Startups

Do you regret working at a startup? Share your stories

New / Eng
elliot

NewEng

PRE
Google
BIO
I just want a job with talented people who care about design, privacy and security. One company comes to mind.
elliotmore
Nov 24

I'm talking about the downsides you didn't realise until later.

For example, I joined a startup as employee #3 but I never realised equity will get diluted 20x if taking on rounds of investors so I was essentially holding 0.5% (around $40,000) which is peanuts after 3 years.

What are some of your horror stories or things you wish you knew before?

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  • Google / Othersnidely
    Founders are frequently highly intelligent, highly driven, narcissistic assholes. Some of the behavior I've seen from them would get them fired from any remotely decent company immediately. Do you wanna work with people like that? I don't.
    Nov 244
    • New / DesignIFhq14
      +1
      Nov 24
    • ZocDoc not_Hotdog
      It's not like they don't exist in larger companies. You just have to be smart and do your research about where you're going.

      I've worked for both start ups and large companies. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is worthwhile getting experience in both if you can.
      Nov 24
    • New / Other
      Call Me.

      NewOther

      BIO
      Turned my beeper on.
      Call Me.more
      This. They are typically assholes.
      Nov 24
    • Amazon IdkcjeLs
      +1. My father’s personality totally changed after he started a company. Now he is so entitled it’s hard to be around him. Absolute power corrupts and all.
      Nov 24
  • Intercom h3y
    I worked at small startups until my current job at a late-stager that is huge by comparison. What I realized post-hoc was that the small companies made decisions based on no research, no data, no A/B testing, just gut feelings all the time. I didn’t know to the bothered about it then, but now I could never go back.
    Nov 240
  • Amazon crypto*
    Your startup valuation seems to be $8 million & you own 0.5% of it. It looks like in it's early stages. If it grows 10x-50x you will have significant gains even after equity dilution. Why do you think it's a horror story ?
    Nov 243
    • Bloomberg RSRVSlayer
      Because most startups don’t become unicorns.
      Nov 24
    • New / Eng
      elliot

      NewEng

      PRE
      Google
      BIO
      I just want a job with talented people who care about design, privacy and security. One company comes to mind.
      elliotmore
      OP
      Yep see the comment above mine. In this day and age a company can be valued at 200million but if the software will take another 5 years to build and you're on a vesting schedule of 2 years and the investors have preference shares then it's easily not worth it. Things like preference shares is something that you remain ignorant of until it's too late
      Nov 24
    • Amazon crypto*
      @RSRVSlayer That's obvious. That's the risk OP took by joining a startup which is in super early stage at such a low valuation.

      All I mean to say is may be it is too early to comment and equity dilution is nothing new in an early stage startup.
      Nov 24
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • New / Eng
      elliot

      NewEng

      PRE
      Google
      BIO
      I just want a job with talented people who care about design, privacy and security. One company comes to mind.
      elliotmore
      OP
      Wlb and worthless equity is something that concerns me. A lottery ticket is only worth something if you have the winning one. It seems too many people jump into a startup expecting big things but in reality very little ever is accomplished
      Nov 24
  • U.S. Dpt. of Veterans Affairs / Other😃😄😃meh
    Reading Venture Deals will help you avoid most of startup heartaches
    Nov 241
    • Boeing flpjt17
      Maybe when founding...When joining an existing startup as a non-founding/exec member, you have very little visibility into the topics covered in that book.

      Just to be clear, I recommend the book to almost anyone looking to either start a venture or just beginning to break into junior VC roles. It's great, but not quite what I think the OP was seeking.

      (I'm a 2x founder, 1x VC-backed startup joiner, and now VC investor)
      Nov 24
  • Vertivco / Eng
    FastPapuan

    VertivcoEng

    PRE
    YouTube, American Bureau of Shipping, Facebook
    FastPapuanmore
    TC or GTFO.
    Nov 241
    • New / Eng
      elliot

      NewEng

      PRE
      Google
      BIO
      I just want a job with talented people who care about design, privacy and security. One company comes to mind.
      elliotmore
      OP
      $30,000/yr and 0.5% equity
      Nov 24
  • Intuit Merc77
    Unless you are one of the founders, any stock options are pretty much crap. This is the majority, probably a few exceptions though. Not really worth working at a startup. To make it worst, most of them don’t appreciate you. They are indeed narcissistic assholes.
    Nov 240
  • Pinterest hYsFmN
    Joining a startup is a huge risk in terms of how much your equity could be worth. Sure it's not worth much right now but if you believe that this product is really useful, and has real value then the company could be worth a lot. In the case you will make more then you ever could joining a big company.

    The main reason to join a startup is to learn a ton and make a real impact. I know every company sells you on doing impactful work but it is nothing like working at a small company. Your work will literally shape the company and directly impact it's success or failure.
    Nov 240
  • Paper worth north of $3M at one point but founders messed up badly. No regrets though as I leaned a lot and applying the lessons in my current startup journey.
    Nov 242
    • New / Eng
      elliot

      NewEng

      PRE
      Google
      BIO
      I just want a job with talented people who care about design, privacy and security. One company comes to mind.
      elliotmore
      OP
      Oh yikes. Do you mind elaborating on how they messed up?
      Nov 24
    • So many things messed up.
      - Their egos shot up to the moon and started to smoke weed.
      - instead of selling they were trying to dupe VC to reach unicorn status.
      - gave middle fingers to all partners.
      - hired lots of VPs and no engineers.
      - I can go on for another 20 bullet points then I will be exposed lol.
      Nov 24
  • New vizkid
    I learned a crap ton, which was awesome. And I don't have hard feelings re equity dilution because I went in assuming it was worth 0. They did pay me a ok salary though, not great but just slightly lower than market.
    Nov 241
    • ZocDoc not_Hotdog
      I agree with learning a lot. I found in big companies, even FAANG, there was a lot more politics, dead beat management and everything happened so slowly. It took months for a decision to be made only for it to get changed 3 months later when the latest reorg happened. Lots of bad devs and PMs who fly below the radar for years and years too.

      Not saying startups are great. They have their flaws too. But it's near impossible for shit people to hide their shitty work, everyone gets a lot of responsibility and opportunity to learn and show their worth, things happen fast.

      Some people here either chose really shitty startups or never left their large companies and are just pushing rumours.

      Both start ups and established companies have their ups and downs. I think people should experience both. Personally I side with the start up culture but I'm very careful about chosing a company. As I grow older and more settled I might go back to a larger company.
      Nov 24
  • Google Eating
    How does equity dilution work?
    Nov 240
  • After 3 years and your company is only worth $8M. Probably buy the options if you believe in them and go work for some other companies. You won’t lose much if they go bust.
    Nov 240

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