15 larger than life personas you’ll run into if you work at a start-up

1. The founder who thinks narcissism is a life strategy instead of a personality disorder

No order he has given has ever been imperfect or unclear, and if the company struggles to secure funding, it's everyone's fault but his. He makes Trump look like a confused little child asking his mummy why he can't have another biscuit before bed. And unlucky for you, what stands between this guy and the cookie jar is any of his employees trying to hold him accountable.

2. The guy who puts "founder" as his job title on all the dating apps but still hasn't started a company

He views it more as a state of being than an actual job you have to do. A bit like the woman who identifies as a lesbian but still only dates men because it's easier. The good thing is that you won't need to worry about ever running into him if you work for a start-up. He's too busy updating his LinkedIn.

3. The humble guy with daddy issues

He wouldn't get up for anything less than groups of people shouting his name from the rooftops. But he's really humble since he's built everything he has from scratch with no help from his super-rich daddy. And while all his investors came from his dad's Rolodex, that doesn't mean that he's a nepo baby, okay?

4. The woman who's been the cover image for every article that begins with "female founder."

female founder

She's not really sure what product she sells anymore. But it doesn't really matter as long as she can look feminine in pastel colours against all those grey suits and blue shirts. She's never been asked a question by a journalist that doesn't contain the word "female" at least once, and she has skilfully mastered turning any conversation into a debate about why such a small percentage of investments go to female-led companies.

5. The "snacking is a human right" employee

The only reason they work at a start-up at all is that they were told there would be free snacks. The office kitchen isn't so much a place to fuel up for a long evening at work as it is their own personal pantry. And when they leave work in the evening, you can usually see several unopened packets of energy bars popping out from their bag. The company once considered to weigh the employees before and after the work day because of them, but they had just raised enough money to afford an HR rep that told them that wasn't a good idea.

6. The remote work nomad

She has spent the last five years mastering the art of working from anywhere that has something resembling a power outlet and wifi. While she hands in her work on time, you never know if she's going to call in for a scheduled meeting or not. And since you're never on the same time zone, she's usually asleep when you try to call her.

7. The investor who is all "on your side"

She promised she would be your friend forever from the second you docusigned that shareholders agreement one late Tuesday evening. But she's been stopping you from getting much work done ever since she said the only thing standing between you and success was more detailed investor reporting. Your sales are dwindling because you spend all your time giving her updates, but that doesn't really matter so much anymore since she convinced you to start selling personalised toilet roll paper instead of improved hearing aids.

8. The guy who doesn't care about the product

The hardest thing in any start-up in the sales job. At least that's what he tells himself and all of his employees when he explains why he gets to leave the office at 3 PM on the weekdays and spends most of his time doing boozy lunches.

9. The guy who used to be a banker

He worked the first two years for Goldman before he realised that bankers' bonuses no longer get you a townhouse in New York and a villa in Ibiza. So the logical step was to switch to somewhere else where he could re-brand his ability to write PowerPoint slides as "experience in fundraising" and "CFO potential."

10. The growth hacker

For some reason, this person isn't aware that there are start-ups that work with anything other than tech. And while working fast and breaking things might be feasible when what you break is a line of code, dumping all your investments worth of products just because they never bothered to check how they would survive shipping, was probably not their finest moment.

11. The conference room squatter

They work for one of those companies that operate with free seating and no personal offices. And ever since their company decided to turn the last office in the building into an organic sensory room, they have been hunched over a desk in one of the smallest meeting rooms. From phone calls to one-on-one meetings to lunch, they're always in there. They've even personalised the space with their coffee mug and stationery.

12. The person who has a successful blog about how to run a start-up, but the only start-up they have run is the blog

It's great to give other people advice when what you're good at is marketing how to give other people advice. You probably don't want to put your next 350 dollars in his masterclass on how to dropship your dream client right into your garage, though. And you can quote us on that on your next book cover.

13. The "you'll never know what it's like until you run your own company" founder

female founder travelling with bags

She's relatively successful but has never worked anywhere else than a start-up and claims no one else in the entire world can understand what she went through when she first started the company. A bit like the parents who say you can never know love until you've had a child. How can you possibly know what going to work feels like unless you've had to wrap parcels to customers using your toenail scraps as scissors?

14. The big shot headhunted from a large corporate

When the recruiters were asked to find someone for the job, they were told it didn't matter so much what they could do, as much as the candidate needing to have grey hair and be over 50. They're there to exude confidence in meetings, usually with banks or government agencies. This is to make sure no one gets spooked by thinking they're giving up control of vital infrastructure to a bunch of 24-year-olds on Adderall.

15. The second in command

She's great at executing orders but doesn't care who she works for. She's been a core part of launching everything from ride-sharing apps to wonky vegetable boxes and toilet seat lights. Who needs passion or ideas when you have shares that vest early, right?

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