Making the Leap from Corporate to Startup

Interested in joining a startup, but not sure where to start? Taylor Stevens, Client Success Lead at NextPatient, joins me to talk about the transition to the startup world and how he’s been so successful.

First piece of advice – communication. If you aren’t on the same page as your Founder(s), it makes your job 10x harder. With all of the pressure Founders take on, it is vital for early-stage employees to help build and create that culture of communication.

Plus we talk all about how & when to grow your team as the company grows. There is never a clear answer, but Taylor can tell you signs to look for. Hint hint: Take a couple of days off to see the impact it makes on the team.

Read the Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Clare Dobson: Hello everyone. I’m Claire Dobson and we have a wonderful guest lined up for today’s episode. This person is employee number three at next patient and is a client success lead. But what I’m really excited about is we’re gonna dive into his decision. To leave a corporation and move to a startup, as well as how do we really help early stage employees learn to bring value when they just join.

[00:00:27] So everybody, please welcome Taylor Stevens. Taylor, please say hi.

[00:00:42] Taylor Stevens: Hi everyone. Good to be here.

[00:00:44] Clare Dobson: We’re excited to have you, Taylor. I, I did a lot of research on you.

You have a very common name, so it’s a little bit harder, but tell us a little bit about yourself that maybe your LinkedIn doesn’t tell us so,

[00:01:01] Taylor Stevens: Let’s see a few things about me. My LinkedIn doesn’t say, um, have a young family, so both me and my wife work from home. We’ve been, or I’ve been working from home pre pandemic.

Um, and another thing which this will maybe come in relevant down the road, but I’m kind of a personal finance net. So I, for a while was running like a, I had a blog, which not that exciting, but I had a personal finance blog. That led to some cool connections, but again, that may come in later. Just that kind of interested in personal finances for now, like 5, 6, 7 years.

Yeah, that’s, and that’s interesting. So for everybody, if you look at Taylor’s LinkedIn, he is kind of gone from implementation consultant to senior financial analyst, got his MBA and now he is at a startup. So kind of been all over the place. So I’m excited. We’re gonna dive into some details here. Sounds good.

[00:01:58] Clare Dobson: So let’s talk, Let’s go back to, I think, making the decision to join a startup. So we’ll start kind of vague and dive into the details. What triggered that decision for you to kind of leave the corporate world and dive into the startup world?

[00:02:15] Taylor Stevens: Yeah, for that. I’ll go back in time, even like a few years before that cuz I graduated with a history degree, which can in a lot of ways be like a pretty worthless degree.

Cause in and of itself it doesn’t really do a whole lot for you. I initially planned to go to law school. That obviously did not happen, which I think is a good thing for me personally that it didn’t happen, but, Um, basically I kind of tried to find when I thought that dream might still be alive, I tried to find a job to bridge the gap.

Um, and so I started working at this pseudo kind of like startup. I mean, it definitely felt like a startup just because it was growing very quickly, but I was like the 220th employee so significantly later. Yeah. But um, that was when I ultimately kind of left there. I’d gotten promoted a few times and was an implementation consultant there.
Honestly, I just really liked it there. Like, I liked more of like the, the startup vibe. Mm-hmm. . Um, but there was kind of that pressure from my wife, which I didn’t disagree with too much. It’s like, Hey, well you don’t wanna be passed up because you don’t have like the mba, Like you don’t have that formal education.

So I went back. Um, to school, got my mba, did like a full-time program, and then it just kind of, I can remember from years before my brother was getting a finance degree and he would talk about Intel and how awesome, like Intel sounded to do finance for him. So I was like, that’s what I wanna do. Um, so I was like dead set the entire time I was getting my MBA going to Intel.

I had never worked a day in finance, didn’t know a ton about Intel that probably the average person doesn’t know. I was kind of dead set on making that happen. And even though I didn’t have any finance experience, basically my enthusiasm got me the job because I was able to just like out research people and say like, so many things about Intel that made it, made it clear like I really wanted to be working there.

So I got the job, but almost immediately, like within a couple months, I was just like, Man, this is horrible. Like this is, this is not good. Like, Doing a job like that at Intel when you are, Um, basically what I was, is I would like, I would just feed information to people. Okay. And so my, like higher ups, 1, 2, 3 levels above me, they didn’t like care how hard something was, or they didn’t care how much they were gonna use it.

It was just like they wanted all of the mes out there. To pull them as many reports as they could. So then they had like the bigger picture and could make decisions. So I was like, Oh, good for them. But sometimes I would pull reports and I would do like a lot of work on something and I just knew they’re not even gonna look at this.

Yeah. And it’s like really, it’s really disheartening to be in a job that you are kind of like cool half of what I’m doing, like I have to do it otherwise I get fired. Yeah. But they don’t have to do anything with it. Or even like open my email that pulls together.

