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Why work at a Tech Startup?

If you work in the world of Tech, especially as a skilled developer or programmer you may feel that you have quite a lot of choice when it comes to selecting your next role or contract.

What you choose will probably depend on a number of factors such as pay, location, opportunities to upskill, the overall package, tech stack and how interesting the work is.

If you’ve never worked for a startup it may seem like a scary proposition if you’re used to a modicum of security in a larger company. It’s certainly not for everyone and it takes a certain type of person to relish the environment.

If you’ve got a family and you’re seeking stability and structure above all else then it might not be for you.

If you’re hungry to learn the latest tech, business, life and soft skills and are quick to learn and adapt - then there’s nothing quite like a high growth startup to accelerate your career. 

Analysis has shown that 1 year at a startup can provide you with the same variety, intensity and challenge as 7 years at an enterprise or larger company

When is a company a startup?

An increasing number of household names are still deemed to be startups so it can certainly be confusing when we consistently hear of their enormous growth figures.

In its simplest terms – a company is a startup if it is trying to figure out the market for their idea and how to sell their product.

When it has figured out the right product for the right market (after lots of iterations) - and the right business model that makes money from lots of customers - it can then be termed as an ‘enterprise’ business

Famous Startups

Many of the world’s most famous companies today were mere startups not so long ago such as AirBNB, Uber, Instagram, Wework, Buzzfeed, Alibaba, Etsy.

If you want to work for a young, vibrant company that is likely to really go places then read on to find out why you should work for a tech startup and if it meets your personal and professional aspirations

The advantages of working at a tech startup

1. Perks

Startups can vary from the incredibly well funded to the not so - and pay isn’t always the top perk.

There can be other perks that may be more important to you such as remote working, open leave policies or free meals. Or you may see the best perk being that of completing something from start to finish that is truly ground breaking.

Maybe you want to take an interest in a company where you might gain a valuable piece of equity or stock and reap huge benefits if all goes well

2. Promotion and Career Advancement

If you get in early as a key member of staff at a startup you may have the chance to be promoted to an Executive position with maybe only 4-7 yrs experience rather than following a more traditional and extremely lengthy career path.  It is highly likely that there will be numerous opportunities to take on responsibility and many companies are following Google’s lead on spending a regular proportion of the week working on innovation or their own projects.


If you’re a recent graduate there is probably no better chance of getting ahead of your fellow contemporaries and super charging your career. Promotion and career progression can be very quick without having to wait a standard length of time as in other companies. Performance is likely to define the speed of progress so you can advance at the rate you wish. It is also likely that there is a very flat hierarchy, increased levels of autonomy and less bureaucracy where you will work alongside top management rather than only seeing them in yearly review videos.

3. An alternative to the corporate world

For those fed up with the corporate rat race and enticed by a new type of working life in funky offices, rather than soulless cubicles, working at a startup can be a great alternative and a chance to work with like minded peers.

Tech Startups tend to be set up for a culture that is more creative where traditional careerpaths are cast aside with the focus being on developing good, flexible, skilled workers with few barriers to progress such as strict job descriptions

4. Agile, exciting and challenging work

You learn quickly at a startup.

It’s a steep learning curve where there is continual challenge but you’ll get to increase your responsibility, knowledge and become more efficient.

You’re likely to use agile work processes where you’ll have a big say in what you’re working on, when and how.

There are also usually fewer meetings. Time is money and the most has to be made of the funding available. The quicker the progress the better the opportunity to bring a product to market and make it profitable.

If you have entrepreneurial ambitions of your own this is the perfect grounding to learn a wide range of skills and create solutions that work for unique scenarios.

Every day you will learn something new (often totally out of your remit) and be able to own your part of the work

5. Upskilling in all areas

You’re going to be involved with multiple areas of the company due to the lack of formality and the need to wear different hats. You’ll learn about many of the different departments, how they operate and learn quite a lot on the fly – so you’re going to need to be hyper adaptable.

If you’re a developer you might get to understand the whole development process from writing code to deployment and testing where in a large company this would be done by a variety of teams.

You’ll almost definitely come out of the experience with an incredibly well rounded and marketable cv even if it has been a little ‘sink or swim’ at times.

6. Get in at the start of something big

To many, the key attraction of joining a startup is to be in with a chance to be rich and reap the rewards of all your hard work. If the company successfully exits you may well get a share of the profit.

That won’t always happen however, but it is a fantastic opportunity to be part of building a company.

You’ll be at the heart of the family rather than just a number and in a culture that allows you to grow where you are fully bought into the work as if it is your own. Any success means so much more personally and the insights you will gain will be invaluable if you ever want to start your own company.

You might even get the chance to solve a problem that makes a real difference to people’s lives though your ‘disruptive’ technology and feel that your work is much more meaningful.

7. Be listened to

Startups are where ideas become reality.  A culture of listening to innovative or even highly unconventional ideas, and freedom of thought, means that those ideas can become products quickly.

If you’ve got a great imagination and a team who can implement and make those ideas real then you have the perfect storm for potential success. You may earn less initially than at a large business but you’ll get to make a difference and be much more influential at every stage of production. You’ll understand the bigger picture which will be an invaluable skill for your future career

8. Creative freedom

In a large company there is little hope for defining your work, methodology, coding style, tech stack or career path -  and even less freedom when it comes to creativity. Startup culture allows for freedom in many guises especially when it comes to how you code and it can be a much more enjoyable working environment for developers

9. Be part of the family

Your team is going to be pretty close as you’re going to spend a lot of time working together and be more involved in the running of the business as a whole. This will hopefully lead to an atmosphere of solidarity and a tight knit team that works well together.

Are startups for you?

Every startup is different but the points above should be common themes especially the small teams with a passion for achieving their goal ….plus the long hours!

So if the themes above fit what you are looking for then start checking out some startup jobs to see if you can find the role that suits your dreams and aspirations.

As an employee at a startup you might not always work for the most successful company (but you just might!) . .  you’ll certainly gain experience that will help you further in your career than in a more traditional company

Added 19-Dec-2019

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