Google churns out great products, but that's not the only thing the tech company is continually creating. It's also an entrepreneur factory. Ex-Googlers have gone on to found plenty of successful startups. When top VC firm First Round Capital examined its data to determine which founders are most likely to succeed, they even concluded that being ex-Google was a definite leg up.

So why does a stint at the tech giant increase your chances of entrepreneurial success? Is it something in the water in Mountain View? Or maybe the explanation is simply that Google only hires the best, so it's no wonder that the company's alums go on to be successful in whatever they choose to do after leaving?

Former-Googler turned investor Hunter Walk thinks it's something else. While he concedes that talent abounds at Google, on Medium recently he argued that working at the company actually teaches you two subtle but important lessons that make it more likely you'll succeed as an entrepreneur.

How fast can we push this baby?

In the post, he argues that there is "a subtle advantage that people who've worked at transformative tech companies have over people who haven't. It's not that the average employee from Google, Apple, Facebook, etc., is necessarily smarter or more capable than any other person. I mean, maybe they are on average, but I'm not making the case that just because they passed a hiring screen that makes them worthwhile." Instead, Walk feels "there are two learnings that I've generally found to be more highly concentrated among those with experience at transformative companies versus those who haven't."

What are they? Here's what ex-Googlers (and other veterans of hugely successful startups) tend to know that other would-be entrepreneurs don't, according to Walk:

  • Understand what motivates exceptional achievers
  • Know what high-performance teams feel like

Which isn't to say there aren't plenty of ex-Googlers who missed these essential takeaways. But, Walk explains, working at a place like Google makes it more likely a would-be founder understands these two things.

Why are they so valuable? The first, Walk notes, is key for hiring. If you understand just how motivating doing good and challenging work can be, you'll be far better placed to attract top talent when your company is still more dream than reality. If you don't get it, you're likely to say things like, "How will we be able to hire that engineer? I mean, he seems interested, but we can't pay as well as his current job," he says.

The second lesson is all about pace. If you haven't personally experienced how fast a high-functioning startup can move, it's hard to get your head around exactly how much distance it's possible to cover with the right team and the right work ethic. "It's necessary to have people within a startup who are pacesetters or know that it's OK to push harder," Walk writes. "It's why I tell many new grads that fast-growing midstage startups are their best first job in tech. Learn great habits from great people at a special time." 

If you're interested in reading more of Hunter Walk's insights, you can check out his blog here.

Published on: Nov 9, 2015