ID @ Tech start-up

Does/has anyone work for a tech start-up as a seasoned industrial designer(10+ years of experience)? Curious about your experience as it relates to culture, development pace, compensation, work/life balance in that field…

not silicon valley, but I did a short stint where we (12 people) launched a couple products on crowdfunding sites, one successfully the other two not so much. The success got picked up by a corp. and I followed it.
like most anywhere Cost and Schedule are paramount, ID can only win arguments to oppose those primary objectives if you can really prove that the value proposition is being damaged. That said, feature creep is the next biggest problem and you have to fight those battles the same way. So brush up on your public speaking skills.
Product development aside, you have to wear a lot of different hats, be the marketing dept in some discussions, be the sourcing guy in others
You design anything and everything (like office interiors and company swag) and literally push a broom every week.
Personality matters, the relationships get strained with a lot of arguments getting overheated. A thick skin and great team spirit are must haves. We did Agile and Lean of course and working 60 hour weeks during sprints is standard, but if your not one of the principles the pay at buyout is the same as salaried work.
it’s exhilarating, but if you got a wife and or kids I don’t recommend it

@no_specs thank you for sharing your experience. Super insightful on so many points.
I’m generalizing but starting to think similar cultures are shared across all types of start-ups where the hustle and bustle can lead to a real burnout. It’s also exciting to think about joining a team that’s rapidly growing with many possibilities and making an impact but I’m also not in my 20s anymore so more than hesitant to jump into that pace. I do have a husband and an infant so yeah, rethinking the whole start-up proposition.

Your assumptions are correct. However one start up can be very different from another depending on the people and their experience. I would say interview with them but really do your research and ask the right questions:

  • evaluate their background and experience
  • evaluate their roadmap, schedule, timelines, etc.
  • evaluate the maturity of their product and development so far
  • ask if the immediate goal is to raise more funds or try to get it to market (or both)
  • evaluate the design team or lack off, as well as any plans of growing the team, etc.

As a seasoned designer you should be able to see how organized or chaotic things will be
Pay is subjective but I would say better including stock options, cash incentives, bonuses, etc.
Work pace would definitely be faster than an established/corporate job. Work/life balance will not be great
Last minute opportunities to show investors progress will definitely affect pace, deliverables, development (or lack off).
Culture will depend and vary on startup. You will see a lot of talented people & probably on the younger side.

Good luck.