After like 18 months there I was just like, you know, that was actually a really fun time when I worked at that startup. Like I didn’t do anything that was stupid there, like they weren’t asking me to run stupid reports or join stupid meetings, like everything there was, you do what you have to do.

[00:05:28] Clare Dobson: That is a value add and like really not a lot of additional crap piled on. Yeah. So started looking so that. Kind of a long that that triggered it. Okay. Yeah. What led me to kinda go down this path? Yeah, that’s, It’s interesting you say that because, so I worked at a marketing agency and while it was still a small company, it, and it was great because I learned a lot and what I implemented internally stayed.

But when you work with agencies, like you’re never on the other end. So sometimes somebody would implement it, sometimes it wouldn’t, and it would just be so disheartening to put all this work, create this cool campaign, do all this, and then like, Ah, no, we’re, you know, we don’t have the manpower to make that work or do something.

And you’re like, Ah, what? So I totally understand where you’re coming from. Did you, I mean, was that Dishearten. For you at all when you were at Intel and you went through your MBA and you did all that, Like, how did that make you feel in this sense? Yeah, I mean it, I feel like when you get a job like that, like senior financial analyst, you kind of feel like, oh, I’m, um, like in a certain way.

[00:06:40] Taylor Stevens: Like, Oh, I’ve made it. Like this is what like my entire college and working career has like culminated toward and I’m just kind of. I’m like a peon here. Yeah. Like I’m, I’m just a cog in the wheel and if I died, my boss would feel zero pain. And that was, um, like, there were times where I was just like, you know what?

I just want to go and like give my boss my laptop and be like, I’m done. Like I quit. But then I kind of thought about it. I’m like, the only person that hurts is like the people who I really like at Intel. Yeah. Those are like my immediate people because they would’ve to like make. For me, So anyways, yeah, basically you’re just a complete cog in the wheel.

Yeah, yeah. Where I was, I think that had I been around for 3, 4, 5 more years and had more experience, then I could have been more like a more strategic person. But yeah, for where I was very disheartening to not feel like what you’re contributing is value add. There’s just like anyone could do this if they just want to like bang their head on a wall long.

[00:07:39] Clare Dobson: Yeah, so, So from there you decided to take a leap, join a startup, but what’s even more interesting is you didn’t know the founder. So can you walk us through kind of how you found next patient, why you decided to go there and what kind of build off that?

[00:08:36] Taylor Stevens: Yeah, so, um, Yeah, I cannot like advocate more highly for, um, AngelList as a website,
Um, just because I love the platform so much because it’s a. It’s geared toward like startup and just like early companies and it’s got both a funding side. So there are people who actually do fund companies directly from Angel List, but then the companies can post jobs. And so my company we, we post jobs on Angel List, so it’s really geared towards startups and just like the transparency is great, most of the time they will tell you.

How much they’re going to offer, like how many employees are there, whether you’re gonna get stock options, like what, And they actually do it based on a percentage, which is better, rather than telling you like, you’re gonna get 10,000 options, which could be 1% of the company, or it could be 0.01% of the company.

So yeah. Um, just like the transparency is good. Um, and the application process is super simple. So you essentially like build. Kind of like another, like LinkedIn profile. Mm-hmm. , once you’ve built that up on their platform, then it’s super easy to apply. So anyways, I’ve pitched that long enough, but then I just like set up a search and I would just look like every day for, for jobs on Angel List.

And I felt like I cared less about what the company did and more about like what the job itself looked like. The company needed to be, I felt like growing and doing things. Mm-hmm. But for example, I worked for a healthcare company. Yeah. I could not have cared less about like joining a healthcare, healthcare company.
Yeah. That was what it happened to be. Um, but I was, I was just looking for something where I could be super early and basically be like a thought waiter of the company. Okay. Like, kind of bring my, I’ve done this before as an implementation consultant in my previous job. I have an MBA. Can I go somewhere and just be one of, Yeah, one of the earliest employees where I’m kind of helping to set the vision and if I hitch my wagon to the right horses, then they can kind of pull me and like pull me up to higher levels and.

That’s what I was looking for, applied to, um, next patient and everything just went really smoothly. Like I liked the founders. There was only the two of them at the time. One is, um, the main founder, um, he is our software developer. And then the second one, he was like our first sales rep.
And they’re just cool guys. So we got along really well. Everything was done virtually. Um, and it just kind of, We had a couple interviews and it was like, Well, what do we do? Like they hadn’t hired anyone before, so they were like, I dunno, when do we know? And they’re like, I guess we’ll offer you a job. So I’m like, Okay.
Oh, I guess I’ll take the job. So it was pretty, it was much more nonchalant than I would’ve, I would’ve thought. One, one funny thing that I’d tell people being that early, there’s like, How do I know these dudes who I’ve never met before? Like, how do I even know this thing is legit? Yeah. So, Again, this is very unconventional, but like my wife did not want me to do this , she was board.

