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June 8, 2016
Life at a Tech Start-Up: Three Truths and One Lie
As someone who spent the first several years of her career working in a corporate cubicle, the idea of joining a start-up was intriguing. Like many, I wondered if Hollywood’s depiction of the quintessential start-up had any truth to it. In fact, the week before I joined Sigstr, I remember watching an episode of Silicon Valley and thinking it couldn’t possibly be realistic. As it turns out, the start-up perception isn’t that far from reality. Read on to discover three truths and one lie the world has been told about life at a tech start-up.
TRUTH: Offices are open and casual
The Sigstr office is completely open, adorned with a bright green wall, trendy artwork, and an assortment of desks that are frequently rearranged to make room for our growing team. The thought of cubicles lining our walls is almost laughable. Personal space is not a concept we are particularly familiar with. From my seat, I can easily communicate with anyone in any department. While distractions are frequent, we benefit immensely from the increased level of collaboration.
Scattered about the office, there are a number of items that give the place “character”. In the last few months, almost the entire team has invested in standing desks – partially because we care about out health and partially to fit in. We also own a basketball hoop, popcorn machine, nose whistle, and desk elliptical. Our attire? Take a peak in the dev room and there’s a 100% chance at least one person is wearing a tech tee. In short, we have mastered the “tech” look and are proud of it.
TRUTH: Business is fast-paced and ever-changing
The biggest adjustment I had when moving from a large corporation to a start-up was the pace. Change is rapid at Sigstr, especially in relation to the technology behind our email signature generator. Instead of having to tell customers features won’t be available until next year, we make monumental improvements to the Sigstr application every single day. It’s exciting, overwhelming, and highly satisfying.
To keep up with our evolving email signature generator, employee roles and the Sigstr business model constantly adjust as well. We all wear multiple hats. For example, I’m a Customer Success Manager, but I frequently join sales calls, create product marketing content, and write articles for our blog. As a Sigstr employee, there are endless opportunities to gain experience in a variety of areas.
TRUTH: Every employee matters
The benefit, or perhaps consequence, of being part of a small team is that everyone is expected to contribute in a big way. In a large company, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. At a start-up, every employee has a voice and every individual has the potential to make a lasting impression. It may sound like a line out of an HR pamphlet, but at Sigstr, everyone matters.
To drive the point home, employee impact isn’t limited to each individual’s functional area. There has been multiple scenarios where I’ve suggested application updates to our Product Team and they’ve taken my opinion into consideration. There’s no red tape. No bureaucracy. Just team members working together to create a better email signature generator.
LIE: It’s all fun and games
At the end of last quarter, Sigstr hosted our first ever Sigstr Field Day. The company spent half of a Friday playing whiffle ball and other miscellaneous games. It was glorious. That evening, I told a friend about my day at work. She rolled her eyes and joked about the “difficulty” of my job. While the teasing was lighthearted, the problem was that my friend didn’t know the whole story. Sigstr Field Day was created in celebration of the fact that we had exceeded quarterly goals. Ironically, the day was the RESULT of hard work and dedication. The Sigstr team may have a lot of fun, but the company’s success is always our number one priority.
Beyond the hard work, there’s also a high level of uncertainty in working for a start-up. Sigstr has proven it is a viable business, however, there is a certain level of ambiguity in ongoing strategy and direction. Hard-hitting questions are asked every day. What’s our next step? What features are the most important? Are we targeting the right people? Should we go in a new direction? As a result, big decisions are made that impact the whole team. Anxiety certainly ensues. The only solace is to have faith in the vision and experience of our leadership team.
At the end of the day, working for a start-up is an incredibly challenging, yet rewarding experience. I feel confident in saying that all of my teammates feel lucky to be contributing to the success and growth of Sigstr and our email signature generator. For anyone looking to work hard, diversify their skill-set, and make an impact, the start-up lifestyle might just be the golden ticket.
Interested in joining the Sigstr team? We’re hiring! Check out our open positions here.