What USA saw 20-25 years back, India is witnessing today. It’s the age of Startups in India. In the latest interview of Mr. N Chandrasekaran, MD and CEO of TCS, India’s largest software services company described to leading newspaper that, “youngster these days have an enormous appetite for risk taking. That is one major difference. In our generation, the emphasis was always to study and get a job, be an engineer, doctor or a chartered accountant, whatever, but get a job. That is not today. This appetite to experiment and to take risks… I hope it doesn’t stop.” Yes these are exciting times for India.
In another article in prominent business newspaper talked about how companies lined up at business to recruit are coming back empty handed, thanks to aggressive hiring strategies by new gen companies along with the prominent players. Clearly there is demand supply mismatch. The entrepreneurship cell of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad recently hosted placement event “Entre Fair”, facilitating interactions among start-ups and students and works as a platform that gives students an opportunity to work in a start-up and get exposure in emerging businesses. But what to do when you are on the other side of the table. Here are 5 important things to know before you take a plunge to join a startup –
- Know the Founders and/or Founding Team.
Any Startup is as good as its Founding Team. It’s very critical to know who the people behind the Show are. Organization Founders are the backbone of the Company and are salient to the passion of building something new and big. Research about their previous successes and failures; remember not to judge them on the failures alone. Be it people or businesses, both have their own set of decent successes and impressive failures. Study their profiles on LinkedIn, Google+ or twitter. Great if you can speak or meet in person with them and understand their goals for the company and future plans.
- Know who are the Investors backing the Team.
Today we come across thousands of stories of funding to the high potential startups. It’s also critical to understand who are those people are who are backing the team with the cash flow. Well know Venture capitalists like Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, Tiger Global, Soft Bank etc. are known to invest with all the due diligence and investment practices. Also understand in which stage the startup is. Is it in Product Developmental or Expansion Stage? Which part of series of funding it has obtained.
- Understand/Research the Market, Product and its potential success.
Not to sound that you be a prognosticator, but it’s always wise to do your bit of research on the market that company caters. Know who are the potential customers and scope for the growth of that market. Even more critical is to know the product that company offers, does it’s solve the pain points of the customers it intend to offer. In India, Flipkart became the poster boy of E-commerce, it not only unleashed need Indian consumers for convenient way of shopping but also came with novel preposition of how customers can buy, with Cash on Delivery.
- Know when to step in.
Joining a startup can be roller coaster ride, expecting its own share of highs and lows. It very critical to know when you want to plug in and start contributing in the company. I normally see three phases wherein you can join. Phase one could be, when it has just started and is building on its product. Team comprises of mainly founders and few supporting staff. It can be a good time if you want to contribute in product development and company is in the initial phase of determining the potential market. Here a caveat, it could be very risky also.
But if you belong to the school of thought who believes in high risk and high return theory, here is your chance to take a plunge. Phase two could be when company has penetrated into the market, has its few set of customers and has raised the initial round of funding. Here the risk involved is relatively less, as investors has done their due diligence and are backing the company to expand. Phase three is a time when company starts to expand its operations and would like to take it further with respect to location, headcounts and product diversification. I normally call this phase as matured startups.
- Know that you belong to that place.
Fitment is the key, both for the startup and for the potential employee. It very critical that both understand what value they can create for each other. Joining a startup can sometimes ask you to take a salary cuts, devoting long hours and even demand your weekends. Great Startups are known to have a passionate, high energy and hawk eye focused individuals. It’s a pot of high aspirations with common mission and purpose. Know people who work there and get insights about the company with the help of Glassdoor.
In conclusion, it’s important to understand that joining a well-established Corporate and early stage Startup is quite different with respect to the emotions, learnings and rewards. Very few people are able to gaze the ventures with high potential and create positive dent with disrupting the conventional way of doing business. MAY YOU BE THAT ONEJ Good Luck!