Date
13 December 2017
David Lai (center, on stage) said positive thinking, lots of passion and willingness to take risk and bring changes are some of the qualities that best fit in with the startup environment. Photo: internet
David Lai (center, on stage) said positive thinking, lots of passion and willingness to take risk and bring changes are some of the qualities that best fit in with the startup environment. Photo: internet

What is it like to work for startups?

In a sharing of experiences on Facebook by a group of management trainees, David Lai talks about what it’s like to work for GoGoVan, one of the biggest local startups.

Summing up his experience, he says: “Startup equates to uncertainty.”

Startup is a place where everything is happening at the same time and usually there is no one to tell you exactly what to do. In many cases, if you discover a problem, you have to figure out the answer yourself.

There is also no such thing as a clear career path, Lai said, it’s all up to the trainee to find one or craft one.

One thing is for sure, the situation changes quickly.

“Today, if a fresh round of financing is closed, tomorrow, the company may need someone to start a new overseas office,” says Lai.

So one has to be very flexible. As a startup evolves, it’s going to need different talent and different people at different stages.

If you are a self-starter, and you don’t mind working overtime and are always eager to learn new stuff, startup could just be the right place for you.

“Startups are full of opportunities, and they can pop up anytime, anywhere, because new problems surface everday, and someone has to fix them,” says Lai.

“Precisely because it is a startup, there are always endless things that need to be improved. Overtime is the norm. But if you are eager to learn, you would enjoy OT rather resent it.”

In Lai’s case he spotted a problem with certain workflow. He talked it over with his senior and was given some resources and a mandate to come up with a better idea. He did just that.

The chance to bring changes is in fact one of the biggest draws for startup people.

There will be doubts and testing moments.

“Before joining a startup, you must ask yourself if you really like the product ideas of the company so much? Do you have absolute faith in the founders?” he says.

Founders may not always agree among themselves. There could be cashflow difficulties from time to time, and the company could suddenly lose its direction.

Unless one has “blind faith” in the founders and unfailing passion, there would always be “1,000 reasons to leave”.

“Don’t ask what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company,” Lai says. “The more time and energy you are willing to give, the more opportunities you will be given, then rewards follow.”

In a bit over one year, Lai has worked in almost all the departments, and is now a product manager.

From a 600 square foot office and about two dozen employees, the van-calling app now occupies a 5,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Hong Kong and has opened branches in China, Taiwan and South Korea.

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CG

EJ Insight writer

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