I was at a kick off party recently and one of the heated topics we had among ourselves was the idea of putting in your hours as a programmer. One of the trends we see a lot with start ups is that the founders usually have years and years of experience at very prominent companies. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read a Tech Crunch article that starts with “ex-Googler [insert name] launches …”.
The people discussing the topic, however, were a mixture of sapling versions of these entrepreneurial archetypes(i.e. big company entrepreneurs and straight out of college entrepreneurs). We had several who were working for large companies, and even more that, with only a few years of programming, have devoted themselves to the start up lifestyle. Being at such a young stage, none of us really have a strong stand on the position. The reality was that any of us can switch tracks at any moment and not really suffer any real consequences.
Personally, I found myself siding more and more with the big company entrepreneurs. From my view, big companies offer a security that start ups don’t have. By this I don’t just mean funding, but they also offer business segmentation and mentorship. Since big companies are so segmented, the business side and the technical side are usually very evidently split.
As a young programmer that’s something that I truly come to value. This split allows me to focus on gaining technical experience and not focus so much on the business aspect of a project.
I’m a big follower of having many tools in your tool box when it comes to programming. After two or three years at a big company the technical side won’t be an issue for your start up and instead you can free up time for the business aspect. To me, that seems like the ideal route.