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Not all startups are created equal

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So you want to join a startup. You’re excited about the growth opportunities, the chance to work on something high impact, and the fast-moving culture. But not all startups are created equal. Joining a great startup can be an inflection point in accelerating your career. Joining a bad startup can lead to burnout, frustration, and disenchantment. With so much on the line, how do you pick the right one?

I’ve experienced a spectrum of startups — from a 3-person startup that I co-founded to a mid-stage 30-person startup. In my latest job hunt, I reflected on my own experiences as well as the experiences of friends in the space. I consulted many people wiser than me. Through this process, I came to the conclusion that there are are 3 important questions to ask when evaluating a startup: Would I invest in the company? …


Why I took so long to start doing what I loved.

For years, the prospect of programming for a living frightened me. While some people stay away from the field due to insecurities about their abilities, that wasn’t the case for me. I had studied Computer Science in school, and graduated with the highest GPA in my class. Understanding algorithms came naturally to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed solving tough technical problems and frequently lost track of time when coding. I knew that I had the raw ingredients of a good programmer in me, but I thought that I wasn’t the “programmer type”. …


And why I’m glad it did

Failure is a polarizing word. In my experience, most people either view it as taboo or over-celebrate it as a rite of passage. My startup failed. It was miserable. I didn’t think that I was closer to success having failed. I thought about all the things we could have done differently, all the humiliation with treading the risky non-traditional route and having it not work out. But it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, I’m proud of how we failed.

How you failed? What does that even mean?? I mean that we admitted failure at the right time — fast enough that we didn’t waste additional money and time, slow enough that emotions did not cloud our judgement, and we kept customers as our focal point during the whole journey. …

About

Lauren Long

Coder, product person, entrepreneur.

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