Um, so I actually asked them, I was like, Hey, so I’ve got questions for you, like after they had offered me the job, but I said like, I’ve got questions for you. And my wife is very skeptical. Can she join the call? And I’m just gonna walk you through these questions. And so I had. 20 questions prepared for them.

And they were like, pretty hard hitting questions. Like revenue based questions, profitability based questions. Mm-hmm. like, um, retention questions and just things like that. And in hindsight they’ve told me like, that actually made them like me more like I’d already gotten the job, but when I like came to them, I think it was actually, it was kind of like funnier, interesting that I had brought my wife.

That was mostly for her, not for me. Yeah. The fact that I had like prepared, like all these questions they, before I even started, they were just like, Okay, cool. This guy, I’m glad we made the decision with this guy. Yeah. So. Anyways. I don’t know if there’s any other questions you have on No. Yeah, that’s interesting.

Like talking about that. So, cuz I think everything, most things are virtually now, right? And you really, it’s really hard to get to know someone even though you can ask ’em all the questions and all that, but it’s, it’s a lot easier to, um, Kind of fake it till you make it in the interview process when you’re not in person.

Cuz you don’t get to see all the quirks, like, what are they doing with their hands? Are they moving their leg? Like you, you know, it’s, it’s really easy to stare at a screen and then your hands are down there. Right. So I think, um, from that side of it, for you, and I know obviously your wife and I feel like I would be in the same boat, but do you feel like.

Made it easier for you to make a decision or were you already on board once they offered you the job? I felt like I was on board just because the job itself checked the boxes I was looking for. Mm-hmm. , this is why kind of earlier I wanted to bring up the personal finance thing. Yeah. And this is not necessarily even related to like this podcast, but just like general advice all good is Yeah.
Me and my wife have been such big savers for a long time. Yeah, I kind of viewed it as like a little to no risk thing. Like the company could go under and I could need to find another job, but I was just kind of looking at it as like a calculated risk and I was thinking like, okay, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

We didn’t have any kids at the time, so I guess we were, we were in a good spot from that standpoint of not having like that added level of concern, but mm-hmm. kinda like, cool, like if this company doesn’t work out, what’s the worst thing that can. Yeah, like I go and apply to another job and tell them the company went over and I, or went under and I was the third employee.

Like, that’s not that surprising. And that’s not, they’re almost gonna hold that against me. So there, there is no way that you can like be 100% sure of something. And even if you are 100% sure of something today, like something changes tomorrow and startups are volatile enough that all it takes is like some outside.

To like push on them or act in such a way and it can like make most, any startup at the, when you’re the third employee, it can make them like irrelevant. So yeah, I feel like if you are covered from a financial standpoint and you’ve got like a few months of buffer, at least you can take these risks if you just like feel good about it.
That’s, uh, I think that’s great advice. And I mean, startups are a risk. It doesn’t matter if you’re employee number three, employee number 20 or 50. Like you never know when the funding’s gonna run out or if you’re gonna keep growing. So I think in any sense it is a risk and you just.

I mean you have, I think the most important thing is like what you get out of it. And so it’s at the startup level, it’s what you put in is what you’re gonna get out. If you don’t wanna put in the work, you’re not gonna last very long. The company might not survive. If you put in the work, good things can happen.

[00:15:01] Clare Dobson:So, yeah, Agreed. So on talking about next patient, cuz. I think for that first, let’s say three months, what was it like being on the ground floor but not being an owner? Yeah, it was, it was a lot more challenging than I would’ve thought. I felt like things went well with my founder, the developer type, like the Okay.

[00:15:19] Taylor Stevens: More or less the entire time. Um, it’s interesting now because. He’s just like not a super social guy. Like he’s very, very, very introverted. So it’s interesting to look back now to see, like he definitely put on an extroverted face with me just cause he knew Taylor has no one else to talk to here. Like it’s me working together.

And then the same day I started, the fourth employee started, he’s a sales rep, so him and the co-founder kind of had their, they worked hand in hand and then me and. The founder worked hand in hand, so, Okay. That actually went really well. What didn’t go as well was the co-founder who was still closing deals.

I thought that I was, um, I thought I was like doing him a favor early, because basically what would happen is he would close a deal, he would hand it over to me and I would to implement it, and I was kind of like, Yeah, I’m not gonna bug in, like I’m just gonna do this. and I can like vividly remember, I don’t know at what point it was like how many months I’d been there.

I’m gonna say like probably two months. And he just kind of sat me down and he is like, Taylor, I don’t know if this is working. Um, oh. Like he basically felt like I was not, I wasn’t doing anything. Like he just thought I was kind of sitting around not touching these accounts and. It’s amazing cuz we found, um, we use Yesware to like track emails and things like that.

