Why Working at a Startup Rocks

Posted by Joseph Puopolo

I have worked at a number of startups and have the scars to prove it. While it can be tough at times, it is a pretty rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

1) You get to be part of really cool projects – I think one of the best parts of startups is doing cool things. Startups are always pushing the envelope, whether it is with a new idea or new disruptive way of looking at the world. So many large companies are looking for ways to slow progress, ideas or different ways of solving problems, for obvious reasons. Startups on the other hand thrive on novelty and innovation. People really are passionate about the ”idea”. In a good startup, no one mails it in. Everyone cares about taking things to the next level and making the idea work. Sometimes it can be daunting, but working on something cool makes it all worthwhile.

2) You are excited about being the Chief Cook and bottle washer – In startups you rarely get bored doing the same thing. In the large companies I have worked in you could easily find yourself becoming Senior Analyst Level 2 and work there for 5 years doing the same thing. In both work and leisure time, I like variety, and that is the beauty of startups – you never have a shortage of new things to take on. There are always new projects that you can take on to push outside of your comfort zone. Getting outside of your comfort zone is the only really way to help expand your horizons! There are the downsides though – no one wants to deal with the fridge! A year’s worth of forgotten lunches can develop their own special funk.

3) You got your own style – I have to chuckle to myself when I see those people wearing suits all the time. I have a graveyard of over 10 suits sitting in my closet that only get used now for weddings, funerals and the odd meeting. There is something great about showing up at work wearing a snarky t-shirt and a pair of ripped jeans. In the summer, business casual is truly business casual. Sometimes when I see people in the financial district, I don’t think I could go back. I mean, who doesn’t love wearing a Cobra Commander t-shirt to the office?

4) Getting excited over firsts – The first registered user, your first customer, your first press mention – all of these things invigorate the team. There is such a sense of achievement (it’s like unlocking a new Foursquare badge!). Seeing something build before your eyes is fantastic. You hit a tipping point and things get easier, people start recognizing your company. You don’t need to pitch anymore – people get it. There is an expression of getting “over” with the crowd, once you have “gotten over” with the crowd it is a whole new world. In the words of Gladiator “You win the crowd and you win your freedom”

5) The Energy – People work for startups not because they are looking for a cushy place to do the same job over and over. Startups are filled with high energy people who love what they do. You need high-energy people in that type of environment because in order to hit crazy deadlines or do something that never has been done you need people who kick ass. Whether it be listening to “You’re the Best” from the Karate Kid movie or making jokes with obscure references or quotes anything helps to keep the move alive. You need to use that energy to get through crazy hours. Coffee from your local coffee bar will only get you so far.

6) Who doesn’t love whiteboards – Working the whiteboard is a staple of startup life. Crazy metaphors, whiteboard style, coming up with crazy work flows. The whiteboard is usually the forum of ideas, good and bad. It is always funny to see someone get up and draw something at the whiteboard who can’t draw. It can quickly devolve into a bad game of Pictionary, but I digress. Who doesn’t love going to a good whiteboarding session and saying the words “Let’s Pivot” or we need to keep “Iterating”.

7) Stuff you could only do in a Startup – There are crazy things that happen in startups. Weird rituals, fun games, and non-conventional work spaces. For example, at StickerYou we have a regular dodgeball game where falls fly and winner takes all. We have a few members of the team with arms like cannons, so you need to watch yourself. Always remember – dodge, dip duck dive and dodge. Could you imagine if the partners at a big 4 accounting firm broke into a vicious game of sudden death volleyball? It ain’t gonna happen! Although there would be something fun about watching people in suits erupt into a brutal volleyball game.

In summary:

  1. Startups are cool
  2. Working at Startups are cool
  3. Startup people are cool!
  4. Maybe you should work at a startup

Why do you love working at a Startup? Please leave me your comment and let me know.

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Joseph Puopolo

Joseph Puopolo

Joseph Puopolo has a BES from the University of Waterloo (‘02) and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University (‘03) For over 15 years Joseph Puopolo has been a leader within the technology industry. Joseph has a deep background in the world of marketing, social media, PR, and business development. He has lead multiple projects and initiatives at several organizations including, Oracle, PROPHIX,... more



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