The Curbed Chronicles are my attempt to share a few lessons learned from the early days of Curbed.com.
To set the stage, I wrote a rather lengthy, navel-gazing first post about The Road Trip that Started it All, with the obvious but crucial observation: start a company with people you trust & admire. I followed this up with Taking the Plunge. I’ll conclude this rambling series with one obvious and one perhaps-not- so-obvious lesson learned (you decide which is which).
5. Don’t be a Jerk
File this one under Lessons Learned in Kindergarten that Could Bear Repeating. Often. The world is full of people who act like jerks in the office. I’m sure you’ve worked with them before. They made your day-to-day miserable. Did you found or join a start up in hopes of working with more? No and neither did your colleagues. Can working at a startup be frustrating? Yes. Enough to drive you crazy at times and say things you regret? You bet. Solution: figure out a way to treat people with respect while still having a backbone. It can be done. My colleagues remind me of this daily. Love them.
6. Don’t Quit Your Day Job – Yet
For the first couple of years of Curbed, the founding team retained our day jobs, dedicating night and weekend hours to our so-called aggressive hobby (fully disclosed to employers). During that time, (although some of us may not have been dating much or going to the gym) we were able to build traffic and grow revenues, which helped us raise angel funding. Importantly, we also strengthened our conviction in the viability of the business and our ability to work together, both of which have helped solidify our foundation ever since.
As a result of this experience, I’m a big fan of keeping your day job at least through some viability proof point. As are others. In addition to a steady salary and benefits, often your day job can provide professional development opportunities, especially if you’re a younger entrepreneur.
When Lock, Eliot and I started Curbed, there was an obvious a bucket for everyone: editorial, tech, operations. Today Josh Albertson runs the operations side of the house as General Manager. While this is a role I could probably do if push came to shove, it’s a role I gave up by keeping my day job and not joining the company full time when we raised angel funding. Thank goodness I did. Josh is awe-some. Having Josh there to ensure the theoretical trains run on time, on the right tracks, and with the right balance of fuel, cargo and liability insurance, allows me to focus on what’s going on away from the station. I’ve never been happier professionally and I attribute that to my amazing colleagues and working with them to craft a role for me that suits my strengths, my intellectual interests, and the company’s needs.
Read more about joining a startup in The Business of Tech.