Reconsidering Startups - Letter to a Young Programmer Considering a Startup

Posted by Bill Cushard on February 26, 2014

by Bill Cushard (@BillCush), ServiceRocket, speech delivered by Alex Payne at Monktoberfest 2013

Since he wrote his popular blog post, Letter to a Young Programmer Considering a Startup, Alex Payne responded to numerous questions from readers who were deciding whether to join startups, take jobs with larger more established companies, or stay in school. Alex responds to these questions by asking why the person wants to join a startup or start their own company. More often, the responses frequently come back with phrases like, “entrepreneurship is in my blood.”

In other words, more and more, people are choosing to start companies or join startups seemingly just for the sake of it or because it is a sexy career move. Payne is uneasy about these reasons for joining startups. “People are fulfilled by their work when they operate with a sense of purpose,” says Payne in his blog post.

Because of the overwhelming interest in this blog post, it became the subject of more than one talk, including his Monktoberfest talk.

A Sense of Purpose

When you begin to watch this talk, you're expecting Payne to talk you out of joining a startup. But this is really not the case. It’s not that Payne is trying to convince young programmers to join a startup or not join a startup. In fact, he just wants these young programmers to make this career decision with their eyes wide open and with a sense of purpose.

In other words, the goal is not “to join a startup.” The goal should be to “develop software that solves a particular problem,” and starting one’s own company would be a means to accomplish that goal. It may be that joining a large company or a non-profit could be way to accomplish that goal for some people. The point is to focus on a purpose, goals, or mission when making career decisions.


Robert Castaneda, ServiceRocket Founder/CEO

Our CEO, Rob Castaneda, On Starting His Own Company

Starting a company is an experience that has changed my life. My early bosses were very supportive of me doing so and in turn that has moulded me to be the same of the staff that we have worked with over the years. I can easily count over a dozen businesses that have been started by former team members, and it is something that I am proud of. On one side of the spectrum an employer wants to keep their team together and would actively encourage against individuals leaving to start their own companies. To me though, I feel that this would be closed-minded. Heck, who I am to hold someone back from their dreams or passions that could be bigger than what we are doing.This trust has paid off on both ends. Some have gone on to create successful companies, some have become great customers, and others have tried and then returned with the experience and the appreciation of what it is that is special about what we are doing.

I have told my team repeatedly that someday I hope to work for one of them.

The main thing is that people understand what is involved - there are fairy tale stories out there and just enough of them are true to keep us all spellbound.




Topics: Tech, Start-ups, Monktoberfest, Ideas

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