Yep. Like a sales tool. But, um, we found a way that we could integrate like my, my email with Salesforce, which we use Salesforce mm-hmm. . And as soon as my email started pushing into Salesforce, he immediately was able to see like, Oh, you are, you’re that far with this client. I was like, Yeah, I’ve done like 90% of everything.

He’s like, Oh, I didn’t even think that you would talk to them. And so the whole thing was just like a huge miscommunication where he thought I wasn’t doing anything and I thought I was doing the right thing by like not bugging him with this like detailed, like this detailed stuff. Like, Oh, I did this, I did this.
But I think he needed that credibility for me at first. Yeah. And so once we established that, I was able to like, For a short period of time, like overcommunicate with him. Um, and then after, I mean, because that happened, it took probably like a year to like fully clean up that mess. Mm. But now we’re to the point he like doesn’t care about like anything I do
He doesn’t babysit me literally at all. He’s like, Why would I need to babysit Taylor? Like if Taylor says he has something, he has something. Yeah. So I do think it’s important in those first few months. Especially if you are the first person that is doing your job, that means there’s no one else doing your job.

And no one knows if you’re doing your job at all or you’re doing it well or what you’re doing. Um, it’s, it’s really hard when you can be really siloed and it’s hard to communicate to someone, which this will come later I’m sure, but like, I’m actually really busy and I need help. Like, those discussions can be like really hard and really challenging.

Um, at a startup. So yeah, my suggestion would just be, have discussions early on, like how can we communicate so that we both are on the same page and we mm-hmm. and neither of us gets frustrated thinking like the other isn’t doing the job well enough. Yeah, that’s, it’s so interesting you say that because it is for founders and co-founders, I mean, that companies, their, their baby in this sense, like they, they want it to succeed more than anybody else, so, If they feel like maybe you’re not quite doing your job, it’s probably just cuz they don’t know and they either have like a hyper focus on it or they lose sight of it and then need to reel it back in.

[00:19:05] Clare Dobson: So I think. It’s a good point for anybody looking to join or maybe just starting is I think find ways to make sure that the communication is in sync. So whether they wanna be, you know, do they want weekly recap emails? Do they only wanna be bothered when there’s an issue? I think figuring out that early is really important.
We just had a meeting a few weeks ago, our company, to really talk about that as we just brought on three new employees. So we’re at, um, six full-time employees right now, plus our development team. So, We had that. Okay. How do you like to be communicated with? Like when I say got it on Slack, it doesn’t, I’m not being passive aggressive, I’m just busy and that’s like, you know, so I think talking through that is really important, uh, for early stage employees to figure out how to work together.

[00:19:55] Taylor Stevens: Especially maybe when you don’t know the founders personally either. I do think just to like tack onto that, um, I think sometimes like personality tests can be helpful. Mm-hmm. on that. There’s one, um, I think it’s called, Oh, it’s called like the PACE palette, I think it is. Okay. And for some reason that’s just one that my co-founder really likes.

And so he’s had everyone take it and it just comes out with like, you’re one of I think four colors or five colors. Yeah. But it’s even just like easy or it’s good to have something like that. So the immediate people you’re working with to. Like what color they are. So then you’re like, Oh, if they, to your point, if they communicate in such a way, It’s not because they’re jerks, it’s because like this person’s an analytical type.
Yeah. So if you don’t, if you give them a whole long story and they either like don’t respond or is just like, Okay, , you didn’t ask the right thing to them. And if this other person be like super long winded and fluffy all the time, and they’re much like wear their emotions on their sleeve. So I think it’s good.
Maybe you are the person who is like, Hey, I think we should do one of these personality tests just so we can like know how to communicate. With, with other people. Really, it’s a very low risk thing. We started doing that, um, in like a bigger capacity. We have player cards now where people take like a few of them.

[00:21:13] Clare Dobson: So now when you, like, when you’re managing people or your manager, it’s just good to like look at their player card and know mm-hmm. , oh, here’s, here’s their personality. Just have a little bit more insight into that. Yeah, it’s, there’s, there’s quite a few out there. It’s interesting, there’s a funny skip by key and peel that goes through like the texting side of it, right?

[00:21:32] Taylor Stevens: So it’s like if on Slack they say something and you misread it to be this type of context. So I think it happens more often than people truly think it does. So it’s all the time, like all the early employees at my company. . Um, they get so nervous at the things my co-founder says, cuz he, he’s just like so short and they think he’s mad at them all the time.
Yeah. I think I made him mad and they’ll give the context. I’m like, He’s not mad. Just, just move on. , you’re like the middle person. Yeah. I mean, at the end of the day, I think, at least from my standpoint too, with Greg, our founder, abstract. You don’t realize how much they truly have to do because you’re like, Oh, okay.
He’s just, you know, he was our only sales rep for a while, so he’s just doing the sales. But it’s like, no, he’s worrying about funding. He’s worried about investors. Where’s the next path? Where are we growth to? Where’s our product going? Like there’s so much more on their plate that I think sometimes we lose sight of that.

