The Panorama of working at a Startup
In recent years, the world has caught up with startup wave. Many startups across the globe have grown into million dollar companies paving the way for aspiring entrepreneurs. Bangalore, the IT hub of India provides the robust platform for startups, and it’s not uncommon to find startups in every corner of the city.
Having run a startup for a year am not totally new to this world. What’s unique about startup culture is, it brings the concept of delivering something big in small steps, a whole new energy to take risks, spirit to find unmatched solutions and most importantly brings fantastic ideas into reality. Though my first startup failed miserably, I support and follow startups.
After the shutdown of my startup decided to take up a job at a startup to find out flaws from my previous journey. Soon joined a startup as a developer as the product domain and work they offered excited me. I was looking forward to exploring new startup environment.
Initial few days, everything was smooth as was busy understanding the product, processes and the problem were about to solve. As a coder, I look for a developer friendly environment where the product is the epicentre. In reality, good products are not built overnight it’s a conscious decision to be made over many other influencing factors in the company.
As days passed on started sensing everything going on was not right there. People started disappearing, departments blaming each other for failures and a consistent disparity between founders and the tech team. I feel the below are some of the root causes,
1. It’s funny, but in actuality, founders did not have a roadmap for the product. If they don’t know what to do, how will they keep the team motivated?
2. Founders are busy running the show, tracking investors and importantly when from the non-technical background without a product group/product owner product goes for a toss.
3. After the initial understanding had realised, there were no processes followed at all. Having a lot of processes is bad at the same time not having any is equally painful which affects the productivity of the team.
4. Founders do not know the word “Priority”. Just the way humans can’t eat all the time, one can’t add features to the product every day without proper scrutiny.
5. Wrong people for right the job. No matter if you involve the entire company it can’t be done.
6. The least heard utterance in the company is “Planning”. Founders regularly commit for unreal deliverables with customers without any planning implanting constant pressure on every department. People often work till late night to finish their tasks but end up redoing due to lacking clarity in requirements.
7. Hardly any care is given for employee comforts and satisfaction. The only expectation of employees is salary which is delayed every month for some or the other reasons. It’s a well-funded startup not having cash in account can’t be the reason for the delay. If you don’t consider your employee’s needs why should they care for your product?
8. Sorry money can’t buy everything.
9. Everything was a mess there.
I agree, driving a startup is no joke there are plenty of challenges to be met to run it smoothly but if basic ethics of the business are forgotten, and people are not taken care properly then lasting long in the game is only a dream.
With these issues, the environment was getting too suffocating to pull off beyond and also the work assigned ended earlier than expected(Again no clarity in requirements) so happily pulled me out from there.
Though the experience was awful, there are plenty of points to take away with me for my future ventures.
1. Having the vision for the product is crucial to keep everyone aligned with the goal.
2. There has to be a dedicated product person to lead the product. He has to be the decision maker for the product.
3. With growth, processes help people in regulating themselves with the rest of the company. There is no one silver bullet what’s right is found out by trying and reiterating.
4. Don’t stuff your product with features, consider the business value of it and the time required to develop before adding one. It not only reduces the development cost also the maintenance associated with it.
5. As Steve Jobs rightly said — “Hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Hire the right people and allow them to do their best. Trust your fellow makers.
6. Planning leads to more discussions which in turn leads to the thorough analysis of the problems and solutions. It helps better requirements gathering which increases the productivity of the team.
7. People make the startup, and they have to be taken maximum care with what is available and possible. Its simple, if you love them, they love the product back.
8. People don’t join startups only for money. Respect them and their work, appreciate every small achievement to motivate them to do more. Share company progress with them keep everything as transparent as possible. Build a team!
Finally, grow a strong team, create a quality product, treat employees right to devise a long running successful business.
It’s hard to conclude anything with one startup may be this one turned out bad for me but will not stop from exploring more startups :).