“Why not just work on your startup, while still being employed ?”

I have had more friends / colleagues asking me this question recently..

“Why not just work on your startup while still in AdventNet and once it start making some decent money you can then quit ?”

That is not the right approach for a few reasons..

#1 : You cannot focus well on your job.
#2 : You cannot focus well on your startup.
#3 : The work which you did during your employment, might belong to your employer and not you.

Read this thread in Hacker News for details on how one employee was ignorant of such issues and now his over Rs.4.5 crores / month earnings from his startup might actually belong to his employer.

Quotes from the thread…

9 points by samson 29 days ago | link
“The tragic part for Maestri, at least is that if he’d just waited until he’d left Freewebs to begin development, his former employer would have a far harder time making the charges stick.”

So legally, the advice that I’ve heard (even here at hacker news) of keeping your day job, and work on your project on the side is usually wrong. And even more so if you work at a tech company already

3 points by nickb 29 days ago | link

That’s a great question!It depends on your employment contract and the law in your state/country. It also depends greatly on the area your startup’s in and whether your startup is even remotely similar to what your employer is doing and whether you might become their competition down the line.

A chance of getting entangled in a lawsuit increases exponentially if you’re going to take on your employer. Also, most emp contracts usually also state that you cannot contact your employer’s customers or people you met through the company’s business engagements for at least a year and usually more. Also, don’t try to poach current employees or you’ll get sued. Never use employer’s computers or any other equipment that belongs to them for working on your startup (that includes take-home laptop that they might have given you). Don’t even use their Word or Outlook for your own stuff. Delineate your startup as much as possible and don’t share your ideas/prototypes with anyone at work since they might testify against you when called in front of a judge.

I know of one entrepreneur who got sued by a former employer and the argument they used was that even though he quit before he started the company, the IDEA was conceived while he was working for them and that he could not have come up with the idea had he not worked for them. Needless to say, the charge was ludicrous but it diverted his focus off startup and it also scared some investors and the startup was stillborn.

PS: IANAL but I know a lot about law and have been advised by many lawyers so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Also, in my personal opinion, the below point is important…

1 point by startingup 29 days ago | link
Let’s also consider an employer’s perspective here. OK, you are a Y Combinator start-up, and you have hired your 18th employee (there are at least 10 that have 20+ employees, I think). If that employee were doing something like this on the side, would that sit well with you? How would you draw the line?

Forget the ownership aspects of whatever the employee is creating on the side. Would you be happy as his/her manager to realize his/her mental efforts are going somewhere else?

Think hard before you answer

My advice to you :

Don’t do something stupid. Don’t say something like “I will make sure it is not known”.

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well; with all your effort and focus.

Plan and execute it well. All the best !!


5 Responses to “Why not just work on your startup, while still being employed ?”

  1. chandrars says:

    Nice one raj.

    I strongly agree your point “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well; with all your effort and focus.”

    All the Best for your future endeavours.

  2. aaa says:

    will u compete with adventnet at some point in the future?
    Or what if adventnet competes with u?

  3. rrajkumar says:

    “will u compete with adventnet at some point in the future?”

    No, I don’t plan to. I will stay as much complementary as possible. Because, when I acquire AdventNet after a few years (it is really hard to find and acquire companies which have similar work culture), I don’t want conflicting teams. And yes, I will retain Sridhar Vembu as CEO and retire myself ;-).

    // And before that retirement step, I would try to identify you and then fire you for not putting your name, when you ask such questions. Anonymous coward 🙂 !!

    “Or what if adventnet competes with u?”

    That means AdventNet does not want to get acquired by me 😦 . I would do what any other business would do, when AdventNet competes with them.

  4. aaa says:

    Is it going to be a sole proprietorship or private firm? Registered in India?

  5. rrajkumar says:

    Sole proprietorship initially and later a Pvt. Ltd company, registered in India.

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