Is Working at a Start Up better for my career than a Large Company?

We believe that a start up increases career equity more than a larger company. Value is somewhat based on perception, and the perception in the market is that only the top 20 percentile quality people can work at a start up.

Data Points:

Working with people better than you brings out your best.

Which reference do you think will be more valuable? Paul Buchheit or Joe Blow from Acme Big Company?

You get more experience and have more accountability at a start up, which translates to more accomplishments.

Start ups are typically ahead of the curve with respect to up to date tools and technology. The more leading edge your skill set the less people to compete with and therefore more opportunities.

Bottom Line: If you are motivated to get up in the morning and get to work on your project, you are in a good situation. But for maximum career value, work in a start up.

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5 Responses to “Is Working at a Start Up better for my career than a Large Company?”

  1. What about “the” big company. Say Google or Microsoft versus a start-up?

  2. Caveat: this advice is skewed to those interested in working at early stage, start up companies.

    Working for the leaders in their field is valuable. Especially as a junior contributor, it will be very hard to get into a great startup. In that case those companies are great stepping stones.

    It breaks down like this, how a company is perceived in the marketplace will open doors for you if it has high prestige. Coming from a Google versus a non VC funded startup is better as it will get you in the door for an interview. That said, usually a start up will give you 5x more experience and accomplishments than a large company (Google may be the exception). So what drives your value in the market is what you have done and the skills you have acquired. Startups usually win that battle.

  3. Hi there,
    I am a Start Up guy at this moment.
    And also doing a day’s job(my partner does the same way) to run our start up in bootstrapping mode.

    I require a suggestion from you :

    I know the reasons why am i into entrepreneurship,know all the best possibilities as well but just one thought disturbs me a bit.
    If unfortunately things don’t turn my way then what ?
    I mean,whatever i am doing parallely with my job will be credible to “XYZ” employer or not ?

    By the way,i am 21 right now,an engineer by profession.
    I majorly handle the creative department,UI designing,concept branding,marketing and HR sections of my startup.My partner handles the rest.

  4. Prashant, I can only answer the question from the perspective of the US market. A startup will provide you with more experience than a larger company. The smaller the company the more accountability and responsibility you will have. The bottom line determining your value in the market, is what have you accomplished. In a software or web context, this means what have you built and shipped. If you and a small team bring a credible product to market, that is a much greater accomplishment than someone who works in a group of 50 to build a small piece of a product.
    Since you are still working and building your startup after your day job is finished, I see no downside. Either your project is successful and you can quit your day job to devote to the startup full time or you made a good try that failed, yet you still have your day job. Either way you are going to have much more experience than those only working at big company X. therefore you will have more career options available to you in the future. I hope this answered your question. If not, let me know whay else you want to know.
    Good luck to you and keep up the great effort.

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