14. january 2021

How to survive your first year in a fintech startup

LOCKDOWN EDITION: Make your first year in a startup - even in the midst of a pandemic - as smooth as it can get.


Did you fall in love with a job in a fintech startup, but can’t help to wonder how on earth you’ll get through the first year - especially during Covid-19? 

We made a survival guide for you - whether you are fresh out of school, from a traditional corporate environment or something completely else. 

Here it goes (oh, and if you speak one of the Nordic languages, mixing it with English is inevitable)

1. Make a lot of mistakes

There is zero chance of getting through your first year (or the next 10…) in a startup without making mistakes. So completely ditch all fear of failing and spend your time sharing your wisdom of what went wrong - so others do not have to repeat the same mistakes. 

2. Leave hierarchies at the door

In a startup, organisational charts are only made to be changed. The only constant is change. Of course the work needs to be organised, you need a chain of command - but do not get knocked out of your seat if the person who joined as a student assistant six months ago now heads a project or team. If you have ambition to develop your skills and perhaps take on leadership roles, a startup is ideal. 

3. Change it yourself

Never accept the status quo, don't complain in the back or expect that “someone” will listen and fix it. That someone is you - and you can actually change, improve and leverage your coworkers. Just do it.

Lunar fridge

4. Be somewhat of a janitor

You are going to assemble furniture, carry pallets of energy drinks up the stairs and participate in numerous discussions about putting your coffee mug in the dishwasher. But you will not survive the first year if you are too posh to get your hands dirty.

You might join as a specialist, but if you have a mindset of “I am sure another department will take care of that” you will not get far.
But hey, maybe working from home will give you new competencies within facility management, catering, setting up a workstation and only complaining to… yourself (seriously, we are at a point missing the dirty mug discussions more than ever!).

5. Be the customer you want to attract

The attitude of “I am sure it is a great product for people who like that sort of thing” is totally off. Feel the pain your company tries to ease. Understand the problem you want to solve. Be a super-user of the product and never distance yourself from it - whether are in the direct target group or not.
So in between hangout meetings and zoom calls, dig into the product and get to know every corner of it. 

6. Chaos is your buddy

Are you working from home AND taking care of your kids at the same time? We salute you!

But actually having kids can be an advantage when joining a startup: Your life is already pretty chaotic, you are used to navigating in one big mess, daily tantrums, absurd expectations and sleepless nights. 

People in startups have kids - they also spend time with them, pick them up and take parental leave. Startup companies often have a 2021 mentality that entails a focus on a balanced lifestyle and a positive attitude towards remote work and flexible working hours. As long as you have WIFI you are good to go!

7. Learn some startup lingo

A little bluffer's guide to fit in right away (at least in Lunar).
In a startup people can easily end up in different directions or products and ideas can spin off its course. So there is a lot of lingo to make sure that does not happen (too much…)

  • Let’s align with X. Meaning: We are actually aware that we forgot to give important information to other people in the org. Let’s fix it!
  • Touch base. The most hated office jargon also contaminated startups. It is basically just following up on something.
  • We should calibrate with the new data. Meaning: Ok, something is happening that we did not expect. Fix it!

Speaking of data (notice. Never BIG data. Just data). ALWAYS what data says, because someone will ask you (earn points every time you suggest a new dashboard for something).

VC’s. The venture capitalists you try to impress. If your company is not profitable yet you rely on OPM (Other People's Money. Extra credit for casually throwing a “which VC’s are we speaking to at the moment” into the conversation.

Hockey stick. All you really need is a growth curve shaped like that.

Scale-up. Technically Lunar is a scale-up including both a product on the market, toilet paper and lunch. So everyone is super ready for hyper growth (and this is where you go nuts with the rocket and unicorn emojis. If you worked at a startup for more than a year, you most likely suffer from “rocket-and-unicorn-emoji” fatigue). 

Scalable. If you are looking to impress your new coworkers ask if the idea you are discussing is scalable. Everyone will give you a nod of recognition.
You are welcome! 

SOFU! Meaning: Speed up! Don’t put it in your annual plan - do it now! Sense of f..... urgency.

Lunar meeting

New year, new career?

That way your first year - even in the midst of a pandemic - will pass easy, fast and without any hassle (that is by the way three things you should always say about your product).

We are looking for new talent - if you are considering a career in a startup, perhaps we are exactly what you are looking for. Check out career opportunities here!

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