It felt like a very corporate decision-making process where I was the dysfunctional arm that needed chopping of. It has been over a month I left the start-up I help build and I still fail to understand why everything ended the way it ended on the very last day. I was supposed I hear back from the company on why I was not being paid for a month after I was already in the employment for the whole month. To be fair, the way things were going and the amount of work there was, I do expect delays. However, here is my side of the story.
Brace yourself for a rant of a lifetime!
Sometime in end of March 2021 I handed a formal notice from a full time post as a CTO and my intention was to serve 3 months and so was discussed. Come end of April 2021, I had found 2 opportunities and had already accepted one of those where I had mentioned that my notice would be 3 months. I was going back to Capital On Tap, almost felt like going home after a rough day out. Before the month end, I proposed to my fellow peers that I leave the company early which will save the company 2 months of my salary and I will make myself available when needed to support the team or a new CTO. My decision to spare more time without charging them was fuelled by the fact that I had put a tremendous amount of time and energy into building this product, and I selfishly wanted it to succeed. There was also a team in India that I built from scratch and up skilled each one of them. The company had other ideas and they were unethical to say the least.
Regardless, on the very last day, a bomb is dropped, and it is said that the company will not be able to pay me for the month of April on the day and will be paying it in the month of June given I deliver the promised requirements and given the company has funds. Mind you, this was a full-time employment contract and this was the last day of my employment.
Who on earth tells one of their employees they are not getting paid for the month on their last payday?
I was pretty much speechless and deeply hurt! More so, because I was stupid enough to trust the company that they will be able to sort out the finances, knowing my financial situation is quite different to all other founders and this would be something that would put a strain on me. The way it was done was so grim that I still suffer from bouts of anger and frustration to a point that I would just not spend a single moment thinking about it. I find writing about these thoughts and experiences help, and hence, you get to read them too.
There I was, on my last day at the start-up, in a meeting of a company with less than 15 people behaving as a corporate. Whatever work I did for the month of April was not going to be paid for until June. So, I had been jobless for a month and I did not even know about it, let alone plan for it. I had DD's coming out the next working day and had to move money around immediately. It would be little to say it is shameful and unethical to do such a thing without one's consent. I wonder, had I stayed, what else was there in store for me.
In later communication during the month of May 2021, it was made clear that I would actually not be paid for the month of April at all, not even in June 2021. Not even if the company was successful and eventually made money. In the same email, I received my P-45, and it mentions my last working day was in end of March 2021. In the same communication it was also promised that I would potentially get to know the company's side of the story, but I am yet to hear a word. Again, not surprising at all, given the fact this is how they make decisions for someone who is part of the team.
What surprised me the most is the people and the decisions they made. The decisions they make lives with others and is important for them to reflect on. It seems the only thing that was cared about is making sure the ship keeps afloat, while completely losing count of how many people are thrown off board in the process.
I have learned that one's sanity should be the most revered aspect of one's nature.
Regardless of what happens next, what happened with me will always affect the way I make decisions and will always ensure I uphold ethical values that others chose not to. I had a huge part to play in why I left the start-up but on the same note the burning of the bridge started the day I crossed it.
I am definitely not jobless now and working with the people (Capital On Tap) who have been with me through some toughest of times (Baby, sleepless nights, ILR, First House and what not). It is rightly said:
It is the people who make the company.