Year 2010, the startup buzz was just starting in the country. People from business backgrounds, were slowly starting their IT ventures. The risk taking appetite of people from non-business backgrounds was still to be ignited. After the IT bubble burst post Y2K and then the crisis in 2008-09, things were slowly picking up in IT, but not motivating enough for people to venture out on their own. But yes, in the nearing times to come, ‘Product’ was to become the buzzword. What happened next, as we all know, is history and the milestones can be traced back in time.
After 6 years of working in MNCs, when you get a break in a completely new field and that too in IT, it’s a welcome change. I was the 4th employee after the founders in this startup. This was the first startup I owned. Yes, that’s right, as an employee of a startup, you are no less than the founders. We the employees, were all in it together, rolling our sleeves up, with all hands on deck right alongside the founders. Be it making tea for each other, to donning the multiple roles of HR and Admin, to getting the “right” fit of new employees to build the team or drive employee engagement, each and every day you live the dream of turning the startup in a successful venture and do whatever you can. There’s ALWAYS very little scope for ‘I’, for there’s always in abundance for everyone. You slog together, you fret together and you absolutely rock the show together.
The best memories of my first startup include spending countless nights together with the teams, making remarkably amazing apps, as we got great exposure into new generation ideas in technology. The crazy moments we shared, the highs and the lows, the knowledge we received, all of these have helped us reach where we stand today. This will be agreed by those who’ve worked with me in the said startups, my fellow entrepreneurs/partners I must say. Cannot miss mentioning that this is the place I found my mentor and guide who introduced me to the world of Project Management and has stood by me like a rock, guiding me through all important career related decisions. You get easy access to such gems when you work in a startup.
The most amazing opportunity in startups is working closely with the founders, especially if they are amazing human beings. The other best exposure for me was working closely with American entrepreneurs on their projects, for their companies. No one shares the same spirit as they do. Talking of clients, all of them from US (including 3 amazing women entrepreneurs), one hell of an amazing Brit, a genius German settled in US, 2 Indians and an Arab, they’ve all been the best clients I could have ever asked for. I consider myself really lucky to learn the traits of business and entrepreneurship from all of them and most of them continue to motivate till date. They are the best mentors to have, not because they do it themselves, but because YOU want to ignite that fire in yourself, YOU wish to learn and get influenced, take guidance and YOU want to implement all that you’ve learnt.
What I learnt from my founders is their common quote, “Do not talk to us about problems, there will always be problems. Please come to us with solutions.”
Two most important lessons I learnt from my clients is that you can easily say “No” to them if something’s not possible as planned. They will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you’ve given the true picture with logical reasons. They trust you better with that. Secondly, the most important lesson I’ve learnt from my clients is that work as hard as you can, but you’ve got to LIVE life to the fullest and make the most of it too. These people do so many different things in their life, despite having businesses to run, I’ve still got to catch up on this one.
The next startup I owned was mine for just a short while, but this one gave beautiful challenges and experiences too. An energetic and a very talented team, big accounts to handle, another opportunity to manage the client engagement of all accounts alone and at the end of the short journey, a conviction to take a much needed break for myself and the family. With good memories to cherish and amazing lessons and experiences from clients at Amazon, MasterCard, Vodafone, MAERSK, Snapdeal and TCTS, it prepared me very well for the next venture that I was to join after my break. Such diverse experiences are really hard to get otherwise but luckily possible if you are in an amazing startup.
After a very refreshing and deserving break, the opportunity in the current venture, fulfilled my desire to work for a startup again. What perfect timing it was! A very complex challenge to address, a funded startup this time, a Product environment as against the Services background so far and the cherry on the pie with ‘Content Marketing’ and ‘Platform’ as the current buzz words. It was definitely the right time and the right place to start out with this venture.
If your startup has received funding, it’s like you are in a theme park, having enjoyed all the small rides and saving the ride on the highest roller coaster, for the end. The excitement, the exhilaration, the nervous moments, the joy and the laughter, all an ultimate crescendo for your startup journey. The journey here has been a year old (already) and there’s so much more to do.
In the times that we are in today, we have bold and budding entrepreneurs from all walks of life and not restricted to business families only anymore. They are brimming with ideas, running their startups with great energy and passion, they represent a generation that has come a long way to dream big. They make the unthinkable come true and raise hopes for others to follow suit and make a phenomenal difference to the world too. So, when you work for startup founders, lending your expertise, you do become a founder too, working with hundreds of fellow founders fueling success in your venture and learning business traits all the way.
Statistics state that any startup needs at least 5 years to decide whether it is successful or has it failed. So, when you work in one, celebrate startups, work hard and work smart and make it successful within 5 years. It is YOU that makes the difference, you the employee and as a founder too.
That my friends, is a startup’s view from the eye of an employee working with startups for the last 7 years with the wealth of experience working with an absolutely amazing set of people that made this experience so worthy in all the startups. The learning continues. 🙂
Author: Asha Panicker, Content