Hungry for Startups: A short story

Are you hungry for startups or hungry to build great products?

Piyush Arora
Feb 10, 2018 · 3 min read

I am a startup guy, always have been.

Let me share one of my recent experience with a company I was working with while in gradschool.

I got in touch with 2 founders of a company through alumni network. I met them and they were impressed by the work I’d done in the past with my previous startup. For many reasons, I’m not going to mention the name of the company and the founders.

Let’s just keep it simple.

They discussed an idea with me that had a big potential market. To help them build this, the founders offered me to cover my whole tuition fee for my Gradschool, so I don’t have to worry about graduate or research assistantship. That way I have my full attention with this startup. They already had clients lined up to buy this product from this startup.

They offered me partnership in this new startup/product idea that I’ll be helping them build by taking the whole ownership in building the product as well as hire anyone that’s required.

I was fascinated, this was going to be my next big thing/startup.

I started working with them while in Gradschool and we recruited a few developers to help me code.

Let me summarize the rest of it:

  • Project timeline was over 10 months.
  • Almost none to zero interest by the founders and they were rarely involved to help with any advice, strategy or mentorship.
  • Tuition fee never arrived.

The product was almost 80% complete. I decided to take a semester off and move to a new city where the headquarters are based of, to do a 6 months internship so I could be on a paycheck (finally). That is until they told me what the paycheck would be: $10/hr.

Wait what? I had my doubts since a few months whether this whole startup thing is a good idea but this salary is unacceptable, provided unpaid work for the past 10 months and pending tuition fee.

I discussed with my mentors, professors and parents. I decided to drop the whole thing.

I told the founders that they are better off hiring someone from McDonald’s. I’m sure they have a lot of talented and hard working people working there willing to help build the next AR/VR startup. (Not trying to offend anyone who works at McDonald’s here.)

The whole idea which sounded great an year ago sounded terrible now.

I was lured into this startup with such a ponsy scheme. I should have been careful.

The whole thing was a big learning lesson for me. I’ve been wrong with my strategy.

I’m not hungry for startups anymore.

I’m not saying that startups are terrible. I’m saying that you have to be careful. Things can go right and that’s great. But things can go way wrong and you might not be able to recover from that.

You can do great things and you can build a great products within a company, it doesn’t have to be your own startup.

Starting a company can take a toll on you.

There’s a sort of machoism associated with starting a company. But what nobody talks about is the big psychological price that every founder has to pay.

I paid a big price and it took me a while to recover from it.

Still recovering.

Not everyone who walks through the darkness makes it out.

You don’t have to be a startup guy, be a product guy and help build great products.

Don’t be hungry for startup, be hungry for building great products.

This article is a part of a short series. I am trying to get into the habit of writing more often. I used to run an online tech magazine many years back, but I have lost my touch in writing since then. Well, I am hoping this series will help me get back into the habit of writing more, get some feedback and improve.

Thanks everyone for reading. You can connect with me here:

Twitter: @iampiyusharora




Piyush Arora

Written by

Interaction Designer, Cloud+ Artificial Intelligence @ Microsoft

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