According to Alyson Shontell, Editor of Business Insider, a startup is “a few-year-old tech company that could still easily fail.” Others define it as any small company with big growth plans. Essentially, any agile company with a scalable (perhaps global) offering that is building a case for exponential growth can be called a Startup. The lines between Startups and Scaleups are equally as vague but either way - there are pros and cons to working at each.
Benefits of Working at a Startup over Corporates
One of my favourite things about being part of a Startup is that, if you don’t like the way things are done, you can change them. Processes aren’t set in stone by upper management. There are more chances to try out a different process or technique to see if there is a better way of doing something. Also there are more opportunities to expand into different roles. Everyone has heard that you wear many hats at a scale-up. If you wear a hat long enough you become the subject matter expert that others will turn to and before you know it, you could be heading up the department!
Interpreting the ‘Scaleup Jargon’
Here at Weploy, we’re all guilty of using the abbreviations and terms that are common to a lot of other Startups - MVP (Minimum Viable Product), Sprints, All-Hands and Retro’s. But we encourage all new starters to just ask if there’s something they don’t understand. These words were new to all of us once, so no one judges people for not knowing! I would be more worried if someone I’ve been working with for a year still doesn’t know what something means and had been using it anyway! Also, no two startups are the same and the same word can have a different meaning at a different company, so if you’re unsure, always ask.
Popular Roles at Startups
There are some big gaps in recruitment right now, and while Software Engineers, Data Scientists are becoming more sought after. Each company will always have their own specific skills gaps however, for example, Fintech companies are often looking for security specialists. Many Startups, by very definition - are growing fast so there will often be opportunities across the board in Sales, Marketing and Finance too.
Negatives of Working at a Startup over a Corporate
You don’t always get to choose the hats you wear. At Weploy, everyone in the business is encouraged to “Act like an owner” and we’re all encouraged to pitch in and pick up the slack, because if you don’t - no one else will. I find it can be hard to turn off sometimes too. A lot of what we’re working on revolves around solving problems related to the business and it can be tempting to keep cracking on trying to solve them outside of work. It’s important to take the time to relax and enjoy your hobbies. I make sure that when I get home, my laptop is closed and I’m present and engaged with my family.
Breaking into the Startup world
Startups and Scaleups need financial, sales and marketing teams just like any other company. They are trying to solve real world problems, so anyone who has experienced one of these problems can bring valuable insight into the challenges associated with solving them. I would encourage anyone, in any company to dip their toes into the tech-world. Not only will it help you understand some of the challenges facing tech companies today, but you could also become more valuable to the company overall. For example - HTML and CSS can help a graphic designer start moving into a frontend developer role. Sales and finance people who know a scripting language can understand and present their data better. Marketing heads can learn how to build a bot that will help them grow engaged followers on Twitter.
How to Land a Job at a Startup
Do your research on the company and share your thoughts in your cover letter and during interviews. Scale-ups are looking for people who care about the product and its mission, not people who just want a job.
Connect with the company through social media, comment and communicate on their posts. At a minimum, you will stand out from other applicants, but otherwise it’ll help them put a face to a name.
Connect with the individuals who work in the department you want to get a job in. Often scale-ups have recruitment incentives, so they will be happy to suggest you to HR.
Less corporate doesn’t mean less serious. While different Scale-ups describe their culture with different values statements, the common theme is a focus on the success for the product. Make sure you’re vocal about how you can contribute to that goal.