A Diary Entry: The First Day As The First Employee At A Startup

I joined Urban Company exactly one year ago, as the first employee in the organisation. Today, as the year comes to a close, my mind wanders back to my ...

2 min read

I joined Urban Company exactly one year ago, as the first employee in the organisation. Today, as the year comes to a close, my mind wanders back to my first day…

For most people, their first day at work is usually a blur of orientation sessions and meetings, trying to recall names and faces. Not to mention, sessions with HR, tedious forms to fill out and what not. But what happens when you’re the first employee in an organisation that doesn’t have any HR department- or any departments!- just 3 crazy geniuses, who also happen to be the co-founders?

I arrived 2 hours early – and so I spent the next hour and half waiting for the morning fog to clear as I sat on the doorstep of the makeshift office at Bhikaji Cama Place. When Abhiraj, Varun and Raghav arrived at 9.30 am, I was excited about getting started and had a thousand questions running through my head. But, before I could even open my mouth, Abhiraj rounded on me and abruptly askedWhat kind of market research have you done?” I was just told to bring myself and my laptop. Caught off guard, I replied, “Nothing”. What followed was a grueling interrogation that seemed to go on for hours, although it lasted for just 30 minutes. Whether it was the demand for yoga teachers on the market or the pitch to get service professionals on-board with us, I was expected to have all the answers.

Imagine my plight if you will- It had been less than a year since I’d graduated from St. Stephens.  and though I’d seen the positive and negatives of the development sector, I knew next to nothing about how start-ups operate. And here were these  three super accomplished guys grilling me and probably asking themselves why they hired me in the first place! Just as my startup dream was beginning to fade (not to mention the lure of the beanbags) and I had convinced myself I would be fired before I had even started, Abhiraj clapped me on the back and laughed- “Welcome to Urban Company”.

Then we headed out for an early lunch of sumptuous kababs and tikkas before settling down to the nitty-gritty of work.  The tone had been set for the rest of my journey here.

In my first few months, I was doing everything from handling customer experience and getting yoga instructors on the platform to being the Chief Fun Officer and the bug tester. We shifted our office premises twice in a span of three months while I settled down in a dedicated role within the Business Development team. As we grew rapidly, of course I felt disoriented- from a team of five people, we were now 250 people in the organisation. I didn’t know too many people and it felt like things were spiraling out of control. But, here’s the thing, we were all working towards solving the same problem- organizing the services marketplace in India.

Now as I look back, I know we haven’t solved the problem completely, but I am proud of the progress that we’ve made over the past year. But the journey’s not over yet- come 2016, and there’ll be greater mountains to scale, and more hurdles to cross, and I know there’ll be times when I will feel even more insignificant than that first, memorable day. All I can say is- bring it on!

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