Lessons And Advice From Starting Up Young — A Year With Flixstreet
A year back I was enjoying my summers before starting off on the last stretch of my IIT experience. This is when I got a knock on my door to come on-board on a startup idea on Indian movies! It was June 22, 2012.
It has been a year I have been working on our pet project as a co-founder which we named it as Flixstreet (www.flixstreet.in). The journey so far has been transformational with a increasing learning curve. Everyday you get to brainstorm on new ideas, try it out, reiterate and implement them. Building a startup from the stratch to its launch is a heavenly experience. Working at a startup is invaluable, there’s a drive, a passion, a work ethic, and a tenacity that you develop hustling to go from the bottom of the ladder to being big. Throughout it all, I’ve been learning a lot of things that have benefited me greatly, sharing with you are some of them which makes working at a startup an enjoyable experience.
1. Learn to make decisions that have real world implications.
The beauty of working in a startup is your work, your decisions are valued and has real life impact. For example, you are going to run campaign for increasing the users on your website, you decide the entire flow of the campaign and implement it. Based on the feedback and responses generated from the campaign, you learn, make changes to the existing product/service and head forward.
2. Space for your creative instinct
Startups tend to be collaborative, rather than top-down organisations, so you are unlikely to have a boss in the traditional sense of the word. This will give you more freedom to be creative and explore your own ideas. But, it also means working on your own initiative, motivating yourself and quite often logging pretty long working hours — which you often end up enjoying.
3. Bureaucracy is kept at bay
Startups tend to be spontaneous and ideas are acted on quickly as there is no need to seek approval from various departments. That makes it a very fast-paced environment where you have to think on your feet and react quickly to events — fantastic skills for the future.
4. Wear multiple hats
Resources are limited in a startup. The members of a startup are often left to deal with multiple things that aren’t their job. For example, although I am primarily a product designer, I also help in social media management, marketing ideas and business pitching. The beauty of this is that by spreading yourself thin, you get to learn bits and pieces of everything and these fields hold a horizontal relationship. While I am no expert at any of these fields, I am sufficient enough to use them in a corporate setting because of my experience using them in a startup. In a startup, you basically become a one man army, which is invaluable for someone my age. While being the jack of all trades, master of none is frowned upon as you get older, for an 22 year old like myself it’s quite possibly the best thing that could’ve ever happened.
5. You grow with the company
It’s no secret that workers at a startup work for abysmal wages and hope to make it big one day and receive the fruit of their tedious labor. When you work at a company, you inherit the company culture and dynamic. You become part of a machine that’s been functioning and built for a while. When you work at a startup, you define the culture and dynamic. Everything is in your hands, from the coffee your company buys to what time everyone comes to work. There are no rules to follow, you make the rules. This kind of freedom and responsibility isn’t for everyone — it’s for the strong willed and business oriented. That’s why most people don’t make good startup founders, because they think they do. The best startup founders are the ones that know how to get things done, not how they want things to get done.
6. Love what you do
Working in a startup environment is fun. You will be allotted what you love to do and doing what you love makes the journey even more enjoyable. For movie buffs like us, we love what we work in Flixstreet. There are a lot of new things coming up soon so stay excited about the new updates! ☺
A suggestion for students at IIT Kharagpur:
If you have a knack for entrepreneurship, or learning something new and interesting, get in touch with alumni and work in startups for sometime. It will hone your technical and time management skills, increase your professional network and will give you new opportunities to explore. 4/5 years at IIT is a big time and try to make the best use of this. Working at a startup is for someone who wants to carve their own path in life and work for what they want. If you enjoy hard work and seeing results, then a startup is absolutely for you. If you have an idea of your own, form a small group of like minded people and kickstart it as soon as you can and get guidance from seniors in the field of entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship Cell (www.ecell-iitkgp.org) and Professors from the incubation center — Science and Technology Entrepreneurs’ Park (STEP), IIT Kharagpur (www.step-iit.org). Honestly, IIT Kharagpur is the best place to take the risk, create something of your own and have a great learning experience. I love a quote of John Valentine, Vice President of Sales at LevelUp, a Google Ventures Company, which says-”Startup is not a job, and it’s not a school; a startup is a lifestyle.” Many people choose to get a job to afford the life they want. Workers at a startup choose to follow their vision to create the life they want.