My entire career has been in technology, at companies that range from startups (where I have been the founding member) to Fortune 50 corporations. I’m currently the Chief Technology Officer of Shortlist, a recruiting technology startup that helps companies in India and East Africa hire based on demonstrated skill and potential, instead of pedigree. We just raised $1 million in seed funding, and are always on the lookout for great engineers to join our tech team in Hyderabad.
I’m all too aware of the societal and professional pressures that might keep an engineer from joining a startup, including company branding (ideally most of the family should be aware of the company - especially during marriage proposals), job security to pay for home or car loans, pressure to be the breadwinner of the family, and many more. It’s frustrating to meet talented young engineers who are a great fit with our team but feel unable to take the leap - so if you’re an engineer, here are five reasons why you should join a startup:
Reason #1: Opportunity to work on cutting-edge technologies
At startups, the appetite for experimenting with new technologies is higher since innovation is at the heart of every startup. Most big companies are cautious of upgrading to newer technologies given their application impact and cost of training new employees.
At Shortlist, we launched one of our flagship products using Angular 2 JS before Google had even launched Angular 2 to production. Of course, we had our share of problems by choosing this risky route. But luckily, we had access to engineers from the Google team that developed Angular who worked alongside us to solve the bugs together. The experience and feeling of being ahead in the game when it comes to launching products using new technologies are fantastic.
Reason #2: Expedited skills growth
Every engineer will have a chance to wear multiple hats in a startup. Working at startups allows them to pursue their passion in many areas, rather than sticking to the limited job duties. Most engineers are usually involved in all phases of the SDLC making them an all-rounder helping them boost their career opportunities. For example, our lead engineer Sunny was introduced to Java and back-end technologies during the beginning of his career and continued for over seven years. Recently, he started contributing to AWS, found it interesting, and is now executing complex AWS projects which he says was only possible given our support of his growth.
Reason #3: Company branding can later become an asset
Some candidates whom I interviewed mentioned that they liked everything about Shortlist, especially our culture and tech stack, but couldn’t accept our offer because their family wasn’t aware of the company name. Startups aren’t known to the world until they become super successful like Facebook or WhatsApp. How many people heard about the 55 people WhatsApp before it was acquired by Facebook for 19 billion dollars? While not every startup hits it big, it can be a bet worth taking if you believe in the value of the product.
Reason #4: Product companies
Working at a product company is a preferred by many engineers compared to working at a service-based company. For someone writing thousands of lines of code, it’s going to be a rewarding experience to see the impact of it in the real world on a regular basis. At product startups, engineers are involved early in the product vision, product roadmap and have an opportunity to contribute entrepreneurial ideas to the business. Engineers have an opportunity to learn a lot more beyond core software development by participating in business meetings, sales calls, user interviews, experimenting new technologies, building innovative solutions and more.
Reason #5: Make an impact - and get recognized for it
When you launch new features in a startup, the impact you make can be observed very quickly and easily. In a bigger company, the piece of code you contribute to may feel insignificant in the huge ocean of code contributed by hundreds of engineers. Passionate engineers get noticed in the early stages and are promoted quickly giving them a jumpstart to their career ladder. For example, Tilak joined us as a technical support engineer and grew to become a software developer in 6 months. Based on his performance and hard work, he was promoted to a lead role in another 9 months and is currently leading a team of engineers. This accelerated career growth can be possible by working in startups.
Bonus: Startups are Fun!
Most startups believe that the best work and ideas come from work hard, play hard culture. From celebrating the big milestones to appreciating the little things, startups have a strong company culture that encourages both teamwork and healthy competition.
How to choose for yourself?
The word ‘startup’ is an inclusive term and is used by a company with a single person to a company with more than 10,000 employees, like Uber. When evaluating a startup, one needs to look at the strength of the leadership team, funding status, number of employees, happy clients, the culture of the company, the problem they are trying to solve, products they are working on, and more.
A few engineers who initially hesitated to join us because we are an early stage startup eventually joined our team after asking and finding answers to the above questions. Not all startups are the same. So, ask the right questions before you accept or reject an offer from a startup. Good luck!
Ready to make the leap? We are always looking for talented engineers in Java and other open source web technologies at our Hyderabad office. Learn more at www.shortlist.net and get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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