How Do I Choose which Startup To Apply To?

The surge of small enterprises around the world has had a significant impact on the global revenue and economic upturn that we have recently experienced.

These small enterprises have been founded to ideate and create new products, introduce them into the market and source clients for potential investments into the product and the startup in general. Startups continue to disrupt the traditional business models that we are all accustomed to, further establishing new business models that are changing the face of businesses and products in the respective industries.

If you are interested in joining a startup, you may be discouraged by the number of startups that have been established around the world. Therefore, it might be daunting to decide on the right startup that will align with not only your million-dollar goals but also with your personal career goals, growth, and all-around development. Therefore, this article will highlight the variables that should be considered when determining what sort of startup you should apply to.

How comfortable am I with risks?

When you begin to think of the kind of startup that you want to work in, you need to ask yourself the level of your tolerance when it comes to taking risks.

First of all, you should note that the riskiest startup you can join is the one you start by yourself. As a founder of any startup, your first source of funds is your money. This implies that you may not receive any remuneration for months, and even years. Founding a company also means that you take on the largest responsibility concerning the well-being of your employees, as well as the returns to the investors. It also involves handling the majority of the workload for your startup. Therefore, if your personality involves a low-risk tolerance, you should not tow the path of creating a startup on your own.

Although, the perks of starting your startup should not be overlooked. It is an opportunity to create a billion-dollar company while allowing you to grow personally and in your career.

The second riskiest choice is joining a startup at the early stage. Early-stage startups are not usually known to have market-fit products, and may not even pay their employees high salaries. Although, despite the uncertainty in the future of most early-stage startups, it is a great place to learn, network, and even garner generous equity packages that can later lead to massive windfalls.

The best option for those that have low-risk tolerance is to join startups that have reached the Series A or B funding round. These companies have their product-market fit and have also reached the growth stage of their life cycle. Even though slight uncertainties may remain about the future of such companies, there is a good chance that such a startup already has a roadmap for its evolution and growth, which will help you to evaluate whether the growth of the startup aligns with your career goals.

In essence, assessing the level of risk that startups currently face may be an intimidating process, and usually involves your skills and understanding of the company's product and product market fit.



What is my career priority?

Priorities differ, and this factor usually plays a significant factor in determining the kind of startup you apply to. These factors or priorities may be; growth, ambitions, finance, etc. 

When it comes to growth, you are looking for an environment that allows you to innovate and learn on the job. At this point, you are concerned about your knowledge and have little financial constraints. If this is the case, early-stage startups are apt for these kinds of situations. This is because these kinds of startups are more than willing to take on new employees, granting them the space to carry out as many responsibilities as they can. These startups are also aware of the fact that they cannot hire top executives, so they scout for raw talents. 

Early-stage startups allow you to take on bigger workloads, coupled with the prospects of a high financial return if you can accumulate equity in such a startup and the company goes on to be sold or go public through an initial public offering (IPO). 

Do I want financial stability?

If you have advanced in your career, you may have realized that you have time constraints, and therefore, you crave something that is more financially rewarding; something that offers more stability in your finances. For this, you should choose a startup that is at the series B funding round and beyond as they have a better runway — or more money to spend. 

These types of companies have processes that ensure you maintain a work schedule that is consistent week in, and week out. As against early-stage companies that grant more equity to their employees, these types of companies offer generous packages of compensation in addition to the equity. Although this depends on the amount of capital investment injected into the company. Thus, a series A startup may, in effect, be paying as generously as a series B or Series C startup. To get these well-paid jobs, you must leverage your skills and prove to the hiring managers that your talents are indispensable. You need to display why a Series B company will want to hire a series C manager, for instance.

What scale of financial reward do I want?

When it comes to the prospects of making large gains from startups, it is important to note that, the smaller the startup, the higher the potential financial gain within the firm. 

Getting financial gain is different from getting financial stability. When the former is your priority or reason for joining a startup, you may want to start your own company, or better, join a company at its seed stage. Of course, these options satisfy the appetite of only those that have high-risk tolerance, as these kinds of startups possess the greatest potential for reward as well.

After such a startup has reached series B or C, it is standard procedure for founders to increase salaries significantly, in addition to high equity stakes. Therefore, these types of startups are apt for those seeking financial gain. To even achieve the best of both —that is, high equity stakes and high salaries— you may want to consider joining a series B company.

What are my deal breakers when it comes to startups?

Finally, you must know where your boundaries are drawn. Your deal breakers will be personal to you and should be free from the opinions of others. 

For instance, one of the many deal breakers is that some startups are looking for those willing to work without pay. Many people have been known to have continued working with the company, erroneously believing that a large IPO is in the works. For others, sacrificing your paycheck may not be the most favorable for you. 

For others, it may be the work environment, or even the perks attached to the work, like parental leave, remote work, etc. In essence, these deal breakers differ from person to person. 


In conclusion, there is no right and wrong answer to the choice of a startup to work with. Above all, you should thoroughly evaluate your options before submitting that resume or CV.

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