The 500-person Startup

article-0-0D904FFD00000578-493_634x423

HubSpot now has 600+ employees, yet, until recently, everyone you talked to said they worked "at a startup."

The Hollywood image of a startup looks like two disheveled people working late nights in a tiny apartment; ramen, Red Bull, thick-rimmed glasses. When we think of Silicon Valley startups, we think of seed-funded 20-year-olds in a beautiful office space; standing desks, coffee, NERF guns.

HubSpot is neither of those. The company is over 7 years old, has raised $100M over 4 rounds, and is doing millions in revenue. Yet every person who worked here self-identified as an employee of a startup.

I find that fascinating. It means that people approached their job with the same kind of passion, ownership and pride as employees at a much smaller company. It means that hires felt inspired to drive change and empowered to do it without political bullshit weighing them down. And they're doing this without much legal ownership of the company or insanely large paychecks.

That may sound exploitive, but it doesn't feel like that from the inside. Employees are knowingly sacrificing things for the chance to learn, grow and have impact. Or maybe it's that we're just excited to be working at one of Boston's most lauded companies. Regardless of the reason, maintaining that kind of culture for so long is incredibly powerful. When employee #499 works like she's employee #10, the company can create anything together.

Sadly, I've started to notice some of that power fade. Perhaps it's inevitable, but it's amazing that the fire burned so hot for so long. I think it's what's contributed to the company's unique culture and relentlessness, and I'm sure they'll tackle these growing pains in an appropriately HubSpotty way.