Start-ups have suddenly become the ‘cool’ thing to do. If I would have to draw the caricature of the coooooolest guy out there right now, it would be somebody like:
“A college drop-out with worn-out jeans, riding a Royal Enfield, with a Guitar on his back, on the way to his basement office, from where he will leave in the evening for his open-mic stand-up gig.”
For me, they haven’t been just a fad or a cool thing to do. To be honest, I was awe-struck from the very first time I watched the movie – Pirates of the Silicon Valley. The movie revolved around the formation of Silicon Valley and the first generation entrepreneurs and game changers like Apple, Microsoft and HP fighting against the IBMs and Xeroxs or the world.
I always dreamt of doing something like that. I am currently doing something like that. However, there were almost 3 years in between, and I was extremely fortunate to venture into almost every major category of ‘start-up’ in this short period of time.
Let me give you a tour of them:
1. The Corporate Startup: I do not know who coined this term, but this has got me into splits from the very first time, I read the mail. One of the best oxymorons I have ever come across.
I was working with a big corporate, an insurance firm. One of the days, when I was utterly bored of my job, my boss called me into his cabin.
He started the discussion with the line: ‘So I remember you telling me that you have always wanted to work in a start-up. This is a project, ideated by our beloved CEO and I want you to take this up in our region. It is almost like a startup. Limited budget, unlimited potential.
I still can’t forget the three months paid holiday the company gave me, in the name of ‘processes are being set up, you keep on working on the ideation.’ Well sir, just a reminder, that’s not how startups are built.
2. The Pseudo-Startup:
The coolest thing in the company was the Air Conditioner, the most flexible thing was the plastic chair in the pantry, and I am pretty sure, the CEO couldn’t even spell passion without auto-correct.
The word startup has already become ‘cool’ and was catching on as a career option. This guy did a really neat job of fooling the world that the company had a flexible and a cool culture (Startup Requirement 1.0).
I had nothing better to do, and I was tired of all the ‘not-working’, so I gave it a shot. The shot was an incredibly poor one. The company was small, not a start-up.
I ran, ran like a wind and with all the luck I had, I fell into the one place, I could have ever wanted.
3. The Growing Startup: I was so desperate to get out of the pseudo-startup, that I applied for every job on almost every job portal out there. The desperation worked and this time, I had 3 jobs from 3 companies with 3 different salaries.
You could have easily guessed which one I would join. It had to be the established company with the highest package. Only, it wasn’t. I joined the growing startup with the lowest offered salary.
It would take a lot many words and more to even express the experience I have had here but I will give a few pointers to identify a growing startup:
- Passion. Hell yeah!
- Office timings? What?
- Work life balance? Really?
- Sense of achievement? Big time.
- Motivation to make it big. Un-measurable!
I loved it there. If you were in my place, you wouldn’t have left the job for the world. But, it was me in my place and not you. So…
4. Building a Startup: That brings us to the present. When a guy is so infectious that he brings you in two minds about leaving what you were in complete love with, a while ago you better join him. Right now, he is making me work on a product that none of us know how will it shape up. I am working with a team sitting thousands of miles apart. No physical infrastructure or security or validation, and I am loving every friggin bit of it.
As, a very wise man re-iterated and help me take a decision,
“If not now then when? If not you, then who?”
P.S: The featured image is not all relevant to the blog apart from the fact, that guitars are ‘cool’. It’s just that I found it be attractive.