5 ways to tell you work for a start-up

Guest Blogging for the Team – Liz Callahan

You know you work for a start-up when…

1.  Your sign-on bonus is a giant bag o’watches:  Start-up pay doesn’t always match up with one’s “market value”. As a new Berkeley-Haas MBA, I saw all my friends getting offers from well-established corporations. I would hear folks say – thankfully my bonus will pay off all my student loans or here comes my tuition reimbursement check! Working for a start-up has some major benefits (see below), and you decide to join because those offerings are worth much more to you than the early paychecks.

2.  Your “office” moves on a daily basis:  We may not be building computers in Aaron’s garage, but we’re close!

One of the things I like about the start-up environment is the flexibility with your workspace. I don’t have to head into the big city, take the elevator to the 11th floor, and sit in a cubicle all day – that life just isn’t for me. For some folks, it works – but I enjoy being able to meet with Aaron at a coffee shop, my apartment, or digitally if I want to spend a little time out of town. This is just one of the benefits I referenced above.

3.  You (a 30-year old) get interviewed by an 18-year old with a (wicked) tattoo on his chest:  Team is key to a start-up; in fact, it is arguably more important than the idea. When I interviewed with Modify, I spoke with every member of the team – to include Sean the Intern. I took no offense to him asking about my work style, background, or thoughts on the company’s future. On the country – when you are going to be working so closely with such a small group, these are exactly the types of things you want/need to know. It was just as important for him to feel that I was a fit with the team as it was for Aaron to think I had the skills to fill the role.

4.  There is no end to the day…or start for that matter:  Start-ups work on their own schedule. That can mean having meetings straight from 8 in the morning until after dinner or randomly taking the morning off to do some P90X. The schedule is flexible, but the work is always there — and, I love being able to decide when to do it.  It may mean leisurely working in the evening as I watch NCIS (such a good show…and not just for the 50+ demographic – I promise) after putting in a solid 10 hours. Because, when you work for a start-up, I would hope that you are working as much out of passion as anything else — the ability to see your efforts pay off immediately is a pretty awesome reward.

5.  You get to wear board shorts to the office:  When I was in the Army (and yes, I know my flight helmet looks a bit large, I have a small face, ok!),

I always told my friends that I wanted a job that allowed  me to wear board shorts. Now, while some would imagine that meant being a professional surfer,

I meant the sort of work environment that wasn’t all buttoned up.  California casual is a great thing and start-ups get to take it even one more step.  Seriously, getting to wear my Converse to meetings = success in my book.




  1. Rasty says:

    Just discovering this blog…AMAZING! I really like this post LC. And I love that I was there for your surfer pic. I’m sporting the Modify on the Sony Pics lot…comments as usual. I am pretty sure I’ll NEVER see someone famous, but in the event I do, my #1 thought will be (did I wear my Modify today???) XOXO

  2. monkeysmama says:

    WHAT?! You are only 30?! UGH. I feel so, so old.

    Totally digging your helo pic =)

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