I've never hidden the fact that I'm partial to high-tech startup companies and what testing is like in that environment (see here, there, way back in 2007, and a couple weeks ago). We're not really talking software startups - I've mostly been involved in companies that were commercializing some new work that came out of Harvard, MIT, Columbia, government labs, or something similar.
In the past week two articles were published addressing two separate issues about startup companies: acquisition of them and doing business with them.
A Wall Street Journal article points out that bigger companies are increasingly getting new talent and ideas through buying startup companies. The author correctly points out that for the people who worked at the startup, getting bought out can be a mixed bag. While the article focuses exclusively on software startups, I'd say the points raised apply to hardware startups as well. I've been through that myself and the experience really depends on the culture of the company buying you and your own personality.
CIO wrote about some of the risks and rewards for working with a startup. Since software startups are in vogue, this article discusses them primarily. One thing they did point out rang a bell with me - startup companies don't have a strong customer support base. In my own experience as well as that of some friends, when they start to build that out one of the first things they do is look to pull a guy out of testing to help with customer support.
Think about it. The test engineer in a startup has by now (hopefully) developed the test platforms that you use. He knows the product very well since he's been testing it for a while, but he has more time on his hand once you're going into production. So you put him to work helping customers use the product he's already been using in end-case scenarios.