You know you work at a startup when...

by Jess Ryan
January 30, 2017

Here at Built In Colorado, we spend a lot of time celebrating the #startuplife and what it can offer talented Coloradans from multiple disciplines. But while the community as a whole has some common ground, each company has its own approach to living the startup life.

To give you a look at these different mindsets, we had a few Colorado companies share what startup life looks like to them — from late nights to big wins.


Andy Zurcher is Dobot’s senior vice president of product. Dobot's personal finance app helps people set (and stick to) their budgets, along with meeting their savings goals.

“You know you work at a startup when you arrive at the office at 6:15 a.m. and you're not the first one there. I hear a lot about #startuplife as though it's all fun and happy hours, wearing shorts and flip-flops to work, making your own hours etc. Although those things are somewhat true, the reality isn't quite as glamorous. The amount of work that's required is intense, there is uncertainty regarding the future, challenging decisions arise on a daily basis and you typically wear many different hats. It can be tough… but startup life is awesome!”


Missing content item.

Layer3 TV is using tech to revolutionize the way we watch TV. Here’s what Layer3's CEO Jeff Binder had to say:

“You know you work a startup when your day flies by, whether good or bad; you are asked to wear more hats than you have fingers; you are taking on challenges that others say can’t be done; you find out some of the really ‘hard’ things are easy, and some of the really ‘easy' things are hard; and you pick up a guitar and serenade a colleague during a meeting.”

Missing content item.


Boulder startup hobbyDB is creating a massive database of every collectible item out there. One of their newest employees is data Jedi Emma Vaughn, who shared with us her thoughts.

"You know you work at a startup when your soul begins reviving after years of corporate trying to squash it out of you from B.S. (Before Startup). As your soul revives, you notice that you’ve already worked 12 months on what was meant to be an overnight success… but it's all good since you get to work with some other crazy folks who you love while getting closer and closer every day to product/market fit. When you learn more than you ever thought there was to learn about something insanely specific that may not help you in any other job but may just come in handy during trivia. While looking around your wall-less office space at some other crazy creative startups and Star Wars decals stare at you judgingly, you come to terms with the fact that the best startup perks include organic snacks, coconut water and nerf gun fights. And you know that in the end, no matter what happens, it was all worth it."


Brandzooka is an adtech company that puts existing video collateral to good use by handling ad buys and placing that content all over the internet. The team put in a collective effort to give their response:

“You know you’re in a startup when you have more investors lined up than clean pairs of underwear, you wince at the word ‘pivot,’ jump when you hear ‘ASAP,’ wish you could keep coffee in an IV bag and you purchased a waterproof phone so you can check Slack during your morning shower.”


Wendi Burkhardt is CEO and co-founder of Silvernest, a startup that connects baby boomers and empty nesters with people looking for a place to live.

"You know you work at a startup when you’re basically sleepless, stressed and find yourself sacrificing some of the known comforts that you’re used to, such as a great salary and regular visits with friends (sorry everyone!). One of the big trials of startup life is that you never turn off. Even on the occasional planned day off, my brain is constantly churning and thinking of ways to grow Silvernest or solve the latest challenge to arise. On the plus side, startups force you to live fully in the present moment and be the most creative version of yourself that you can be. In a world where there is not a clear playbook, you have to constantly think out of the box, be willing to shift quickly and, most of all, learn to trust yourself and your capabilities.”


Photos via featured companies. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

What does startup life mean to you? Tell us on Twitter: mention us @builtincolorado and use #techlovesCO.

Jobs from companies in this blog

Colorado startup guides

Best Companies to Work for in Denver & Boulder
Coolest Tech Offices in Denver & Colorado Tech
Best Perks at Colorado Tech Companies
Women in Colorado Tech