Neighbourhood Chat Platform Belong Documents Day At Startup

Bangalore based neighbourhood chat app startup Belong (Earlier, Hey Neighbor) started a fun experiment called StartupDiary to document a day at a startup. They figured that their story wasn’t a one off, and a lot of other startups could relate with the same. So, they decided to share it with us. “Contrary to popular beliefs , a startup isn’t a bed of roses. If you’re associated with one, you probably know that already. Here’s to all the startups around us.”, says the team at Belong.

What’s it like to work at a startup (in no particular order)


When the team is small, most of the conversations happen over group chat like Telegram. We love using Telegram because hey, who doesn’t love stickers and sending cat gifs? After all, it helps increase our productivity. But as the team grows, we need to look for other alternatives that are specific to work and integrates well with other services. Eventually we decided to give Slack a try. You know your team is growing when you use a workflow management tool like Slack.


Lunch time is usually when everyone gets hungry. When does one get hungry? No one can predict. But when they do, it’s a really tough time to decide where to order from(assuming you don’t have a catering service in office). Everyone has a different choice when it comes to food. Healthy food isn’t tasty and tasty food isn’t healthy. To make this decision making more complex, you have vegetarians! Some really productive time is lost when you have to decide(convince others) what to eat and order the food.


Office Timings

On the ‘Work with us’ or ‘Careers’ page of most startups, you might’ve already notice the phrase flexible working hours. A startup isn’t your average 9–5 job so expect to work on weekends as well(just a heads up)! The tech team is usually late to office. It’s probably safe to assume that their day begins at 12 pm.

User feedback

One thing that’s important for both product & service based startups is User feedback. For an app based startup, A-B testing is a great way of testing your on-boarding & UX. However, it is time consuming to implement this. What’s the “jugaad” way of doing this? Simply walk into a coffee shop and talk to people. Ask them if they can give some feedback & take part in this activity. What are the possibilities?

  • Yes-Awesome! Get this done. Be sure to document the activity- either take notes or a video of the entire thing (or both). Don’t forget to offer them a cup o’ coffee once you’re done.
  • No-Say thank you and move on.



Priority wise, this should’ve been at the top of this post. Coffee plays a really important role in startups. Right from those billion dollar startup ideas that came off from a coffee table conversation to keeping coders focussed on their work. After all, we know that programmers are organisms that turn coffee to code. Employees spend a lot of time making coffee(unless you have a coffee machine). Here’s a pro-tip from us- Get 3 in 1 coffee that saves time and gives a consistent taste.

Team Meetings

Startups usually have meetings with everyone from all the team to decide the product roadmap. Usually the way this happens is the marketing/community team tells about features that users have been asking for & those that gives them an edge over their competitors (if any). The tech team gets into the technical feasibility & setting timelines for these features. This is the moment when the developers start talking Javascript, database schemas and continuous integration which the marketing team has little to no idea about! At the end of these meetings, it’s usually a practice to have the tech team explain all of these in “English”.

Alcohol policy

What’s a startup without alcohol! The fridge is always loaded with normal drinks for casual occasions, whiskey when you’re doing an all-nighter in office fixing bugs and beer for the rest of week. Oh, and one for special occasions as well.

Office furniture

You’re apparently not considered a startup if you don’t have a bean bag in office. It’s actually interesting that the culture of an office is defined by bean bags, to an extent where corporates try to embrace the “startup culture” by bringing in more bean bags over their ergonomic chairs.

Living in office

Remember those times when you had a server side bug fix? Or an internal hackathon at office? Or even an all hands during which the entire team pulls an all-nighter in office? Well, if you thought that’s fun, think about a co-founder who lives in office. What’s the best part? You’re never locked out of office no matter how early you come. You can leave as late as you want and will still have company. You don’t even have to worry about switching off the AC if you’re leaving last!

Pet friendly office

Most of the “cool startups” have pets. It requires a lot of convincing, but remember, unless all the employees are cool with the idea of having a pet, never have a pet. It’s a responsibility and usually since the co-founders are the only ones who are married and has kids, they understand the pain of having something that needs to be fed and poops all around. At home, this is easy, but in an office, no one has time to do this(unless you have an employee dedicated to do this). Unless you’re willing to take it up, don’t get a pet in office.

Employee happiness

This one is exclusively for the founders/co-founders of startups. In a startup, you literally have to go to any extent to make your employees happy. Even if that means making chai for the entire team. Apparently running the company isn’t your only responsibility.

Compromise & sacrifice

startup compromise

In a startup, you’ve got to make a lot of compromises and sacrifices. Even if it means losing the things that mean the most to you or pivoting from an idea you love. These are difficult times and this is when the team needs to stay together.

[This post was submitted to OfficeChai by neighbourhood chat platform Belong under our ‘First Person’ series.

You too can share stories from your workplace and life at a startup. Write to us.]

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