And why so many people get it almost entirely backwards
I think your point about stage of the company and its changing needs is fascinating. As a consultant, we occasionally advice on the right hire for organisations in our niche (often big tech).
I'm curious about your take on the idea that many, if not most, people at startups tend to be mercenary in nature - jumping from one organisation to the next. In Europe, we often think of employees in the USA as contractors rather than employees. They can be terminated at will and they seem to change jobs every 2 to 3 years (some a lot sooner).
Do you see this reflected in the startups you're discussing here?
This is the exact right take on whether or not someone should be joining a startup and what they should pay attention to. I get this question all the time from people thinking about "trying out" working at a startup. It's simply not for everyone and that's fine. Moreover, it MIGHT be something that's fit for you, but not that specific company due to the stage they're at. That's a unique perspective that I hadn't quite considered.
Great analysis and synthesis, Dan! On the point about not taking the job if they give you a VP or Director title with a few years of experience, that may be true more today than 15 years ago (when there were very few people who had years of startup experience in a specific function), but it's the quality and not the quantity of your experience that matters. If you're coming out of 4 years of hypergrowth experience, that may translate to 12 years of "regular" experience in terms of what you've seen and packed in a small amount of time. And having worked in 6th gear intensively may be more valuable to a startup than a Director who is only used to operating in a comfortable 2nd gear and has spent years getting used to resources and predictability. Thoughts?
Love this article Dan. What's your take on also considering the investors in a particular startup? Startup success is metrics (retention is HUGE!) but there's also that "Fairy dust" that great funds add with certain PortCos- at the end of the day we all want great outcomes and it seems like the best funds tend to have the best outcomes as well.
Great article, Dan. Exactly what I was looking for at the moment. I'm contemplating starting my PM career after graduating this Spring, and so far, my only PM exposure has been through 2 FAANG internships. I'm curious to hear your perspective on whether diving into a startup for my initial PM role is a good move. Can one effectively learn the ropes in a hyper-growth environment, or would you recommend a more established setting for gaining foundational experience?