And it’s important to talk about it and learn too. I think. I mean, you brought it from the financial side. You’re looking to join a startup, but you don’t maybe have the financial background or don’t understand if this stock option is good compared to this salary and all that. Like it’s important to learn about that stuff because you’re gonna be in it every day.

And as you go through the funding round, you wanna understand what’s happening with the company. Yeah, Agreed. All right, let’s go. Let’s keep talking about the. In a startup, like did you feel like a next patient that you were always, maybe you could go a month without any wins or you just were struggling and then finally you get a win, but then you get knocked back down.
Did you ever feel like that? Um, not exactly in, I mean, this is more specific to like what I do, so I do like. Implementation work. And this is also like a credit to the company that the founder built. Like, it’s just like a really solid platform. The thing I love about it is I always, I say this to clients all the time, it does what we say it does.

Mm-hmm. . So the good thing about that is it makes my life, it makes my life much easier where I can get those wins and then I’m getting like the small wins along the way where mm-hmm. , like I have a new implementation, get them live. So I wouldn’t say like they’re. I’m not having like losses per se, but I do think that, um, over the course of like my first 18 months, it became like a gradual process.

Like if, you know the whole like boiling the frog analogy. Mm-hmm. , you start heating up the water. It hit me after like a year. I was like, I am so busy. Like, I didn’t, I didn’t like process because. When I first started, the two founders were able to do my job. And so when I started doing it full time, I was like, Man, this is easy.

Yeah. And like I didn’t have to work that hard because yeah, again, two people were splitting my job and now I had it 100% by myself. Um, so, but it did just kind of pick up little by little by little. And it got to the point again, like maybe 14 months later where I couldn’t do like any of my. There’s like a talking with clients component and then there’s a configuration component that I have to like do things for them sometimes.

[00:24:49] Um, and it got to the point where I could do zero configuration, like during the work day. So it would be like during the day was doing emails and talking to clients. And then at night that was like when I got back online and that’s when I could do my configuration stuff for several hours and it just like, I don’t know, it got to be so.

Draining. Just like every night. I know I’m gonna have to go back in and do configuration work. Um, So yours, it didn’t hit you until later where some people joined as immediate, but it’s like that came on as the company grew. Yeah. Yeah. Cause we’re, we’re completely bootstrapped. Yeah. So we have not gotten funding, so we’ve kind of been like a slow, steady build, like gr like we’ve had really good growth, like more or less like a hundred percent year over year growth, but, When they, they hired me at a good point.

So, no, my, my life was not crazy. Like it got crazy when they kept on adding sales reps and when I didn’t put like, hire anymore of me. Well let’s transition to that side of building your team cuz you have a team of six now, is that correct? Six including me. Six including you. So how, I mean, when did you know you had to hire and how, like what personalities did you look for in their new hires?

[00:26:08] Um, so I think. The, the thing that has been the most surprising to me at a startup is I kind of felt like, I felt like different milestones would be more clear. Like, Oh, this is when we hire another team member. Oh, this is when you need an operations person. Oh, this is like expanding roles. This is where we need a dedicated customer support like, There’s no guidebook that’s telling you when to , and so everything is like a shade of gray through the entire thing.

It’s like, oh, I guess it’s getting a stronger shade of this. Like maybe, And thank goodness I actually got called in for jury duty for like two days. Um, and so it was like really like one of the first times, and that was like after a year and I just hadn’t taken a whole lot of time off in that year.

Mm-hmm. . . And so I had to be like offline completely for jury duty and I got a message from like everyone at the company after I came back and they were just like, Taylor, we appreciate you Taylor. We know everything you do for us now. Cause it’s easy when I’m just like managing everything and I don’t. I’m like very independent and I can do things and make their lives easy, but when they had to pick up the slack, they’re like, Oh my gosh.

So that was the beginning of us hiring another person and with me, like really from that point, like pushing, like, we need to make this happen. Um, and then in terms of what to look for, um, I don’t, It’s interesting because I do feel like all of our hires, at least on my team, have worked out. , and this is not a very, like, this is not a very like thoughtful thing per se, but I just found like find someone who has done this job previously, if they can like talk the talk where it’s like, cool, they weren’t like horrible at that job.

Mm-hmm. and they hopefully just. We’re working at a company that it evolved to the point that it was like a toxic company, or the company was just like not a good place to be. So you’re essentially like poaching a good person out of a bad environment, and that’s been literally every person that we’ve hired.

