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Startups vs Large Corporation? Which one in terms of learning is best for a new grad?

For grads entering the labor market it could get a bit overwhelming. No question that at the end of the day during the first years it is all a matter of learning as fast as possible as opposed to receiving a large payroll. Based on what you have seen what is the best route to follow to acquire the know how faster if you want to be an entrepreneur down the line?


7 Replies

Donavon Urfalian
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Donavon Urfalian Entrepreneur
A.I. Engineer / Entrepreneur / Founder & CEO @ Umazed / Kodo Startups
Hi Itana. You ask a great question. I'd like to offer you my opinion. Go work in a large corporation first because you can get experience while also making money. In your off time, go to meet-ups and learn. Please remember that not everything can be learned as fast as possible because there is a huge different between listening to someone, let's say me right now are you read this, tell you an insight, and for you to acquire the insight through your own experience, skills and character building take time. So, getting back to what I was saying, you can work and get experience, and make money in an established company. In your off time, you can learn the ins and outs of startups, some of the best material is on YouTube, with things like YCombinator, Harvard iLabs, and Reed Hoffman's talks on startups, others include famous investor's like Mark Suster and Jason Calacanis. You being into social media, I'm sure Guy Kawasaki, and Vayberchuk are on your list. I hope that helps. Regards, Donavon.
Scott McGregor
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Scott McGregor Entrepreneur • Advisor
Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.
This is a question of learning style. If you learn best by receiving received wisdom from experts you'll find many more knowledgable managers, instructors and formal training programs at bigger established companies. If you learn best as an independent self taught learner who learns by direct experience an early stage startup can be exhilarating. Scott McGregor, [removed to protect privacy], (408) 505-4123 www.smcgregor.com Sent from my iPhone
Amrik Singh Arora
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Amrik Singh Arora Entrepreneur
Director - Business Development at Starkey Laboratories India Pvt. Ltd.
I joined a small company straight after college, I was assigned to a particular department and did train under the department head, being a small company there were not many departments and strict compartmentalization, I could walk into other areas unrestricted and chat with other employees, this helped me pick up knowledge which ultimately helped me in being an all rounder of sorts, though there is no substitute for specialization. The all round knowledge made me a successful Managing Director of the same Company I had joined as a fresher.
Joseph Wang
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Joseph Wang Entrepreneur
Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories
Whoever is able to pay you a steady salary. For someone fresh out of school, this is more likely to be a big company, but could include a startup that's got traction. But don't sweat this too much. Any experience is better than no experience.

One thing to bear in mind is that a lot of learning involves learning first hand what not to do. A lot of what you will learn will be of the nature "well this is awful, and if I ever run my own company, I'll be sure not to do that."
Martin Omansky
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Martin Omansky Entrepreneur
Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional
I would gain some knowledge and experience first by working for a stable, large corporation.
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Neither. I would say the right management team is more important than the size or stage of the company. That said, If you want to learn what it is like to grow an early stage startup then work for an early-stage startup. Your income is not likely to be maximized and if you want security/stability this is not the best place and unless the management team is experienced you may learn a lot about how not to do things. If you want to acquire broad-based knowledge (sales, product, finance, legal, contracts, HR, business development, project mgt, support, operations, etc.) about what it's like to grow and run a successful company 'the right way' the go work for a rapidly growing company - a 'mature' startup - one that is fully funded and is generating serious profit and has experienced, 'adult supervision' - i.e. an experienced management team. Rapid growth is the key as it presents opportunities to quickly take on new assignments and wear many different hats and maybe make good money on your stock options in addition to your salary and benefits. You also build connections and industry contacts and you can learn from the best in your industry. If you are not getting the opportunity to advance or at least move laterally to try different roles frequently (at least annually) then find a different company. Find a company that you admire that is growing rapidly, that is "entrepreneurial" and do whatever you need to do to get a job there. One word of caution: be careful of companies that seem to be growing too rapidly. Some companies that are growing really fast will bring in any live body that can fog a mirror to fill a need and too often these people move into management. Life if too short to work for a bozo. Don't work for bozos. You will know it when you find an outstanding management team. Those are the ones you want to work for.
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Also, go in with a plan. The most important skills for an entrepreneur (in the tech world) are sales and product development. Make a plan to learn these skills as fast as you can while getting paid for it. If you are an engineer learn sales - go talk to the sales team and see if you can help them close deals as a 'sales engineer' or 'pre-sales engineer'. If you know sales then learn as much about engineering as you can. Get involved in a dev project even if it's helping the product manager or project manager - these are valuable skills. marketing, finance and contracts (legal) are important if you want to start your own company - sales management is a good place to pick up this knowledge (negotiating deals, contract terms, financing, etc.) . Get a management position so you can learn a bit about budgeting, P&L and HR. If your employer buys companies then get involved in these deals however you can - due diligence, post-merger integration, etc. Be a sponge..
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