My experience so far at an early-stage startup has been amazing. I’m learning a ton, working my ass off, and having a ton of fun. Some of the things I like most about it are:
- Responsibility. Having a big impact on the growth of a company vs. being another cog in a wheel. Also having a wide-range of responsibilities.
- Culture/People. I find entrepreneurs and people that work at startups to be the coolest people ever. Not just cool, but also some of the most intelligent and hardworking. Working with others who are extremely talented, passionate about the company’s mission, and driven, is amazing.
- Work Environment. It’s extremely fast-paced and competitive. It’s a roller coaster ride – a lot of ups and downs. Every day is an adventure. And rather then following a process, you’re discovering it.
- Work. The work I do is extremely fun. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.
- Impact. The opportunity to build something innovative and meaningful that can have a lasting effect on society. Not that investment banking doesn’t provide a great service for the economy.
I really love this quote by Krishna Sankar:
“In many ways, working in a startup is like a drug – the agonies of long hours and uncertainties, more than matched by the ecstasies of achievement”
Some people will probably say for money, but they probably don’t realize the probability of getting rich through a startup is really low. Read: The Venture Capital Secret: 3 Out of 4 Start-Ups Fail. For every Foursquare, Facebook and Instagram, there are probably about a million failures that no one hears about. Personally I only want money so I can start more companies or invest in them.
I did love finance for a while, but ultimately it wasn’t for me for a few reasons:
- Finance is more finite than I thought. Less creative and strategic thinking than I thought.
- When investing in public company stock, you’re not investing in companies so much as you’re betting on what other people are going to bet on. It’s a different kind of analysis.
- Getting where you want to at a big company takes a really long time, might never happen at all, or your priorities change, or when you finally get there you’re too old to enjoy it.
- A lot of people didn’t share my passion, they were just interested in money.
What I liked about finance was identifying market opportunities and forecasting growth using psychology, sociology, economics, etc. Entrepreneurship seems to be a better arena for doing that.
I posted a similar answer on Quora to “Why do people want to work at startups?”