A few years ago, I sat across the table from a recent college grad who was hoping to secure a BDR spot at a startup I worked at. His enthusiasm was infectious, his optimism high. We were talking about the role, and why he was excited about our company and then he hit me with this:
“You never know, this could be the next Facebook!”
While living in NYC and working for a startup, I saw startup fever firstand. The WeWork offices, MacBook Pro with stickers from some tech-yoga weekend retreat, “Hustle” shirts and seemingly unlimited VC money was more than just a meme, it was real and thriving. Telling someone you worked for a startup, at least from my experience, had sucked up the cool factor that once belonged to: “I work at Goldman”.
It was a funny world to be a part of because people really did think a plucky French tech company could grow to be a Facebook. You just had to be the Uber of X or the Airbnb of Y. (Recently I suggested a buddy name his fitness app UberFitBnb for maximum startup cred.)
And it went around and around, thousands of people obsessed with turning a hemp sneaker or a dating app for (insert demographic) into a multi-billion dollar business. The more I was around it, the keg-equipped offices and foosball tables, the more it felt silly.
Besides the obvious hilarity of startup culture, something felt off and unexamined and I’d argue it’s this: startup culture puts such a premium on massive wealth and growth that we’ll miss out on plenty of brilliant, sustainable opportunities that will still pay well.
Don’t get me wrong and peg me as a pessimist, if you have the next Uber or Snapchat ruminating in your mind, go for it and don’t let anyone stop you. But if you’re sitting with the idea that you may be able to make an extra $40k on the side or buy out a small business and draw a comfortable salary, don’t let anyone stop you either.
It may not be as sexy as a VC-backed Brooklyn startup, but you can bet there are plenty of millionaires working out of the industrial park just down the street from you, the ones who saw a great opportunity and ran with it.