that not all will fit working at a start-up. You can learn a lot if you like to experience with a lot of different kind of roles. It can also be frustrating when things go wrong or slow down, due to the overall level of experience. In the end it you won’t be sure if the product will ever hit the market.

Posted in Uncategorized by Bruno at December 27th, 2021.

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