From The Front Lines: Working At A Startup

A few different images come to mind when people hear the word ‘startup’ – some people imagine a handful of devs putting in 70-hour work weeks in a broom closet; others see chic offices full of hipsters playing table tennis, their dogs fetching errant balls. With Startup Open House Toronto happening this week, we thought we’d give you our own employees’ take on what it’s really like working for a startup.
The startup world provides an environment that’s rare in the corporate world – unique challenges and the freedom to experiment.
Mehrsa, Thendup, and MarissaMehrsa, Thendup, and Marissa


Marissa Liu had just finished her first year of university when she joined us for a summer co-op.

“I didn’t come in with the same experience and knowledge as the developers,” she said, but that didn’t stop her from jumping in head-first. Eager to learn, she was coding from day one.

Working on a lean team means you might have to wear a few hats, and we don’t shy away from that; Marissa was excited to get a breadth of experience.

“I can honestly say that I’ve learned more in three weeks here than an entire semester at school.”

– Marissa Liu, Developer Co-op

“I spent a lot of time meeting new members and everyone was super welcoming and friendly. The learning curve has been exactly what I was looking for. I’m rotating through different teams, having spent time with the software development team and the data science team already.”


A pivotal member of our front-end development team, Thendup Tsering felt right at home from the start.

“Out of school, I got offers from ThinkData Works and from Blackberry. I chose ThinkData Works because I wanted to try out the startup life,” he said. After a successful co-op term, Thendup was offered a full-time contract and jumped at the opportunity. “I felt valued for the work I did, the contribution I made.”

“As part of a smaller company, it’s exciting to be able to work on new features from ground up … there’s a lot of joy when I get to work on something and see that it’s useful for our clients.”

– Thendup Tsering, Front-end Developer

Thendup also recognizes that life in a startup means getting to experiment with bleeding-edge technology, something most large companies simply can’t do, and that means we’re able to grow with our clients’ needs instead of playing catch-up. “The work we do here is leading-edge in this field.”


“Before ThinkData Works I was working in a large Canadian bank,” says Mehrsa Golestaneh, who is now heading up ThinkData’s data science division. “I wanted a more fast-paced growth. As part of a smaller company, I have the opportunity to work on innovating the solutions as well as presenting them to clients who want them ‘right now.'”

“You don’t feel like a tiny part of very big machine here. You can the see the effects and work in a more collaborative environment. What you do matters.”

– Mehrsa Golestaneh, Data Scientist

Mehrsa designs truly amazing solutions using the most advanced machine learning tools, but on top of that, the culture here really complements her personality. “We do one-on-ones outside of our usual team which means getting to spend time speaking with someone you don’t work with normally.”

We try to organize as many fun social events as possible, and it’s easy to hang out, welcome a new staff member, play games, watch Futurama, or whatever it is we’ve got planned that night.

The TDW team at our annual retreat in the Muskokas

Taking part in Startup Open House is an exciting opportunity to share our story and our space. Sure, we’ve got job openings we’d love to fill, but we’re just as interested in making connections with other movers and shakers in Toronto. After all, Toronto’s tech scene is booming and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. In fact, VP of Product at Shopify, Satish Kanwar, says that “Startup Open House is one of the most important annual startup events in Canada … By opening doors for anyone to learn about startups in Canada, this event is also simply a celebration of the diversity and richness of our ecosystem.”

Make sure you fill up your visit list on the Startup Open House website – and make sure ThinkData Works is one of your stops!

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