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Vetting a Startup

VETTING A startup

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Everyone wants to work at a startup

We all wish we’d worked for Facebook or Google or Intuit or HP before they went public. We’d all be retired by now or funding our own new ventures. But as some smart jerk says, hindsight is 20/20. How can we identify a startup that is taking off before it becomes saturated with interested candidates and investors?

I ask three big questions of any potential client before deciding to bring them on and inform my network about them.

1. PRODUCT

What are you selling?  How do you differ from your competitors?  Do you face the market differently?  Did you develop a proprietary technology that will sink everyone else?  Are you faster?  Smarter?  Easier or more efficient?  Beware of buzz words.  Let’s see some data to really distinguish you from your competition.

2. PEDIGREE

Who are your leaders?  Did they come from tried and true companies?  Have they successfully lead companies to IPO or acquisition in the past?  Will they act as mentors to new hires?  Which Venture Capital or Private Equity firms have invested?  Which round of fundraising are you on?

3. CULTURE

Do I want to spend my entire day at your office?  What’s the culture?  Have you invested in benefit packages, retirement investment strategies, gym memberships, internal communications models?  Are your employees friends?  Do you offer growth opportunities, assigned mentors, clear goals, and consistent support?  Significant equity, green territories, creative freedom, collaborative work sessions?

Rarely does a startup offer all of these things, and more often than not many components are missing (or have yet to be built out) but these are all important factors to consider.  As a job seeker, you would be remiss not to fully understand what you’re walking into.  Because startups hire quickly, you may want to engage before you write off a company, and a lot of these factors can be determined via your interview process. Talk to your Betts recruiter about these questions and ensure they align with your values and expectations.

If you’re about to head to an interview, check out our Business Casual – Startup Edition post for some helpful hints.