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A career in Start-ups

startupWhenever there is a mention of a start-up in a conversation it attracts attention immediately. If you happen to meet fresh graduates from college, many of them are actually considering a start-up career. Right from the Prime Minister in the country to the senior school students are all talking about start-ups? It is the latest buzz word in every town and you cannot escape being touched in some form or the other. Most of us know about a number of start-ups that became successful like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Big Basket, and so on. There are plenty of them that are pretty active in the online space but are less popular. However, there is a much larger number that has still to make the grade.

startup-1The start-up equation: Given the glamour associated with the start-ups, many people are seeking a career on this path. If you ask someone what is his biggest apprehension when seeking a job in a start-up and the most likely reaction would be, “What if the start-up is not able to pull through?” You would be surprised that the equation changes when the people have worked for a year in the start-up. In a Times Job buzz survey, 88% of the respondents were ready to quit their jobs in the start-ups for jobs in larger well-established companies. Interestingly only 15% were worried about job security if the venture did not take off properly; 43% were ready to switch for higher salaries and 30% for a better work-life balance.

startup-2Get a few things in order: The crux of the whole thing is that you have to get certain things clear in your mind if you are looking for a career in a start-up.

  • You will be working with a few people in a start-up and the count may not exceed five. There may not be a recruiting budget and you may find yourself sandwiched between self-motivated entrepreneurs slogging it out.
  • You should be ready to wear multiple hats. Remember, around 30% people point to the pressure of taking up multiple roles as the second biggest apprehension in a start-up job.
  • Working for long hours to achieve a goal should be your forte. You must be eager to accept the challenges as they crop up in your path.
  • A start-up enthusiast is one who thrives in an innovative environment. He is not worried much and finds joy in not knowing what’s around the corner.

If you have all these characteristics, then you are fit for a start-up career. The things are not actually much different from a private job, and if luck is on your side, you may well be on your way to a successful start-up career.

startup-3Network: The best way to search for a start-up job is through networking. The start-ups do not have big-bang advertising budgets and do the recruitment mainly through their connections. It is less about resumes and applications and more about making it through the right connections.

startup-4Social media: Get on to the social networking platforms and you will find plenty of groups dedicated to start-ups. You may have to use your connections in a bid to get into these groups as they might be limited to a category of clients. The restrictions come from the college, city, and IT knowledge etc. Once into the groups, you will find a lot of support in the form of mentors, opportunities and venture capitalists.

startup-5Events: Start-up meets and events keep on happening in the major cities. Keep a track of the same in the newspapers and on the internet. If you visit the same you would easily be able to get into the start-up bandwagon.

startup-6Direct contact: You can also target the start-ups directly by doing some search on the internet and in the local newspapers/magazines. There are bound to be some of them located in your area or nearby city. Certain cities like Bangalore in India are known as the start-up hubs as plenty of them are thriving there. When you talk to the people, tell them why you are passionate about working in their start-up. The entrepreneurs, leading a start-up like people who gel with their mission and may keep you on the radar for a likely opening.

startup-7Bang-on: If you have the will, reaching your goal for a career in a start-up is achievable. You just need the right characteristics to be in that coveted job.


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The author is a veteran of the Indian automobile industry having spent more than 30 years there. The articles are based on the experience and learnings gathered during the course of his career. The writing is also interspersed with the advances and change ideas influencing the careers of the people.


  1. Good insights to the start-ups and the working environment there.

  2. Bangalore is surely becoming the start-up hub and it has got international acclaim also.

  3. Working for long hours can be managed in today’s environment, but wearing multiple hats may not be possible at a young age. Who wants to take so much responsibility for a start-up which may or may not be successful. Start-ups are a strict no for me.

  4. I never knew that the perception about working with a start-up changes within a year. Good facts and figures. I am thinking of continuing with my job with my company rather than going to a start-up.

  5. I agree with the observation that one should look carefully at the start-ups and not get carried away by the glamor screen.

  6. Thanks for the good advice.It is helpful for me.

  7. I have worked with a start-up that just had 4 people. I persuaded them a lot to use the direct contacts and event participation, but they restricted themselves to social media marketing only. The result was evident. They were unable to survive. Luckily I found a job for myself.

  8. It is not possible for me to work for those extra hours as I have got a family life of my own. I cannot also work in an environment where there are only four to five people. After reading this article I have decided against a career in start-ups.

  9. A career in Start-ups looks very glamorous on the outside but this article is an eye opener.

  10. If you prefer that readily available vault of knowledge and experience—and need it to advance to the position you want in the timeframe you expect—you might find a corporate position more helpful. It all depends on how you work and learn best.

  11. Boost your skills, get ahead at work, and be the best professional you can possibly be

  12. One of the findings in First Round’s recent State of Startups report was that hiring the right people tops the list of founder concerns.

  13. So much powerful article.I’m very glad to see that.

  14. Before reading this article I was of the view that start-ups must be paying very well. Surprised to see that 43% people want to leave start-ups for higher salaries. My myth has been busted.

  15. I am running my second year in a start-up that has grown. I like the challenges and I also have the option of working from home. I am liking my work with no intentions of moving out of it.

  16. The features of start-up information are very powerful.I appreciate that article.

  17. I am working in a neighbourhood start-up for the past one year and finding the job interesting.

  18. The figures are quite amusing. I did not anticipate that a majority of the people working in a start up intend to shift jobs to better established companies within a year.

  19. I have been reading about start-ups everyday in the newspapers and magazines. The internet is full of such examples. After going through this article I realize that very few of them actually enter the successful bandwagon. It is also quite possible that you may continue to run without seeing the light of the day for many years. The people turning averse to the start-up careers is becoming clear now. Thanks for the enlightening article.

  20. I have mostly met people who are puzzled after having started a career working in start-ups. The same has also been rightly brought out in this article. The mindset has to change for the individuals who want to work in the start-ups. The environment is very different from the other industry.

  21. I think that start-up career should be just considered like any other career option. You can evaluate the pros and cons just the way you do it for any other career choice. What is so great about start-ups?

  22. The author is absolutely right on the fact that we cannot escape being touched by the start-up craze in some form or the other. It was no surprise when I saw one of the latest issues of Forbes magazine being dedicated to the start-ups. With so much buzz around it , the start-ups have greatly influenced the career world. I hope they do not end up like the dot com bubble.

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