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Changing Lanes From Corporate To Startup: One Year Later

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Changing Lanes From Corporate To Startup: One Year Later

Anne-Fleur 14/03/2017
Exactly one year ago, our back-end architect Wouter Wouters left the corporate pool and dove into startup life. For once, we asked him a question totally unrelated to technical stuff: what are the major differences between both worlds?

You say corporations, you say structures. Established business processes meticulously explain how each aspect of your job should be done (this way, not that way). And then there’s the ladder you have to climb in order to get what you want, be it permission or a promotion. Standard procedures might slow things down, but they also give you something to hang on to. "At a startup, if you don’t set structures yourself, there are none. That’s why I’m glad to have worked in the corporate world before, so I’ve at least seen those frameworks. It definitely helped me to create my own.”

Related to those structures is the fact that corporations generally offer less flexibility. “There’s no manager hovering over me, deciding my tasks on a daily basis; I plan and prioritize them myself. It makes my job here much more challenging than the one I had a year ago, where I was dealing with a quiet project. I wasn’t actively looking for another position, but when Chestnote came up, I took the opportunity with both hands.” Another flexible feature: startups have thrown the time registration tradition overboard. A dental appointment at 11 AM? No issue, trusting you have your time management under control. 

The smaller the size of startup teams, the larger the pile of responsibilities in front of each individual member. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. “When I first started here, I was the only employee. I was in charge of collecting different segments and creating a finished product. Having gone through an entire process of multitasking made the moment we launched Chestnote extremely rewarding. In the meantime, I’ve also come to better understand the works of a company. For instance, I hired two international developers who report to me.” Expectations are high, but so are the rewards.

Contrary to startups, corporations often possess a great deal of knowledge resources. “When you’re working in the corporate world, it’s fairly easy to access valuable sources of information. Everything has already been done by someone else. At a startup, you have to figure out most things yourself. As I’ve been co-raising Chestnote from a very early stage, I only want the very best. So you try everything in your power and make sure you study up on what you don’t know. Which has made it very interesting for me. I’ve been able to grow along with the company.”

A year in, Wouter has become an experienced swimmer in the wild waters that are called startup life. To the question if he would take the plunge again - hands down, it’s a yes.


Wouter Wouters is a civil engineer nano technology and self-taught programmer. Previously an IT specialist at a large scale consultancy firm, he was Chestnote’s first employee when he joined as a back-end architect in March 2016.

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