What it's like to work at a startup

Add 1 part idea, 1 part ambition, 5 parts effort and 5 parts actually caring. Stir over heat for a few years. Results may vary.

I imagine this is something like what the founder and first few people on board must feel like in any startup. Deciding to make a cake, adding the ingredients and then following some vague instructions which they made up along to way to see just what kind of delicious treat they can muster. I have been lucky enough to jump onboard the team at Vend somewhere around the middle of the baking process and two years in it looks like something really tasty is rising in the Vend oven.

There are a bunch of really great things about working with this team of people which I think any startup can learn from.

  • People are your best asset. Nothing is going to work without smart, passionate and dedicated people who are willing to put in the hard yards so they can share in the wins. Get your people invested, any and every way you can.
  • Listen to your users. Vend could be building the best POS no retailer ever wanted to use if we didn’t listen to the users and really take on-board what they want and need.
  • Don’t forget to have fun. If there is any time a company can have fun and lay exactly the kind of path they want to be strolling on it has to be in the early days.

And it’s everyone’s job description to bring delight to our users any and every time we can.

In another more traditional industry where I might be given a limited range of options with which to carry out my support role (because hey that sounds too hard, too time consuming, too “not how I would do it so why should you”), here I am empowered to do whatever it takes to get the job done and come out with a happy customer (and this makes a happy support person) so it’s a win all round. Hiring support people shouldn’t be an exercise of finding people who will best follow rules rather, who is best at breaking them and bending them with the ultimate goal in mind. Being encouraged to work this way is extremely satisfying.

Finally to sum up the day to day perks of being part of a young company making its own way - loud office music, lots of coffee and lollies, standup meetings and people working freely together are awesome. Cubicles, hierarchy, bureaucracy and closed doors are not, and are nowhere to be seen here.