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Creating Impact as One of the First Hires in a Startup

Building A Team
Handling Promotion
New Manager

24 March, 2022

Brice Lagroy de Croutte
Brice Lagroy de Croutte

VP of Engineering at AB Tasty

Brice Lagroy de Croutte, VP of Engineering at AB Tasty, shares his experience getting hired at a startup as the seventh employee and becoming the VP of engineering.

Joining a Startup as the Seventh Employee

I was hired as the seventh employee at a company I worked for. Now the organization has over 250 employees and continues to grow. I started as a developer, moved to become a small team leader, and now have become a VP of engineering. Through the progression, I became more self-aware and learned about the inner workings of a company.

Beginning my career, I knew I wanted to work within a startup. I had previous experience as a developer in a startup that closed and connected with a CEO through LinkedIn. My initial interview took place at a bar with the CEO and co-founder. The co-founder and I had a far-off familial relationship, as I realized her last name was the same as my grandmother's. I leveraged my connection to build a relationship with the co-founder and finally landed the role.

Moving From Developer to Team Lead

Starting as a Developer:

The company began hiring once it became successful enough to compensate employees. I was one of these lucky candidates, but I quickly realized that they lacked software and tools for their developers. I was a bit surprised as my previous role in a startup was more up-to-date regarding the tech we used.

I was constantly impressed that our company could keep such large clients with old-school tools and coding. As we began having more and more success, we began recruiting a few more developers. To compensate for the new employees, I stepped up to become a manager of the small team.

Being a New Manager:

My management experience was overall very positive. The team grew to become a technical group of 10-15 developers. As it grew, I realized that my company was hiring more technically skilled individuals than I was. This may have led to some discernment, but I knew that I wasn't required to be the most senior engineer in the room as a tech lead.

During this time, I worked to broaden my skill set. Rather than being highly skilled in one department or area, I opened myself up to other areas to become a more versatile leader. I believe that I preferred the role of a manager because of my adaptability; I could hire the experts rather than be the experts.

Insights on Joining a Newly Established Startup

  • Being self-aware is a key skill in joining a startup as a beginning employee. Understanding the possible volatile environment of the startup world is essential; those that have many financial responsibilities may not be cut out to work at a startup.
  • Working at a small startup makes it easy to understand how everything is working and get insight into running a company. You may attend meetings outside of your department, which also helps broaden your scope.

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