It was a good person, not in a good situation for them. And so we’ve had, we’ve made two hires that they hadn’t like actually done this job, the customer success job before, but they had enough like other things where I’m like, Okay, like you can do this, this, this job is not rocket science. Yeah. Um, so. It’s hard, like if I had to put like again, like put the recipe book together of like, this is how you have people that, Yeah.

Or known you don’t have to fire six months later and don’t like, cause all of this, like all of these negative repercussions. I think it’s really find someone who’s ideally done the job and then have several or. Yeah, I, I think I’ll leave it at that. I think I pretty much, Yeah, I mean if you solve that, I think you’d make a lot of money, cuz I think everybody wishes is, how do I guarantee this person’s gonna last six months and be a good fit.

[00:29:12] Clare Dobson: Do you, Go ahead. Oh, go ahead. I was gonna say, do you think there’s a certain, like are they all different personality types in that sense? Or do you think there’s one common theme that they all have? I think that there’s like a level of flexibility for all of them. Um, and I think, yeah, you might, or I guess we can answer this now.

[00:29:34] Taylor Stevens: Yeah. Um, I think to like make it, at this point in the startup and my company is now, even though we’re still only like 17 people, it’s starting to feel like a more mature company in the sense that just. We’re pretty stable. Like we’re profitable. The company is growing again. We’re completely bootstrapped.

[00:29:55] Yeah, so from like feeling like you’re kind of like comfortable where you are, it’s actually pretty high. But the thing I feel like that was in common for me in the early days in a lot of the people on my team that do well is you’re just like, you’re just flexible with things. Like, I, I don’t think, or I think it’s easy in a career to kind of feel like entitled to do something now.
and I am not the type of person that says like, Oh, you need to just like give everything to your career, give everything to your company. Like I’m not an old school person like that. But I do also think like there’s a time and a season for things and if you can find the right company, like you need to find a company that won’t abuse you.
Cause if you find a company and you give them everything and they just want more, that’s not a good, that’s not a good fit. Mm-hmm. . With my company, my founders are actually like good people that care about people and they care about their employees. So I gave them a lot early on in like being flexible to them and like not leaving them or the clients like high and dry when I was the only person doing the job.

And now it’s gotten to the point that we have six of us that now I can do that. Yeah. And I can leave and we’ve got backup. So I think it’s just like, just be flexible. If you can be flexible. And then I would say second thing, and this is huge for the people on my team, is at a startup, there is not enough people to babysit you.

Yeah. And so if you need to be babysat, like it’s not gonna work. Mm. So if you can’t do what’s expected of you, then you may as well not try and you may be able to get away with it for a little bit, but not very long. Like I could have gotten away with it much longer at Intel, like not knowing what I was doing and not really producing.

Mm-hmm. . But here you get exposed. You get exposed pretty quickly. Mm-hmm. . So those two. Yeah, that’s interesting you said that. Cause it’s come up before in the sense of, it’s okay if, if you want kind of that leniency, you want a bit little, little bit time or longer time to onboard and you want all that and a bigger company’s probably for you.

But if you wanna just dive in and you’re, you know, hands on learning every day, flexibility is huge. Like, You have to want that. And you can’t force yourself into job, otherwise, it’s just not gonna work out and you won’t have a good time. No, no. So I think it, like, I think it requires flexibility, but now I get so much more flexibility than I got from my, um, from Intel.

Like at Intel, I remember I started and my found, or my boss was like, I don’t care when you come in. I don’t care when you. And he proved like within the first two weeks I was a complete lie because he asked me like three times like, Oh, where were you? Where was this? And I was like, I was going to an Intel event, , I forgot the day before.

You just forgot about it. And that just proved to me, I was like, Dude, you care so much about where I am. Yeah. Don’t, don’t tell new people. I don’t care where you are. But you know who has never asked me where I am. My founders today, they’ve literally never asked me a single. like, Hey, you don’t come online until this time, or you left at that time.
Yeah. Literally never. Yeah, that great. Yeah. You gotta be able to manage that time too. And I think, I think that’s the big corporations and teams trying to feel like the startup and evolving that way, but it’s, it’s harder when everyone’s held accountable to that standard and then, you know, you’re trying to do it different with your team, but really you care deep down cuz it all is coming from the top that way.

[00:33:25] Clare Dobson: What do you think has made you successful in building your team? Like what, I mean you haven’t had a person leave yet. You’ve had a really solid foundation like that’s attributed to you as well, not just the founder. So what do you think it is that separated you in a sense? Yeah, it, like I said earlier, I do think I have an unfair advantage because I have a company that’s growing in a product that works.

[00:33:53] Taylor Stevens: And in a client focused job, to have a, To have software that like works is kind of crazy and like, or can be crazy in the startup world. Cause a lot of times there’s like so many bugs and issues. So there’s that. I can’t really control that. I’m just like grateful that I do have that. But this is a me thinking, like, I kind of think I want this to be like a really good place to work.

