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Conversation With A Ruby Developer… Is Working For A Startup Risky

Startup Venture Loft Minneapolis Open House

A few weeks ago at the Startup Venture Loft open house I was introduced to a Ruby Developer who was there to network and see what the startup community is like in Minneapolis. They work for a really large company in town and are looking to see what other companies and work environments are like.

This was a new experience for them.

After giving them a sort of high level view of the community, who is doing what, who I know to be hiring, strengths and weaknesses of the culture, etc. I was asked the one question I am always asked:

Is working for a startup risky?

And my usual quick and blunt answer is:


And my follow up answer to that is:

And there is risk working for your current really large company too.

There is risk going to work anywhere including for yourself… so think about  your risk tolerance.

Here is how I pitch this to IT folks looking at my clients (most of whom are startups and smaller tech companies):

- I know between revenue and funding we have about “x” months cash

- We are using “this” technology, here are the new things you are going to play with and this is how it will you in your career path

- The CEO and other members of the team have “this” kind of a network

- I know a few folks too

So your worse case is in “x” months/years this thing implodes, you will have learned “this” technology and greatly expanded your skill set and have “this” kind of a network to fall back on to help you find your next gig.

Is this really that risky?

And is this really any more risky than staying where you are?

If it is then don’t think about.

Here’s the deal… we have had a number of large “safe” employers in town lay off or outsource IT staff in the past 12 months. So let’s not pretend that Fortune 500 or publicly traded equals job security.

My pitch is not pro startups and anti BIG companies… my pitch is career path, technology used, skill set growth and risk tolerance.

Compare apples to oranges… make a decision that feels good to you.

Here is a post from a year ago with a similar conversation:


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The Cheerios people just retired a bunch of finance people last week. Every job is a temp job. Not original but true...

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