Joining a Startup?

“May you live in interesting times” is a popular Chinese curse.

Confused if  you should join startup?

Confused! if you should join startup or not?

Well, I am not sure if it is a curse or not but as far as Indian IT industry is concerned, We are definitely living in interesting times. Not only Indian job market is flooded with job opportunities from large companies like Accenture, Infosys, TCSs etc.. There is a huge hiring drive from Startups as well.

This startup boom in India is fueled by  huge amount of VC funding available from over 300 VCs, several corporate VC funds, angel investors and incubator companies. Some of these startups understand that they need to pay more than the average salary in job market to attract talent, so it might not be a bad idea to join a startup.

A big percentage of people in India do not even consider joining a startup. It is a myth amongst job seekers that  joining a startup after you have worked in an established company is a bad idea. Typically in India people would like to move from a big company to an even bigger one, regardless of how monotonous or boring their work life is becoming.  Joining a startup or a small company can actually give a huge boost to your career as well as confidence. At a startup you would be responsible for things that in an big company you will have to wait for a long time.  The catch is, you need to carefully choose the company before you take the plunge…

What should you know about the startup before you decide to join it?

Can you ask these questions to the management during the interview? Of course you should, and if they are not comfortable answering these questions I would really think before joining this company.

  1. During the initial few years, you will be directly working with the founding members. It is better to check the profile of the founding team before the interview. If you are connected to someone who knows the founders on professional networking sites like Linkedin etc; get feedback from them about the founding team. Check the education, experience and people who teh founders are connected to. That should give you a fair idea about the team you will be closely working with.
  2. Startup is often about an idea or concept. It does not have to be a unique idea, however you should be excited about the industry or the market it it targets. If you hate finance or stock market there is no point joining a finance based startup. It takes a lot of hard work to make a startup successful, it is very important that you enjoy the work you are doing there.
  3. Research the industry a bit before you join the startup. Understand the risks, challenges and competition. Clarify during the interview process, how they are planning to compete in the market, mitigate the risks their industry typically face.
  4. If it is a funded startup it will be a good idea to know how long the fund is going to last and when they expect to breakeven or be profitable.
  5. In a startup you have to be flexible with your role. Typically a startup is fighting many fires at any given time and  you are expected to jump in and save the situation. It might still be a good idea to get a generic framework about your role and additional responsibilities that you might be expected to take over.
  6. If it is not a funded startup and is growing organically, do they have secure business for  at least one year and what is the deal pipeline looking like. Is it a running machinery or not..
  7. Is this a single client or single project dependent company? It is risky to join such companies and it will not be a bad question to ask.

It is always a risk to join a startup, but if you want to be part of a growth story like Google, Amazon or Facebook you have to take that risk. Believe me..  it is worth the risk.

P.S. – This is not a comprehensive list, please do add your suggestions..

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