Creating a startup is the dream for many different reasons. First, if you create a startup, you are the owner of the company. Second, you will hold most of the equity of the company, which means that you have the potential to make a lot of money if the startup actually turns into a company. Finally, you can gain an incredible amount of experience.
Being the owner of the company has many benefits, but it is also downsides. A benefit is that you make your own hours. If you don’t want to work till 10 am, then you don’t have to. Another benefit is that you are in control of the company. Any decisions being made, you can control them. However, this is also a downside. If you don’t know exactly what to do in a critical situation, and you make the wrong decision, it could destroy your company. This relates to the article of “How I Created A $350 Million Software Company Knowing Nothing About Software.” John Sung Kim, the founder of five9, made a crucial decision for his company. He wanted to make a single server to host a service versus building machines to ship to companies, so five9 could host. Although he chose the correct path, it was against tradition and could have crushed his company. Another downside is that you have to fire people. No one wants to be responsible for firing someone, whether it is “just business” or not.
Another reason that startups are the rage at the moment is the ability to make a lot of money. My brother just founded a company with his really good friend. He went to school for finance, so he really wanted to run a company. But, he was also telling me how much potential there is in owning a company. If his company grows into what he plans, he’ll have the option to never work again. However, the downside is that his company could fail. If his company fails, he will have no money and will have to start a new career.
The last reason to launch a startup, is to gain a lot of experience. In “Beware of the Silicon Valley cult” by Ross Williamson, Williamson cites Dan Luu when talking about startups. Luu says “Startups are the only way to get 20 years of experience in five.” Williamson agrees and disagrees with this approach of joining or launching a startup. Williamson agrees, yes someone will gain more experience than they ever would compared to working in a big tech company. However, Williamson disagrees with startups because someone might not necessarily need the knowledge of running a business if they work at a big company after their startup. I disagree with Williamson on this point. Although you will not be required to know how the business side works of a large company, it will be beneficial for everyone if you do.
The thought of a startup did factor into my employment decision. I worked for Ford this pass summer, and I really enjoyed it. However, there were a few things I disliked about working for a large company. I did end up accepting an offer with Ford, but I was really considering going to a startup. I contacted a Notre Dame Alumni and we talked about how to analyze the situation, and we had a lot of the same views. Their career path was working at a big company for a couple years, getting tired of it, then they joined a startup. I figured this would be my approach too because I’m still not sure what I really want to do in computer science. Ford has a rotational program that will allow me to see 3 different technology areas of the company. Ford is also doing so many different areas of IT, that I could essentially have several different careers within Ford if I choose.
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