Do you have regrets joining your startup?

Amazon oldsake
Jun 28, 2018 32 Comments

If you were to go back and evaluate your offer again, what would you have done?

Examples:
- Negotiate higher base or equity
- Negotiate something else like wfh or perks
- Investigate founders and team
- Investigate the business plan
- Asked about the tech stack

Planning to join an early stage startup soon and looking for some advice. Hope to hear about your personal experience.

Edit: Ppl are answering “early stage vs. unicorn/big company?” But the question is more “how do I evaluate this startup and offer?”

comments

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TOP 32 Comments
  • Facebook cynical.ly
    Here are some tips I heard from others, and my own system:
    1. Establish your limits. For me, that was mainly: time and money. How much am I willing to forgo, and for how long? The worst case scenario for a startup (esp founders and early employees) is not outright failure, but elusive success. One can keep on sacrificing, with the hope of growth that never happens. Have some time limit and limit on money time willing to lose. This can be your own money investing in, or loss of earnings because you're compromising on the pay. And pull the plug, jump ship if either of those limits are broken.
    2. This is something I heard from a very successful founder. Have a fundamental, deep in the heart reason for why you want to do it. It is not to justify to anybody else, but yourself. In a startup, there will inevitably times when you're going to question yourself, second guess your decision. In those times, it helps to remember the deep in the heart reason and trudge on.
    Jun 28, 2018 1
    • Amazon oldsake
      OP
      Very profound. I like it. I “followed my heart” within Amazon and that led me to hell so now I’m trying to “follow my heart with some checklist”
      Jun 28, 2018
  • Google fried🐙
    People have to have a good reason not to collect cash money from FANG these days; figure out what that reason is
    Jun 28, 2018 2
    • Amazon oldsake
      OP
      So if the reason is you want more challenges and you are excited about the product, how does that help? You know this info beforehand and that’s why you interviewed I the first place. The question is more about how you can surface red flags
      Jun 28, 2018
    • Google fried🐙
      I guess I’m saying that it has to be a really compelling vision, have a reasonable chance of success, the company has to have its shit together, the technical stack has to be thought through, etc. Lack of any of those (or severe weakness / inability to figure it out) is in itself a red flag. Maybe this is begging the question 😂
      Jun 28, 2018
  • New / Eng
    albion

    New Eng

    PRE
    Facebook
    BIO
    Political dynamite.
    albionmore
    Interview some of the team 1-on-1 over their feelings about their leaders. Twice I did not do that and twice I paid for it.
    Jun 28, 2018 2
    • Amazon oldsake
      OP
      This is a good suggestion
      Jun 28, 2018
    • New / Eng
      albion

      New Eng

      PRE
      Facebook
      BIO
      Political dynamite.
      albionmore
      Did you do it?

      It’s always a strong sign when the leader volunteers employees for you to interview post-offer. Terrible sign if they object or act like you’re imposing on them.
      Jun 29, 2018
  • Grab m@d
    Only regret is not joining sooner
    Jun 28, 2018 1
  • Microsoft UMbR31
    I always asked to talk to a sales exec from the team for 15 minutes, it's always met with a wtf surprise, but just asking them "why does your product sell", "what's the one thing blocking most deals" will help you judge how things will work out in the near future.
    Jun 28, 2018 0
  • Bloomberg / Eng iVX372
    Why would you work for a startup? I understand that Amazon burns people out so if that's the case for you, why not work for Airbnb, Stripe, Lyft, Twilio, Square, Bloomberg, Google etc instead?
    Jun 28, 2018 6
    • Bloomberg / Eng iVX372
      "Level" is a bullshit reason that will not steer any competent recruiter or hiring manager for a future role.

      Being more interested in the work and product than that of any major tech company role are the only legitimate reasons to join a startup imo, in light of the comp and WLB sacrifice relative to big companies besides Amazon.

