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My startup journey (johnjianwang.medium.com)
158 points by mkx 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 24 comments

> Just before launch date, we stayed up the entire night fixing polish items. I remember going to sleep in a phone booth and waking up early in the morning to try to finish out some last edits while Michelle worked on the blog post

God damn, I'm old. That start up scene used to sound appealing to me but now makes me cringe.

Not to mention the preceding paragraph:

> When I started at Stripe, I asked to delay my start date until after a family vacation, but my manager just told me to start sooner and take time off later (Stripe was just shy of 100 employees and moving incredibly quickly). I now had an artificial deadline of one month to ship my first project.

That’s a reasonably sized red flag. Asking someone to miss a family vacation so they can go after some arbitrary deadline?


Author here: to be clear, I asked if it was OK to start later after the family vacation, but my manager said I could just start earlier and take the family vacation as a large amount of PTO. There wasn't anything malicious there.

Wait I read that as they start earlier, and take the time off as planned, later. Only because the exact same thing happened to me, maybe it's ambiguous?

For what it's worth, when I joined Stripe (a bit closer to 400), I told my manager that I had a 2-week vacation after my first week of work, and they were totally fine with it! I suspect this is more of a "setting expectations early" and the cost of making a change

If there was a fundraising event in between, this was a generous offer. The strike price on those options could've gone way up. I'm not sure if that's the case here but I've heard it happen at other fast growing startups.

John! Thanks for sharing your story. Anyone who ate as many Costco muffins as you, Doug, Max, Ted, and me during YC were destined for great things :) Congrats on the fundraise!

Does your API newsletter have an archive of the old ones by any chance? I am trying to go over as much material as I can especially from first hand experience as I am building a fairly involving one.

Yep, it's all in the archive: https://getputpost.co/archive. Might be a little dated now! Hope you enjoy.

Thanks Gordon, those were good times =)

> For the next 6 months, I spent my extra hours before class (and during my least favorite classes) working on Rails bug reports... The core team members held every pull request to a very high standard, and I learned a lot about how to write good code.

My question is how he got anyone from rails core team to review his PR's! Maybe things were different then.

Author here: I started by making really small patches at the beginning and building up credibility with the team. For example, one of my earliest commits was just to add better verbiage on migrations (https://github.com/rails/rails/commit/b4c99ea0a4d7e5223fa1b2...). Eventually the core team saw my name enough that my pull requests could get more complex.

I love the way you wrote the article with all those lessons at the beginning of every sub-chapter. Good luck further on.

Hah what a similar story to my own - open source, Stripe then into YC. The energy at Stripe was unreal and I’m not sure I fully groked it until I started my own business.

> Everyone I talked to genuinely cared about their job and about me as a person, and everyone was high powered.

Simply walking around the office(s) was incredibly energizing for this reason. Fairly hard contrast with the last year of isolation and working alone! “Figure out what great looks like” is great advice, but I will say it does generate some imposter syndrome that I hadn’t felt before Stripe and YC, for (probably) better or for worse. Capitalizing on these experiences without getting caught up in comparison paralysis is a genuine skill that you seem to have mastered. Congratulations on the funding!

Do you know any more blog posts, like the OP's, talking about internal culture at Stripe?

Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you are having a lot of fun!

It seems like Zinc is highly profitable. Now that you are running Assembled - is Zinc on autopilot?

I am also curious to know..why you decided to go for VC funding for Assembled when Zinc could help bootstrap it.

Zinc is still running! Xiang Li (https://www.linkedin.com/in/xli88/) is at the helm and pushing it to bigger and better things.

For why we took VC funding for Assembled: the full explanation is probably worth its own article. But the short answer is that the space and the opportunity are really big in customer support and the money helps us move much faster.

This stuff does make me uneasy, because it's what we all need, enough of a support system to be able to fail, but so few of us have it. When I failed I was homeless, and it still hurts. When I sock away a hundred thousand maybe I can have a journey.

Support system is definitely not often mentioned. Thanks for bringing this up

You captured the stochastic nature of building quite well - thanks for sharing : )

Hey John! Always nice to see a familiar face on HN - thanks for sharing the story!

Good write up and thanks for sharing OP. I can’t believe it was just 2014/2015 that Stripe was an 100 persons company.

Nice Article JOhn!

A lot of ex-Stripe companies are destined for success

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