5 Amazing Things about The Startup Culture

 by Mohan Ramkumar  on   08 Jun 2012

Startup is a fluid concept. Number of years in business or profitability or the number of employees on role hardly count as a criterion anymore for a startup. 37signals is in business since 1999 and they are making money hand over fist. If it weren’t for them, the Rails framework – the engine that’s behind the most popular startups of the day – might not have come into existence. So does the Angry Birds maker Rovio. I could go on.

Pre IPO Groupon employed thousands of people and Facebook had close to a thousand before the public listing too. Currently, there are around 140 people working at Twitter. But the newest cool kid in the block with a billion dollar valuation, Pinterest has only about 30 employees. Clearly, it’s the nature of the business that determines the headcount of the workforce.

Then what defines a startup, you ask? It’s the culture, which again is fluid, changing with the times. The most common customs of which are:

A Challenging Workplace

You’re joining a startup and startups are classic examples of the unpredictability of serendipity.You should be smart enough to know that you are walking into a minefield of sorts. Things will break and you’ll have to pick up the pieces no matter what. A startup job isn’t for those who would like to live by the clock and calendar. Get used to a stopwatch instead.

Flexible Work Hours

Crying babies, feuding in-laws, hangovers, blown fuses, horrible commute – there are so many unpredictable elements to life. It isn’t rational to have a fixed punch-in time when you employ human beings in your workforce. A late register, pay cut, a stinker or a memo are clearly not in the best interests of an employee. Clocking X hours of productive time is what matters in a startup.

Casual Dress Code

There’s hardly any reason for every employee in a company to suit up. A developer or a sys admin might get more done if they are wearing something comfortable, instead of a tie and a leather boot. In a startup, you won’t be sent back home by a ridiculous moron of a boss for not wearing a white shirt on a Monday just like every other drone employed by him.

No Office Politics

When you have real work to do, there won’t be any time to indulge in office politics or grapevine gossip. Now, raise your hand if you haven’t been a victim of politics and egotism in that cushy MNC job. I don’t see many. In startups, everybody is involved in everything and yet, people usually don’t have the time or inclination to sit around and plot the ouster of their competitors.

Flat Hierarchy

There isn’t an army of superiors for you to report to in a startup. In my last MNC job, I was in the dog house for many months for bouncing off some ideas with our CTO. The founder/CEO is your go to guy here. Computer not working? Call the CEO. Need help with the algorithm? Ping the boss. Taking a day off? You get the drift.

The things mentioned above fit the bill of every startup and it fits like a glove for our company, Tenmiles. For a much nicer and comprehensive article explaining the startup ecosystem, you should check out this post by my colleague Vinay. Put both these resources together and you’ll have all the facts in front of you to make an informed decision. All the best!

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