      Impact is what you make of it. At a big company, small changes and features can have big revenue upsides. At a startup, massive features can have zero effect on revenue and in the best case, they still won't affect it as much as at a large company. 5x growth from 100 to 500 users and $0 revenue is only cool if you really love the work
      Jun 28, 2018
    • Google fried🐙
      Also, challenge because you’re rebuilding tech is not really a challenge. But for me personally it would be good to get away from the self-inflicted challenges of the kind at F&G.
      Jun 28, 2018
    • Bloomberg / Eng iVX372
      What sort of self-inflicted challenges? Please elaborate
      Jun 29, 2018
    • NAVEX Global HollaBackG
      I prefer to work for a startup. Everyone’s excited, there’s a lot of energy, everyone’s contributions are noticed and appreciated.
      Jun 29, 2018
    • Google fried🐙
      @bloomberg just politics (only hear things about fb but complaint is usually around only following metrics)
      Jun 29, 2018
  • I've done it multiple times, started my own too. Had some success but def an uphill battle. It really depends on your personality. Are you scrappy? Does t excite you to do what it takes? Are you comfortable with failing hard, sometimes in the public eye via press? Where r u in your career? Just starting out and already having lots of exp is ideal. If uve hit ceilings in self-learning, startups won't be ideal (early ones).
    Jun 28, 2018 3
    • Amazon oldsake
      OP
      I didn’t quite understand the last part. Why aren’t startups ideal if you’ve hit the ceiling?
      Jun 29, 2018
    • It's personal opinion, but I think you can learn on ur own to a certain point, at which you'll need some mentorship to get over the learning "hump" that's a bit tougher to find in an early startup environment. Hence why I think if you're just starting out (0-3 YOE) or very experienced (>7 YOE), startups r great because u can learn a lot as a newbie, or put ur experiences to the test as a semi-vet to see if u can actually help build a business.
      Jun 29, 2018
    • Amazon oldsake
      OP
      I see, yes I am putting things to the test. But there’s always room to learn even if you’re mid.
      Jun 29, 2018
  • New / Eng
    polygon55

    New Eng

    PRE
    500 Startups
    polygon55more
    Most start-ups fail. Have many one- on-one meetings with the leaderships. Then go with your gut feeling. Most often you would be right.
    Jun 28, 2018 1
    • Amazon oldsake
      OP
      Thanks, most startups failing is already a given and hindsight is very powerful, so I’d like to hear stories so I can at least do as much due diligence as I can
      Jun 28, 2018
  • Amazon Morecoffee
    I was at a startup before Amazon, and loved it! A few things that helped me: 1) what's WLB? 2) Must be beyond series A funding and backed by reputable VCs 3) Has the founder successfully sold a company before? Also, pretend your stock options will never come to fruition. Most startups fail, and they will dangle those stock options as if they are worth as much as RSUs and they could literally be worthless.
    Jun 30, 2018 3
    • Amazon oldsake
      OP
      I know it depends on life situation and age, but can you share what you considered a reasonable cash comp given that options are worth nothing? How long did you stay before you finally called it quits?

      I assume your startup is in the Bay Area.
      Jul 1, 2018
    • Amazon BethFromHR
      At the time I made the middle of market rate for NYC: was a consultant for 2 years, then FT 1. I now make way more at Amazon than the start up thanks to the stocks - for me to go back to a startup, my base pay after taxes would need to be comparable to my current total comp after taxes. I like startup culture much better- quicker to innovate and more socially progressive.
      Jul 1, 2018
    • Thumbtack BHfk35
      My CFO gave me the similar advice when I left the smaller start up I was at. He said ask about where their funding is coming from? How much funding will the need in the years to come? Is the funding feasible in your opinion and theirs! What are the revenues, has their been growth in revenues? Big overall question how do they plan to fund their growth? If it's ALL funding and no type of self sustaining revenues plans. I would be extremely cautious! The finances of a company says a lot about a company! Cause if that isn't being planned out they are not taking things seriously.
      Nov 10, 2018
  • Two Sigma / Eng shhhhhhhh_
    In this thread, people give op advice without answering his question.
    Jun 29, 2018 1
    • New / Eng
      albion

      New Eng

      PRE
      Facebook
      BIO
      Political dynamite.
      albionmore
      To be fair, the subject and the first line of this post are asking two different things. The follow up questions also begin to tread into short form essay territory.
      Jun 29, 2018
  • eBay sudo
    I think it takes different kind of people to join and be successful at startups compare to FANG. FANG companies were startups too and it took courage for those join early and bear the risk. Todsy, most people join FANG, as you can see from Blind, are looking for instant cash so they attract mercenaries that just want to build stuff on top of stable platform and runtime.
    Jul 1, 2018 0
  • NAVEX Global HollaBackG
    I wish I would have Negotiated more equity.
    Jun 29, 2018 0