Hackernoon logoWhat Developers Should Expect From Working in a Startup by@overgear

What Developers Should Expect From Working in a Startup

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Overgear is a worldwide gaming platform

We continue sharing our team's ideas and opinions. This time we talked with Alexey Simatov, our senior developer. He has come a long way and gained profound career experience in both startup and corporate.

Choosing a new place of work, people usually have lots of questions about the future employers, what can I get from working with them, what can I give in return. The choice is usually between startups and big companies.

Developers are not an exception here. We also try to find the best option to apply our skills. Having worked in a big company, and then in several startups, I drew conclusions and now I want to share my observations.

Having joined Epam as a junior developer, in two years I grew to the lead of one of the product team, gained great frontend experience. Then I realized that I wanted to try myself in a startup because in companies all processes are super bureaucratic, monotonous tasks don't give an opportunity for self-actualization, there is no possibility of changes, impact on the product. You may get the idea that I'm for startups and against working in companies. Don't rush to conclusions.

Startups have their own specific features, about which I'll tell you now.

FYI, speaking about some features of startups and giving examples, I'll often refer to my most recent work experience, startup Overgear.

My experience of working in a startup

Startups are projects at the beginning of their development. Due to the small code base and constant growth of the app, everyone can participate in creating the architecture, use modern approaches and libraries, and develop new functionality from scratch. In Overgear, developers work both with the frontend and backend, create unit tests, maintain a storybook. Anyone has the opportunity to deal with such important tasks as performance, design system, or microservices.

Another feature of the startup is that developers have close contact with the C-level executives. There is constant communication with the founders, the developers can take part in the development of hypotheses, see the business problems and how they are solved. In addition, you can immediately see the feedback on the implementation of a new feature and what impact it has on the project.

What to choose for your career: startup or corporate?

Students or junior developers couldn't get into the startup. Because startups usually need specialists who can quickly solve problems, bring their knowledge to the project, and who can work without control and mentoring.

In companies, there is a larger team, work processes are well organized, usually, there're training programs for young workers. It is often a good opportunity for students or junior developers to go to such companies just for the experience, to learn best company practices.

If we take middle and senior developers then they have much more opportunities and can choose between startups and big companies. Startups usually provide more freedom in decision making, modern approaches, more diverse tasks, and, in general, more opportunities for self-realization. There is no bureaucracy, developers are closer to management and product.

Big companies usually have more stability, may have better conditions (salary, office, compensation for training, sports), organized workflow (this is both bad and good), a large team, and a codebase. To add, it depends on the team, but generally, there is less freedom, because changes require more time and money. Therefore, most often you have to work with what you have. Finally, if the company is well-known and has a good brand it can be prestigious to work there, at least a good line in your CV.

Work conditions in startups

Startups do not provide a lot of perks and benefits, unlike big companies. There may not be payments for learning English or training, and maybe you will have to have your own work equipment. But all these are just nice bonuses, and usually, in startups, it's compensated in salaries or will be compensated in the future with the growth of the startup.

Schedule and remote work

Startups often allow their employees to work remotely as it saves on office costs. A freer schedule is another feature of startups. It sounds great but you should take into consideration whether it's convenient for you to work from home or not. Speaking about some disadvantages, a teamwork schedule can vary greatly due to time zones.

For example, in one of my projects, the team was formed of developers from California, the Netherlands, Poland, and Russia. Everyone could get together either in the morning or in the evening and it was quite challenging. But in Overgear, my current workplace, the team is concentrated in Russia and Ukraine, so no problems with the work schedule appear. And here you can work both from the office and remotely.

Distribution of roles in the team

Startups don't have a big team. Often there is no tester, business analyst, and scrum master. Therefore, the developer's functions are blurred, they have to understand the business requirements, then implement the functionality and test it.

In addition, at startups, the processes have not been organized yet, and the documentation is kept to a minimum. Many issues are resolved personally, without filling out many forms and going through the chains of approvals. As a result, no bureaucracy exists.

Let's not forget about risks

Startups are projects that have not yet proven their worth. They depend on investments, their market share is small, and they can be far from the level of return. Looking for a job in startups, it is important to understand what growth a startup shows and how reliable its investors are.

The investor did not see the desired result and abandoned the project, there was a crisis in the industry, the idea did not meet with a response in the market, or a strong competitor appeared - all of these issues are just a few reasons for closing the project.

At the previous startup, I started working at the end of 2019, the project was in the field of tourism. In the spring of 2020, there was a global crisis, the startup was without the opportunity to earn money, investments quickly ended, and there were no new ones. So, always remember about risks. Overgear here compares favorably with several investors, revenue, and project growth.

Nevertheless, well-qualified developers are still in demand, and project closure shouldn't be a disaster for you. And the gained experience will be useful in other companies as well.

Final Thoughts

Startups offer a wide variety of experiences: technical, managerial, and business. Here you can self-actualize as much as you want, get instant feedback from the implementation of your features, fast-track your career and participate in product development. Despite these positive points, you should remember that startups are unstable. Many processes are not yet organized, and the quality of the code is less than ideal.


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