Going Big by Choosing Small

Austin Stoltzfus

It sounds like a paradox, but after working as an engineer for a large tech firm after college, I realized that if I wanted to build something big, I needed to be a part of something smaller.

When I say wanted to build something big, I mean I wanted to contribute more than a microscopic portion of a larger project. I wanted to create something from start to finish.

In my previous organization, I bounced around on a lot of projects and products. Some saw the light of day. Some didn’t. Or they would be changed just before they reached the finish line after word came down project parameters were being rewritten. I understand. It’s to be expected – that’s how things work. But it can also be a bit demoralizing.

The biggest differentiator between that and now working at Zylo – which was a small startup when I joined in 2016 as employee No. 1 – is the people I get to work with. Joining a startup, there’s an incredible opportunity to work directly with brilliant company starters – product minds, design minds, engineering minds – who all have a wealth of experience, the vision, and the drive to turn a big idea from nothing into a solution people need.

An Opportunity to be Challenged

I have to admit: As an engineer, it can sometimes be nice having the specifications for your work already decided for you. Working at a larger firm eliminates many of the challenges in deciding what to work on and when.

One of the chief challenges of working at a startup is the trade-off of having a comfortable well-defined process versus moving, making decisions, and taking action – all very quickly. But that trade-off is also appealing because moving quickly means you have a greater say in what gets worked on.

There’s a balance between being able to move quickly and having time to plan, but as we’ve grown the engineering team and the company has matured, I’ve had the opportunity to build quality and process improvement frameworks that have allowed our developers to move fast and get more high-quality work accomplished in a shorter amount of time.

A Wider View of Contribution

Before Zylo, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to see big-picture product road maps and know what kinds of features or products I would be working on next. But because Zylo’s smaller size leads to near-constant collaboration, I get to see the larger road map and contribute to its direction. I know what’s coming next and why.

Projects aren’t just “thrown over the wall” – you get a lot of insight and input into the reasons for what we’re building, including customer feedback. It’s a great feeling to have a customer reply to your work and say “this is exactly what we needed.” It inspires us to create the next feature and keeps us focused on continuing to create value for customers.

Joining Team Zylo

When I talk to others about joining Zylo, the first thing I always talk about is the team. Every time. Knowing how many people we have on our team who are driven to accomplish big things, but still keep a team-first humble mentality, it’s truly our greatest asset.

There are always people willing to help. There are always people willing to collaborate to hash out problems or tag-team solutions. Everybody benefits from that collaborative style – and we have fun while we do it.

Another thing about our fast pace is that you do see our values in action every day. We do set out to achieve huge, audacious goals, but part of that is you have a team to back you to get there together.

I still feel like I made the right decision in joining Zylo three years ago. That decision gets validated almost every day when I see the work we are accomplishing and the company’s growth. If you think you have what it takes to join a startup that’s doing big things and growing quickly, take a look at our current positions.

And if you’re like me and you value putting trust in a small (but brilliant) team to achieve something remarkable, you won’t be disappointed.

About the Author

Austin Stoltzfus

Zylo’s first full-time employee uses his engineering skills to create intuitive solutions to customers' SaaS management challenges. Austin is a graduate of Taylor University who is passionate about people-driven software development. Outside of work, he can be found cooking, reading, camping, and cheering on his favorite team: the Phillies.