The "glamour" of start-ups
You sit at your desk and think, “damn, I know I have way more potential than just sitting here and doing tasks even a monkey could do”. Start-ups excite you: stock options, amazing perks and an opportunity to be part of something huge. The potential to get filthy rich off stock options (imagine if you were a founding employee of Facebook) means if you play your cards right, you might even be able to retire and live the rest of your life off early company shares. But heres a word of warning: be careful of the flashy marketing. The hours and pay are varied across start-ups, and a lot of it depends on where the start-up is in its journey.
You need to choose wisely and understand that the “Facebook” story is one in a million. If you value stability, structure, and love what you do, we would say, stay where you are. But if you want to dip your toe into the start-up world, and try your luck on picking an eventual winner that will IPO, then keep on reading.
The jump from a traditional desk job to lean start-up is fraught with risk. Like many things, the start-up life is glamorised in movies and tv shows. But there is a sweet spot amongst the many founder-led ventures that litter the AusCorp landscape. Here’s a quick summary:
Seed to Series A, less than $10m market-cap: The high risk, high reward option. You will be offered loads of stock options and the exciting opportunity of being “one of the first”. This might sound great but expect a potential pay cut of up to 50% (70k would be considered great) and gruelling hours due to the lean staffing. Forget gym memberships, free treats and barista coffee, all that money is there to grow the business, not to appease your own selfish desires! Apply within if you’re a dreamer. Examples: WhiskyLoot, 86 400
Series B – D (>50mm): The sweet spot. Expect decent stock options as the company continues to grow (but this time, with money). You’ll be enticed with above-market compensation (some pay even better than IB) and there is a clear structure and programs within these firms. Promotions are fairly easy so there’s still room to grow. Examples: Volt Bank, Myriota
Unicorn: Worth a look at a senior level (head of division, VP etc). This kind of start-up isnt really a start-up anymore. Having established itself as a market leader, exponential growth is not as forthcoming anymore. Naturally offers limited stock options but great bonuses and the pay is excellent too. You’ll get amazing perks in a stable but agile “tech” environment. Hit these guys up after a big funding round as they will be armed with cash to splash. Examples: Atlassian, Canva
The jump to a start-up can be scary, but a sure-fire way to potential riches if you land the right fish. If you’re a dreamer, this might seem super appealing to you, but just make sure you’re not blinded by someone else’s visions and dreams. After all, a salary is what keeps your roof over your head. Before we leave you, we just want to plug the legends over at Think & Grow, who have a super handy (and detailed!) salary guide (https://www.thinkandgrowinc.com/salary-guide-2021). They’re doing great things in the start-up space, so for anyone who is thinking about this, we would encourage you to check them out.