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How to Find the Perfect Startup Job - An Insider's Guide to Finding, Vetting, and Negotiating

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Veteran tech VC David Beisel draws on nearly 20 years of hearing the same question more than most: How do I find that perfect startup to join? In this guide, learn what crucial questions to ask employers, as well as a process to run to find, vet, and negotiate with the best startups in your city. Whether you're doing marketing, sales, product, design, or you're a jack-of-all-trades, we built this ebook with one thing in mind, which is the vast majority of the startup world (not founders, but the TEAM!)

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How to Find the Perfect Startup Job - An Insider's Guide to Finding, Vetting, and Negotiating

  1. David Beisel Tech Entrepreneur VC Partner & Co-founder
  2. Whether you’re excited about your first startup adventure…
  3. Or you’re a seasoned tech insider…
  4. Finding that one perfect startup job can be a huge challenge.
  5. For starters, there’s too much noise. How do you make sense of any of it?
  6. Then you’re sold a Dream. How do you learn the truth?
  7. And negotiations can be an awkward dance. How can you handle that more gracefully?
  8. And negotiations can be an awkward dance. How can you handle that more gracefully? (even more gracefully than Carlton…)
  9. ?As a VC, I get this question almost as often as I hear anything else:
  10. ?As a VC, I get this question almost as often as I hear anything else: 1.  How do I get my startup funded? 2.  How do I find a great startup job?
  11. So here are some practical tips to get you headed down the right path… So here are some practical tips to get you headed down the right path…
  12. So here are some practical tips to get you headed down the right path… So here are some practical tips to get you headed down the right path… (All are pulled from this free ebook, available now for download.) (All are pulled from this free ebook, available now for download.)
  13. 1
  14. The First Rule of Startups:
  15. Not All Startups Are Created Equal
  16. !   Saying you want to join a “startup” is too broad. So rather than say “what” you’re targeting (startups), think about WHEN you’re targeting them.
  17. !   Saying you want to join a “startup” is too broad. So rather than say “what” you’re targeting (startups), think about WHEN you’re targeting them. There are really 3 opportune times to join a startup that you should target…
  18. As early as you can tolerate
  19. When it’s already clearly growing
  20. When you can learn from someone or something truly special
  21. !   Unfortunately, this is where people tend to make the biggest mistake in any startup job search:
  22. !   Unfortunately, this is where people tend to make the biggest mistake in any startup job search: Joining a Series A or B startup because they think it’s “safe.”
  23. !   Unfortunately, this is where people tend to make the biggest mistake in any startup job search: Joining a Series A or B startup because they think it’s “safe.” (In reality, you have all the risk of the founders, but none of the reward.)
  24. 2
  25. To start making sense of the noise, search for heat. Then evaluate it critically.
  26. Don’t get blinded by sexy press or community buzz.
  27. Don’t get blinded by sexy press or community buzz. Heat is just a leading indicator. Your job is to narrow your list from there.
  28. Don’t get blinded by sexy press or community buzz. Heat is just a leading indicator. Your job is to narrow your list from there. A few DOs and DON’Ts that can help…
  29. !   DO DON’T Focus your search on specific verticals or themes. Ask a VC if “you have any job openings in your portfolio.” (Probably, but not a specific enough ask.) Ask lawyers & other service providers which of their clients are gaining the most traction lately. Spend tons of time browsing VC portfolios. (OK to start, but can’t decipher good from bad.) Research which companies have recently raised new rounds of funding. Tell others you’re a “business mind” seeking a tech team with a great product. (Surprisingly common. Rarely fruitful.)
  30. 3
  31. How do you get to the Reality behind the Dream?
  32. ? VCs get full transparency into numbers and have several interactions to learn more. Prospective employees get only what is volunteered and have just a few interactions with a startup.
  33. To get better informed, try asking these 4 questions… To get better informed, try asking these 4 questions…
  34. !   HIRING: What was your headcount 6 months ago? What will it be in 6 months? In 12? FINANCING: Who are your investors, and when was the last fundraise? SPENDING: What is the company burn rate, and what is its cash on hand? SPEED BUMPS: Has the company ever had a down, flat, or inside round? Any prior CEO changes?
  35. For an in-depth look at each of these four crucial areas, explore the full guide: (Click to trigger PDF download.)
  36. 4
  37. You did it. You ran a great process and navigated your way to a startup offer.
  38. You did it. You ran a great process and navigated your way to a startup offer. However…
  39. ?You now need a firm grasp of two key concepts, one of which tends to cause more than a little confusion among employees:
  40. ?You now need a firm grasp of two key concepts, one of which tends to cause more than a little confusion among employees: 1.  Salary 2.  Options
  41. ?You now need a firm grasp of two key concepts, one of which tends to cause more than a little confusion among employees: 1.  Salary 2.  OptionsOptions
  42. The single-most important thing to learn from a startup after getting an offer:
  43. The single-most important thing to learn from a startup after getting an offer: The # of fully diluted shares outstanding.
  44. The single-most important thing to learn from a startup after getting an offer: The # of fully diluted shares outstanding. Better yet: “What % of the company do my options represent?”
  45. !   That is the only way to know what the number of options in your offer is potentially worth – or whether it will be worth anything if the company exits someday.
  46. !   That is the only way to know what the number of options in your offer is potentially worth – or whether it will be worth anything if the company exits someday. 1,000 shares 5,000 shares 10,000 shares …all meaningless without that other missing piece!
  47. !   That is the only way to know what the number of options in your offer is potentially worth – or whether it will be worth anything if the company exits someday. 1,000 shares 5,000 shares 10,000 shares …all meaningless without that other missing piece! BEFORE YOU CLICK AHEAD: This is such a misunderstood part of any startup job offer, but it’s absolutely critical to grasp. To help, try bookmarking this roundup of resources on the topic.
  48. With salary and options as the levers, I’d suggest framing negotiations like this:
  49. IN CONCLUSION GET INFORMED. HAVE A PROCESS. BE DISCERNING. BUT IN THE END:
  50. (It’ll be the best damn job you ever have.)
  51. Download the Complete Ebook Join Thousands on Our Weekly Email I’m In >> (We reply with our most popular resources right away.) Insights, Stories, and Resources For Early-Stage Startup Teams

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