Some startups are looking for rank and file individual contributors (IC's), not entrepreneurs -- people who identify needs and take initiative to address them. Maybe the founders are entrepreneurs, but they hire a VP eng who hires a eng manager who doesn't have the entrepreneurial mindset when building out his team. Or maybe engineering decides to adopt scrum and doesn't realize this can clash with the initiative of IC's. Or maybe the startup founders want to have lots of control that leads to micromanaging.
At these startups, the eng IC is asked to implement a UI that exactly matches the mock ups from a designer or is asked to build a new feature that a product person spec'd out. Sometimes, the eng IC is in an eng team and is silo'd from the design and product teams and doesn't interact with the customer. The eng IC is discouraged from taking their own initiative (to build internal tools, improve the product performance, improve security, etc) because they need to support the product team by quickly building specific features. Sometimes the eng IC is assumed to only care about coding and not have the success of the company in mind.
If you are an entrepreneur, make sure your company is trying to fill their positions with entrepreneurs.
Tagging Netflix because they look for entrepreneurs.
They pay shit. No one ever gets the paper money. And yes, you’re right - they work you like a dog, and it’s just the same type of work as at a big company, except you have less time to do it and don’t get paid as much.