Mm. . And so in a virtual world, like we, we do one hour long get together or like zoom meeting per week, where most of that is just like kind of shooting the bull. Mm-hmm. I mean, it is work related, but also just like fun getting to know each other. And then like I really do encourage people to take time off.

[00:34:39] Like there’s one of the girls on my team, she’s going to Hawaii and she told me, she’s like, Oh yeah, we’re gonna get an Airbnb and I’ll probably just work out. I was like, Wait, wait, wait. You’re going to Hawaii and you’re just gonna work virtually the whole time. Like, that is crazy. And so I was like, Take, take some time off.

And so she’s now gonna take a whole week off. But the good news is like we have enough backup for her that we can fill in for like the week that she’s out. But I feel like just being the place at a startup, you can really create the place that you want to work for. No. . It’s possible that my founders would not have liked it if I told her that.

Mm-hmm. , But I kind of, This sounds weird. I, I don’t necessarily care about that. Like, if they did scold me, which they wouldn’t, then I’d be like, Okay, cool. I know not to do that. Or like, No, like, is this place I wanna work for? If you have an issue with that? Yeah. No one told me to do that either. Like, that was a me thing.

Like I want to create a culture where we have flexible time and where we actually use. Our time off. And so just like being super flexible with people covering for each other. Mm-hmm. creating like a team of, we help each other and we can come to each other, come like to the group, like with any question.

So I feel like we’re just like super supportive. We’re very positive of each other. Um, so it’s just like not a toxic, like workplace at all. Yeah. So I feel like all of those things, like when you come into work and you’re like, cool, I mean, let’s, let’s be honest, like we’re, we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t getting paid.

Um, but if I have to be going somewhere and if I have to be doing a job, it may as well be with people that I do enjoy for the most part, and that treats me well and like views me as a human. So we’ve tried to create that. Yeah, that’s, that’s really cool. And that’s awesome. Now you’ve been able to build that.

[00:36:31] Clare Dobson: I think that’s something that we haven’t touched on before or I haven’t touched on with anyone else, is when you decide to make that leap to join a startup, if even if you’re under 20 employees, like you are helping create a culture for, as the company grows and. I think not everyone realizes how important that truly is and how important the leadership above you is, but they had trust in you to build your team how you wanted to, and I think that slowed down as well to you and you’re giving your team trust, so it’s an important.

Thing that’s not talked about is that culture creating it. We, at abstract, we like to always say we have each other’s back. Like that’s just how it is. Like if something goes down, someone needs help or someone’s out, like we all jump in and, and it’s. Yeah, I, You need that. You need that at a startup and one thing just cuz you sparked something, it’s, Yeah.

[00:37:29] Taylor Stevens: From my founder’s perspective, I think that they’re really good at being able to segment, like work is work and personal life as personal life. And so I think that they much more than like other people, I don’t think they, they really feel the need to get. As much like of the fun from work. Like they could just like not get that and then get that from their personal life.

[00:37:51] Yeah. So I would say don’t just, and I’m not saying you said this, but don’t, um, don’t just assume that like the founders do want some of those things. Mm-hmm. , like, they may be like the super introverted, like analytical type or they’re like, wait, wait, wait. Like why, why do I need to be fun? And so maybe you need to actually step up and be that person, like for.
Years. Me and the fourth employee, we said like, We need to do a trip. We need to do a trip. We need to do a trip. And finally last December they took the whole company up to Park City, Utah. We went there for like four days. We went skiing a few days, got like a spa package. We rented some really nice Airbnbs and it was so much fun.

Mm-hmm. like it was, it was awesome. But that was us like pushing. For years, and then finally the founders are like, Yeah, like we should do this. Like, we’re so small, we can still do this. So you can have a huge impact on, again, forming the type of company and the type of culture that you want. Yeah, that’s, that’s such great advice, Taylor.

Was it, has it all been worth it making that leap for you and leaving Intel, even though you got the mba, like all that past stuff up until now has been worth it in your. I would say, even though I took a pay cut to come here from Intel, I’d say 100%. Yeah. So I’ve been able to, by looking into a company that is actually growing, was able to hire people, I’m now like in a management position and who knows how long that would’ve taken at Intel, if that was, cuz that was a goal.
It might eventually. So yeah, I was able to progress my career more quickly and I’ve gotten. Raises. I don’t know, I guess where I would be at Intel, that puts me probably pretty equal to where I would be in some more like raises along the way. And hopefully I’ve, I now got fully vested with my equity about a month ago.

Awesome. Waiting on like my next package of equity. Um, but hopefully that’ll be where something someday and I can be happy when that, to cash that check someday. So definitely worth it and I would definitely do it all. That’s awesome con Well, congrats on the vesting. That’s important part of it. And yeah.

