This is a short article about our path from university into the professional world, why eventually work disillusion set in and how we found purpose by founding a company.
The ungrateful millennial
My co-founders and I have all grown-up as millennials in Switzerland, where we never experienced lack of food, education or security. What’s more, we could all go to university and study what we were most interested in — computer science. We studied and worked part-time, so we could not only gain knowledge but also practical work experience in parallel.
After graduating from university, we followed our careers in medium- to large-sized companies, where we expanded our knowledge and experience in various contexts such as cloud computing and mobile development, but also in general IT processes like test management and DevOps.
We had it all — free coffee, a good salary, a safe work environment, sports and events with co-workers and challenging tasks. Since we’re all curious minds, we were all satisfied because there was so much to learn.
Nevertheless, eventually, disillusion set in. It was not enough and paycheck raises didn’t help. We were all longing for more. Discussions began to emerge which shared the prevailing image of the millennial as a common theme — dissatisfied and ungrateful. But what’s the root of this dissatisfaction?
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
If you searched for purpose in life and have read some blog posts or books about it or you studied psychology as a major, you most likely came across Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This psychological theory was first introduced in a paper by Abraham Maslow in 1943 and tried to explain what motivates humans and what basic needs have to be covered in order for them to reach satisfaction. The theory states, that whenever one goal is reached, the next higher emerges.
If we look at ourselves again, we realize, that physiological, safety and love needs are mostly satisfied, resulting in the emergence of the next higher needs of esteem and self-actualization.
The same applies to us in the workforce, where big companies tend to provide free coffee, pay high salaries, pay for further education and even establish sports activities and leisure events to satisfy our needs. But as we learned before, all this doesn’t cut it.
To overcome this, big tech companies like Google try to address these higher goals as well. Their 20% time, where each employee can dedicate 20% of paid work time on what they think will benefit Google most, is probably their most famous example. More and more tech companies like Facebook or Zalando jump on the bandwagon and also try to address these higher goals with the hope to satisfy more of our needs.
These aforementioned companies were clearly on our agenda when thinking about our future career. Some of us quit their safe jobs and joined more progressive companies with the hope to satisfy higher needs. But we quickly realized, that if we really wanted to live to our full potential, we had to be able to set our own rules and governance.
It was bound to happen, when we met at our 3-monthly class reunion and some of us started tinkering about founding our own company. A few evenings and a few beers later the idea of Earlybyte was born. The idea of helping medium-sized companies with little or no software development expertise not to be left behind and becoming irrelevant due to missing or delayed digitalization.
What started as a side gig, similar to Google’s 20% time, quickly turned into the main act, a real software company. After 1 year of trying to run Earlybyte alongside our regular jobs and after successfully completing a handful of medium-sized projects, we decided last summer to go all-in. We quit our jobs again and embarked on the journey to entrepreneurship.
Now we are able to set our own core values, strategy, tech stack and to select our own clients. What better way of satisfying our higher goals than having accountability for a company, getting first-hand feedback from our clients and setting our own agenda?
If you recognize yourself in the paragraphs above, would like more details on a topic or even want to share your story, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Be it for a chat, coffee, beer or possibly even to join us. We’re always eager to connect with like-minded people and companies. Also, be sure to check out our careers page.
About the Author
Michael Sladoje is Co-Founder, CTO and Mobile Engineer at Earlybyte.
Earlybyte is an IT consultancy firm specialized in developing new digital solutions for companies around the world from digitalization to IoT solutions, close to the client and its business embracing agility.