Technologists-turned-CTOs share why they quit their day job to start a company

At some point, most data scientists or developers have built something that they think has startup potential or dreamed of launching their own successful product. Yet, many developers end up sticking with their jobs.

So, what makes someone take the leap and chase the startup dream? We asked three developers-turned-founders what prompted them to leave their jobs and start a company. From lacking a sense of purpose to feeling uninspired, stifled, or unappreciated, learn what motivated these successful founders to leave their full-time jobs to start a business.

I wanted to solve a meaningful problem

"The decision to start something on my own came from a combination of feeling like I wanted to test myself, get real value from my own creations, and build something that I felt proud of. I never felt fully rewarded in my previous roles despite feeling like I was contributing significantly to the product. And despite caring about the technology, I didn't feel inspired by its application of it, which started to feel taxing after a while. I wanted to build something that would help bring about the type of world I want to live in."

John Modin, CTO,  Glint Solar

Your ideas become the vision of the company

"I never really felt I belonged in any work setting, seeing myself as an outsider for most of my professional career. It wasn't until I started a company that I finally felt a sense of real purpose and belonging. It's also hard to feel like you're making a difference when you're one of many in a large company. The diminishing value creation per employee didn't make it feel worth my time. When you work in a startup everyone's participation is critical to the success of the company, and that level of responsibility really motivates me.

Another reason was that I always felt a bit "ahead" in my thinking about technology. It was difficult to get people to agree with me and I wasn't senior enough to be able to make key decisions. This all changes when you start your own company; your ideas or technology become the foundation for the vision of the company.

It also feels great to build something that people are actually using. Knowing that you made the majority of the calls on the implementation details, then seeing it all come together and having customer demand is like no other feeling. Of course, when the product turns into something bigger more and more tasks will be delegated, but at least you know you've been there from the start."

Øyvind Sørøy, CTO, Sloyd

I felt uninspired in my consulting job

"I always knew I wanted to start a company one day. While studying I was doing a few projects on the side that I hoped would turn into something but that didn't work out. When I finished my studies, the plan was to move to Oslo and do something on my own, but then I got a job offer I couldn't say no to. So I ended up doing consulting for a while but felt really uninspired and realized that my original plan was the right one for me — to pursue entrepreneurship. At that point, I began to look for opportunities to start a business whilst trying to convince my friends to leave their jobs to join me. That's when I heard about Antler, which felt like a huge de-risk as I knew I'd meet like-minded and complimentary people who were looking to start a company. You can say that Antler was a catalyst for my entrepreneurial journey."

Olav Ljosland, CTO,  Modulize

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