[00:39:58] Clare Dobson: Do you, I mean, what advice do you have if someone’s listening to this and they either just started or they’re looking to start? What other advice besides, you know, understanding the financial side of it too, Like what would you tell them? I would say joining a startup in many ways is much less risky than you think, and in a lot of cases you can actually.

[00:40:22] Taylor Stevens: A lot more of the perks that you maybe don’t think you can. Like I got paternity leave when our, when our baby was born, it was only a month of paternity leave. And I know at Intel, I think it’s now up to like three or four months, so it’s not maybe gonna be that high, that high, high end stuff, but like you can get all the time off, all the 401ks you can get paid.

I think sometimes you often think like, Oh, I’m joining a startup. Like I’m gonna take a huge pay cut. . Um, and it doesn’t have to be like, there are a lot of startups that I see that they’re paying like really good money. Mm-hmm. . So you can kind of, I feel like at a startup have your cake. You eat it too.
Where you can work at a cool company, like, because there are so many startups and there are so many like cool companies out there. You can find like the company that if you are like. Company focused or mission driven, like you can find the company that is doing that on a micro scale, like on a much smaller scale where you can have like such a direct impact on that rather than joining like the big traditional companies that you’re just wheel and you’d be replaced tomorrow if you got hit.

[00:41:33] So I would say the risk is much, much lower than you think, and there’s no downside to starting to look at like the angel list of the world to see. Mm. Is there something that speaks to me? And my guess is you’re probably gonna find something that speaks to you. Yeah, absolutely. That’s great advice. And you know, you never, you never know where you’re gonna find or where you end up in your career.

[00:41:54] Clare Dobson: So it’s important to take risks too. What’s next for you? I mean, I know, so you’re trying to build the team and all that, but you know, what goals do you have? Where do you see yourself in a few years? I think, um, I’m still liking next patient right now. So I feel like there’s always the calculated decision of like, is it smarter to, I mean, and this is not, I mean at all obviously at all times in your career.

[00:42:20] Taylor Stevens: Mm-hmm. , is it smarter to like jump ship or is it smarter to stay and build what I have and I, I feel like because I’m still in a good position where the company is growing, if I can just work and help build where I am, then. Hopefully in a few years. I like what my founder says is cuz again, with him never raising money, he could probably sell the company today and, um, never work again for the rest of his life just because he owns such a large share of the equity.
Yeah. But his goal is he doesn’t want to sell until like all of his employees are taken care of. And what he always says is like, I want this to be like the jumping off point. And this is like the. The best decision you ever made and where you go after this will be like your dream position or whatever.
So that’s kind of what I, what I see is I wanna build where I am and then hopefully I can just continue to evolve this into like, I’m doing my dream position here, but then hopefully things go well here and then I can have kind of my pick of the litter on the other end as. That’s awesome. I, you know, you always, I think people might get a salty taste in their mouth of mouth if they ever join a startup that doesn’t have that same type of leadership in that role.
But I, I don’t think that’s everywhere. And it’s clear that it’s not for your company with next patient. There are founders who truly wanna take care of the people that take that risk to come work for them. And it’s, And you. Trying to find that. And I think there is places out there that provide that. So it’s awesome to hear that.

[00:43:56] Clare Dobson: And you know, I’m excited for you guys. I’m always gonna start following you now to see what’s going on and all of that. See what I can learn from. But where if people have questions, Taylor, um, or they want, you know, wanna ask you something, what’s the best place to get ahold of you as well as to follow what next patient’s.

[00:44:15] Taylor Stevens: Yeah, I mean we have a pretty, pretty crappy website right now. . We are growing despite our horrible marketing. But next is the company. If you wanna look at that. LinkedIn is probably a little better cause we’ll actually share some more stuff. They follow us on LinkedIn and then me, um, shoot me an email at Taylor dot Stevens 24 at Gmail, or I don’t really post any of my financial stuff anymore, but I was Mr.
F. Mr. F I g or guy. Um, so you can follow me on Instagram, but I don’t really post much anymore cuz I’ve fallen out of my personal finance. Um, well maybe this will be the spark to, uh, get you going again. Yeah, it is, it is fun. I, I would like that. I just life, you know, life took me into that and then I got a lot of really good stuff out of it that led to like good connections and good things.

That would be a good thing to pick up. But yeah, I’d love to hear, um, from anyone if they’ve got Yeah, similar experience, similar background, have tips, trips, or questions, I’d be happy to help or get helped . Yeah. Love it. Well, thank you very much Taylor. I appreciate you joining me today and uh, I hope everybody learns something.

[00:45:25] Clare Dobson: There’s definitely lots of good nuggets in here to be able to, uh, take and implement right away. So thank you again, Taylor.

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