Is the Startup Dream Really a Nightmare?

Jakub (Kuba) Gaj
Mar 12, 2020 · 6 min read

I heard a lot of stories from my employees about the time they worked in big corporations. They were my inspiration to write this article. Of course, it’s as sarcastic as always (or maybe even more) so please don’t get offended.

Okay, let’s jump into a character. Your name is Corpo Mike. You’re 26 years old and you’ve been working in a global corporation since graduation.

Warning: funny content ahead.

Photo by Floriane Vita on Unsplash

Corporate Bliss

Your life is sensational. Like every other day, you wake up and feel the same, familiar stomachache. Yeah, now I know I’m alive, you mumble to your munchkin cat sitting at the foot of your bed. It’s the only other creature living in your tiny apartment (well, maybe besides some cockroach you saw the other day in the bathroom, but hey, who’s got time for cleaning up when you have to work). It’s hard to get out of bed but this is how it’s supposed to be, right? The pervasive routine makes you happy — at least you think it does.

For starters, you’re 30 seconds late for work, so now you “can” stay longer and not get paid overtime to make up for such a despicable lack of respect. No one cares that you spent over an hour in a traffic jam! You’re working in the middle of downtown in an impressive skyscraper with almost non-existing parking space outside, what did you expect?

When you finally enter the building, there’s this great feeling of belonging when you swipe your ID card and the system starts recording your time spent in the office. But suddenly, you realize you really need to go to the bathroom; maybe this coffee wasn’t such a great idea after all… Just then, you’re remembering that you can go only twice a day on scheduled breaks. Basically, your body works like a clockwork so you’re screwed for now!

What’s not to love?! All the decisions are made for you, even when you’re supposed to use the toilet. But hey, you get all the benefits every employee gets, so it’s worth it. Don’t even get me started on “fruity Wednesdays” instead of a raise!

You work in an impressive, tall building on the 23rd floor. When you finally find time to go out with your college friends for a drink, you get to brag about it. It doesn’t matter that for most of the weekdays you start work when it’s dark and leave at night. You made it, you work in a glass empire!

Photo by Yutacar on Unsplash

If this isn’t enough, just imagine that there are more procedures and company policies than people employed. The deadlines, KPIs, and targets give you a reason to live… Hardly anyone knows your name, and for the HR, you’re just another row in the Excel sheet.

Is this real? Am I dreaming? You won a lottery!

Startup Nightmare

Suddenly, you find yourself in a startup (at least this is what you think this mystical place is). You see people wearing slippers and sweatpants, a dog running between the desks… Someone is even smiling at you (“Is he mad?” — you wonder). You already miss your grey cubicle where everything was much easier.

You decide to try to fit in. Maybe this nightmare will soon end and you’ll go back to your nameless, sad co-workers wearing suits.

Little Things

This weird place must really have a bad influence on you because you’ve been there for a day and already have your very own idea. Nothing groundbreaking — you’d like to have Almond milk in the kitchen (startup already turned you into a crazy vegan hipster).

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

You walk into your boss’s office. Just like that. No assistant to schedule an appointment, no calendar event with a 7-day notice. Pure madness! Those startup savages and their medieval customs…

The boss listens to your request patiently and tells you that the Almond milk will be available next week. He even praises your idea! Could you believe that?

How can you appreciate this?! You don’t even have to schedule a meeting or fill out hundreds of forms and wait for at least a month for the forms to be processed. Those startup hippies. Next time you know they’ll request vacations during summer! Or take a day off because they feel under the weather.

Coffee Break

Who would’ve thought that you can have different coffee brewing types, every coffee beverage imagined (one click away), various milk types and dozens of flavored syrups, and all this for free? Where’s the catch?

Their ways are so ineffective! It’s much easier to have just one type of instant coffee that you have to pay for and don’t have to think about the type of beverage you’d like to drink. There’s yet another decision you have to make on your own… outrageous. Your coach told you several times that less is better! This way, we’ll ruin our productivity.

If things weren’t bad enough, they also have like five types of tea… There’s white, red, black and green (who would have thought tea comes in so many colors). On top of that, there’s some strange green stuff (most likely illegal) called Yerba Mate that those startup hipsters drink through a straw, probably to get a harder kick out of it. Not to mention that they go on a coffee break WHENEVER they want, what on Earth?!

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Having An Impact

After a week you were asked to see the BOSS in his office. I’m screwed, you think instantly. When you entered, he smiled at you (“this sick bastard must enjoy firing people”). You sat down on a comfortable couch — thank heavens because you didn’t see what was coming. He started asking you questions like: Is everything okay? Do you have any feedback on how we could improve our workflow? Is there anything missing from the office?

Wait, what?! He wants you to tell him how he should run his company? This has to be some kind of a joke. Who wants to share ideas, and even be listened to; nightmare…


Your first Friday in this godforsaken place was something you didn’t expect. They called it a “pizza day”, wth? The CEO ordered dozens of pizzas, we all sat together in a kitchen, where everyone laughed and shared ideas. Furthermore, we finished work two hours early!

Photo by Brenna Huff on Unsplash

You couldn’t understand how they could relax when you had to get your work done. What if you miss the deadline because of this stupid pizza day? Working for just 6 hours? It’s like half of the standard workday. No wonder so many startups go bankrupt each day.

Suddenly, you woke up covered in sweat. Ohhhh…it was just a dream, thank God. You got up and went to the place you truly love. A place you could understand, organized and straightforward.

You can finally do your job in peace without thinking too much.


This is probably one of many stories about Mike and his nightmares about startups. I hope I got you thinking a little and you had fun while reading. I tried to outline the ridiculous stuff about both company types. Let me know if you liked it.

Thanks, Kuba.

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The Founder’s Journal

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Jakub (Kuba) Gaj

Written by

Just a normal guy. CEO, founder, blogger, and technology enthusiast.

The Founder’s Journal

What I Wish I Knew as a Founder