What is it like to be an early employee at a rapidly growing startup? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Aston Motes, worked at Dropbox and OkCupid, Musician, on Quora:

Whenever people talk about fast growing companies, they call them "rocket ships," which is supposed hint at the company taking off at incredible speed, heading to great heights. But the more important part of the metaphor is that it's a vehicle that you just kind of ride along in, and when it's really accelerating fast, you just need to try to hang on to something until you reach escape velocity.

That was in a lot of ways my experience at Dropbox. When I first joined, it was almost completely unknown and certainly wasn't taking off, but it had a lot of potential. Not too long after we launched, however, it became clear that the company was growing way faster than any of us ever thought possible, and it has pretty much stayed that way since. For my part, I always felt incredibly lucky to be along for the ride, and to contribute in the ways I could (I built the early versions of the website and the API, as well as our first payments system). But as I watched the company grow, I came to appreciate that it was more self-propelled than powered by us. We had a lot of amazing folks at Dropbox, but we were perpetually a much smaller team than our product made us appear to be. So as Dropbox became a phenomenon, we had to work super hard just to keep up with demand, which was an amazing feeling, but of course it was not without it's ups and downs. Overall though, my time at Dropbox was a crazy thrilling and rewarding ride.

As of writing, Dropbox has not IPO'd yet, so we're still waiting for escape velocity...

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Published on: Oct 5, 2017