Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Briefly to begin, I'm going to read the above extremely uncharitably, not in an effort to besmirch aeternum but instead to try and tear down some terrible guidelines about life choices that I've seen going around.

Here follows my translation of the advice above:

> Yes you will probably make more at an established company, but your rate of growth can be much higher at a startup.

You'd personally benefit more from working at an established company, but if you work for a startup you'll be trained on the cheap and then an established company can reap more profits from you.

> I worked at a large tech company for 3 years before joining a startup, and learned more in the first month at the startup than the full 3 years at the large tech company.

The comfort of a large tech company is nothing compared to the stress filled life of working at a startup, having to constantly innovate on your toes and learn your own ways will push you to develop faster - but if you hit a wall you're truly hooped.

> I was able to design and implement a service in a matter of days, whereas at the large tech company those 3 days would easily spent convincing people that the service is needed in the first place.

I saw a need and dedicated some days of labour to filling that need, because it was a valid need I was praised, if it hadn't sold I'd be chewed out for wasting time - and there is no guidance on which needs might be helpful or not... Within a startup you'll be expected to do user surveys and then market your new product even though no time is formally afforded for either.

> Direct exposure to customers also is really interesting and changes you as an engineer.

I assume when you decided to become a software dev you really meant UX designer? If your perfect world is being given a task to do and doing it accurately to a high level of perfection then have fun trying to quickly adapt your highly designed system to literally contradictory client requests coming from the same customer.

> It's definitely a no guardrail environment, in the early days we had a bug that directly cost us a large customer pilot. No better teacher than experience, we did not make that mistake twice.

Losing your shirt trying to make your day job not collapse and then being excluded from any of the benefits when your company goes public is character building.




It sounds like you shouldn’t go to a startup. I’ve done a mix of both (from #1 hire out of 2 total engineers all the way to a Fortune 25). Across the board, I’ve found the smaller the better (more enjoyable, more learning, more energy, more urgency, better colleagues).

Yeah, there’s no formal time laid out to do step X in the course of development. There’s the chance that you won’t make payroll someday.

It’s definitely not for everyone, but when you get a good team together on a good project, it’s fantastically energizing.


I'd rather educate the population on the pitfalls of startups so that people going into them are less naive and so that the experience of working there can be more enjoyable and fairly compensated.

I have really enjoyed working at small companies as well - not two person startups working on hopes and dreams, but companies under a year old that are struggling to stablize their offering of a product that they know there is a market for. Startups can be lots of fun, they can also be a grind trying to keep up with shifting customer requests - especially if you find yourself with a single dominant customer that knows they can push you around. Start ups can buy you an island or you could make 60k a year for three years and then be let go immediately prior to an IPO. There is an immense amount of risk there and I'd like to see some shifts in startup culture to provide a bit more assurances since the experience can vary wildly.

Maybe employees at small companies need to be guaranteed (i.e. by the government) a portion of that company for their work, maybe work days need to have a hard limit on them - maybe there just needs to be more VC funding sloshing around and given away in small doses - 200k to twenty companies will produce a lot more success than 4m to a single company.


What problems do we see that are evidence that government intervention is needed or would be helpful?

I see a lot of people very much willingly freely entering into contracts that are beneficial overall for society. That many startups fail and few result in king’s ransom payouts for employees who put up no money to form the company seems ok and preferable to an environment where government has a heavy role in picking startups, regulating work, or otherwise mucking things up.

If a couple of my buddies and I want to work together and want to work as hard as humanly possible at it, why ought that be disallowed?


The implication of it being you and your buddies being that you won't get shafted if it goes well or shafted more than is reasonable if it doesn't.


In my experience it’s the team more than the size/lifecycle of the firm. I’ve worked on teams hitting on all cylinders in large and small companies. Similarly I’ve had bad teams in those environments and all sizes in between.


> If your perfect world is being given a task to do and doing it accurately to a high level of perfection

I think it should be obvious if that is what you desire start-ups are not for you. Whoever hired you failed at their job.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: