4 Things to Find Out Before You Take the Job
You’ve heard it before: Most startups don’t make it. Obviously, then, working for one isn’t for the risk-averse. But for those with a love of challenges and a lot of ambition, it can be an attractive proposition, as well as a smart career and life move—except when it’s not.
So how do you evaluate whether that cool company with the fascinating product is worth taking a chance on?
In a word, research. Of course, given that the company is young there may not be a lot of information about it out there. Still, you can dig for history on the company’s founders and investors, and during an interview, you can simply ask about its technology and operations. It’s all about forming a complete picture of the business’s team, product and outlook.
What, precisely, do you want to know? Before deciding whether or not to join a startup, be sure you can answer these questions.
The Main Players and Investors
- Who have they worked for?
- Who have they worked with?
- What’s their personal and professional reputation in their field of expertise?
- What’s the success rate of any previous ventures?
- Is there buzz about them in the media and/or online communities? What is it?
- Have key technologists, investors or administrators from previous ventures joined them or continued to work with them in one way or another?
- Does it appear to fill a genuine need or meet a significant want?
- Is there a real market for it?
- Does it seem innovative when compared to similar offerings that may already be in the marketplace?
Unless you’re interviewing to be part of a very early team, you should also take a hard look at the company’s technology and who’s already on board. Some of this information may be proprietary or difficult to suss out online, so once inside for a chat, ask about:
- OS, libraries and software: What’s in use and is it up to date?
- System infrastructure: How does it move, modify and scale?
- What’s the backup plan if everything blows up?
- Is there more than one person who understands the code/infrastructure?
- Does the team’s skill set match the infrastructure?
- Who’s responsible for what?
There’s no question that researching a startup is tougher than finding out about an established business. Given the added risk involved in working for one, the extra effort is worth your time. Don’t be afraid to ask about what you can’t find online or through your network. If the company’s leadership is hesitant to share basic information, it’s fair to ask yourself what they’re trying to hide.
- Plan Your Finances Before Joining a Startup
- How to Customize Your Resume for a Startup
- When’s the Right Time to Join a Startup?
Image: John Vasko/Flickr