Considerations if you Want to Join a Startup
Obtain guidance on how to identify the best startup opportunity for you based on your role, stage, and other considerations.
Three areas to consider when diving into startup world
I often meet with people who say they want to join a startup. If you ask them what that means, the answers can be quite varied. Usually I inquire more into why they want to join a startup and what their strengths are as that can better direct the best potential path. Here are a few things to consider to identify what type of startup is best for you.
Founder or Not
One of the earliest things to decide is do you want to start your own company or join an existing one. Some people prefer the creative and 0-1 part of the process; others perform much better when something is already created and they can focus more on execution. Be aware of your personality and strengths when making this choice. If you enjoy setting the direction, making all critical decisions, and are okay with the stress of being in charge then the founder role may be right for you. If you prefer more executing and improving on someone else’s vision then joining an existing startup may be a wiser choice.
Early Stage or Later Stage
An idea stage startup is very different from a startup who just raised a $50M Series C round. The earlier you go, the more you will have a direct impact on the future of the business as you will get pulled into all different functional challenges. Your cash comp will be below market, but you may have some strong equity upside (albeit with high risk). The later stage you go, the more likely you will be put into a specific functional role (i.e. finance, marketing, etc.) Cash comp will be closer to market rate, but equity upside is likely much lower (although less risky). Another thing to consider is processes and operational flow. Earlier stage startups often have very little, if any, processes to follow, whereas later stage startups will usually have some form of process.
Industry, Technology, Geography, etc.
Once you've landed on a certain role and stage, there’s still other considerations. Are you coming from a certain industry and want to find a startup where you can already leverage your knowledge? Is there a certain type of technology you like to work with (or don’t like to work with)? Do you want to be part of a team in a local office or do you prefer to work remotely? All of these can be additional considerations into what might be the best fit for you.
Joining a startup can be a lot of fun and life changing. One easy way to start exploring is to attend some local entrepreneur events in your community (i.e. in Atlanta, go to events at places like Atlanta Tech Village and many others). Start talking to folks in the startup ecosystem, learn what they are building, and find a space you are passionate about.
FYI - here are some startup job boards at Atlanta Ventures companies.