Should I join this startup?

I’m a 3+ years experienced Software Engineer in India and have been working currently in my 2nd company from last 1.2 years. I’m fed up of my current job because although they are paying me well but there’s nothing to learn here. The The quality of work is really bad here and quantity is also less. Also, whatever work I’ve done, I feel a lot like being undervalued and underestimated in this organization. My team lead is also a bit like dictator who doesn’t want to listen to any suggestion and just want to hear “YES SIR” everytime. I’ve been sitting idle in my office because of very less work and that too of low quality and have just been doing either freelancing work or job preparation in my office time.

Then, I got in touch with the 12+ years experienced manager of my previous organization who left that organization and joined a new company (say startup) belonging to his friend. This manager is one of the smartest and intelligent persons I’ve ever worked with. Although his startup has headquarters in Dubai and they have also been operating in some African country from last 15 years. But they just launched a development centre in India last year and my previous manager has become the director of that centre and has been expanding his team last year. He asked me last year to consider joining his organization full time or can consider part-time freelancing. I rejected the idea of full time but has been freelancing from last 6 months for him and TBH, I didn’t learn that much in my current organization in these 1.2 years and learned a lot in freelancing work in these 6 months . He still ask me to consider joining him full time and promised me a better pay and better work. He told me that their products are highly scalable and has been used by millions of users in African countries. He further told me that he is having a lack of resources and some of the candidates which he selected ran away after getting a better package ( by using his offer) from other companies.

Although I want to join him but there are 2 doubts in my mind:

  1. He is Muslim and I observed that 90% (or even more) of the employees in his organization are Muslims. I’m a Hindu and my father (who is an extreme Hindu) warned me not to trust such organization as according to him, I being a minority, can fall prey to something bad when the office will be opened after lockdown.

  2. I’m not sure whether he will pay my salary on time or not as the India development centre has just opened.

So, I’m confused whether I should join his organization or not. What will you guys suggest? Please don’t consider me as having anything against Muslims. It’s just that I find this slightly awkward.

It’s not really a startup if it’s an established business. Regarding salary, it’s based on the contract you sign. And if there is something dodgy there that makes you think you wouldn’t be paid: there isn’t enough information to offer advice on that.

Regarding the other point. I understand why you say it, that are very strong cultural mores at play here, and very strong family pressures.

If I was to say: “I’m not racist, I don’t have anything against black people, but I’d find working with them slightly awkward”. Or “I don’t have anything against jews, but I’d find working with them slightly awkward”. Or “I’m not sexist, but I’d find working with women slightly awkward”. That’s not going to fly.

I live in the UK, I’m white, male, in a fairly privileged position, with no religion. There are similar societal pressures, but they’re squashed or hidden (or even mandated against by law). And so it’s really easy for me to say “well, your father’s a racist, ignore him”, see:

The bad thing, in this case, would seem to be that one of those employees is like your father and acts on their prejudice :man_shrugging:t3:

But I’m not in your position, I don’t have to worry [as much] about what you’re worrying about.

  • you are enthused about this job and you have been doing work for your contact in the organisation for some time. Do you trust him? You seem to.
  • putting aside your father’s distrust of a huge, amorphous section of the population, does it make any real difference whatsoever to you what religion the other employees follow? It’s a software company, you’re there to build software, not, I assume, evangelise a religion.
  • if there is something off contract-wise, if you may be getting screwed on pay, or if there is not and it looks fine, base your decision on that. People may be very conscientious about pay or try to screw you over on pay regardless of what religion they say they follow

So far starters, if the company has been around for 15 years, and is expanding into your area, its probably not a startup anymore as it should be sustaining its own growth through its own business rather than investment. Its possible that its actually still in “startup growth mode”, but it doesn’t sound like it is. Regardless, it wont fall into any of the common “failure” buckets startups can fall into as its lasted 15 years, i should stick around for a while longer.

So besides the two doubts in your mind, I’d say this is a great opportunity. It sounds like you know the person trying to get you on their team, and have been in contact with this person a while. You also have already worked for this person in a limited capacity through freelance work, and aren’t running for the hills. It also like the manager is upfront and honest with your with the work shortages he is having due to other workers going off to get better pay.

So this leaves your 2 main doubts, I’ll go over them in reverse order.

I’m not sure how your getting paid for you freelance work, or if this is done through a different system. However, this is something you could bring up as a concern for joining this company. Lets say you wouldn’t get paid due to things still getting setup, then it could be a deal breaker, and means you will continue to just freelance until things are setup, or at least make your own decision in the process. I see no reason you can’t voice this concern with your contact ahead of time to get more information.

I consider this the most more important and pressing question you should focus on addressing and understanding, as culture fit is a thing. Not so much in the traditional sense “you need to be like us to work with us”, but more of an underlying thing that can affect you own personal well being. You can be working at a successful company, not 100% hate your co-worker, get paid well, and still not feel comfortable working there for whatever reason. Such reasons could be as simple as not believing in your work itself, IE its busy work that doesn’t help anyone. Or be as subtle as possible underlying biases existing in multiple places at work and permeating through the company.

A sense of belonging can be forged, or it could not be and never be found, thus making you feel more uneasy while working, or all the way to the point of feeling possibly threatened. Regardless I’d consider this of similar importance as more traditional indicators like how much your paid. You can be paid well, but if you hate your work environment it usually isn’t good for your well being even if you bring in a big check at the end of the month.

So for your situation, its really your decision and how you feel about working with these people. There isn’t a right or wrong answer when its essentially subjective to how you feel about working with an organization that is largely from a different culture/religion. The main thing to understand is no one is in any place to actually give you an objective reason as to if you’d fit in this company, as its a subjective decision on your part.

Yes its possible your father is right, and there might be something bad that happens to you due to underlying biases, or even blatant biases. So there may be risk, however how much risk and how you’d take those possibilities is your own decision, or at least it should be. I’d recommend looking more into the situation, and possibly talking with your contact about these concerns to either get more information to understand the real risk, or ease your mind with more information. You can also look into the organization more to see if you can find other contacts you can ask for their experience about working for this company and get a better idea of its culture.

The thing with biases is that they can be useful in making quick decisions on limited information. The sort of situations where there might be a tiger in a bush nearby about to jump and eat you. Its how humans lived and survived for thousands of years before civilization. However, in today’s world such biases can become hindrances to critical thinking, where you want to make the best decision based on what is logically the best choice, rather than whatever your inner biases tell you is the best choice at a glance. Understanding that feeling, and focusing on known facts, and gaining more information on the topic is key to making the best logical decision beyond your own biases. Sure its still possible your well thought out and executed decision explodes in your face, but at least you did your work on the subject to the best you can and did what you thought is right after spending a bunch of time determining such.

Good luck, keep learning, keep building :+1:

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