Anyone can join a Startup – Here’s how!
If you have found the job search to be getting the better of you, consider joining an early stage startup.
Here I will explain how you can join a startup of your choosing – Not just any startup, but one that YOU identify because YOU think they may be on to something.
Now why would you join a startup knowing that 90% of them fail? Well for a start there is no better training ground for a diversity of skills.
You will be thrust into a tiny team in which YOU HAVE A VOICE.
Yes, you may be designated a title, but everyone on the team is driven by a singular goal – Product Market Fit. As such, you will be involved in product conception, development, testing, validation, creation of a brand identity, developing a marketing strategy, developing a pitch, content curation, content creation, seeking partnerships, pitching investors. If you are not involved in any of these, then you are doing it wrong and you will not last long.
MAKE YOURSELF INVOLVED.
A startup structure is often meritocratic. The founders want your input. They want passion. They want to share in the success.
If your startup is one of the 10% that succeeds, great! But even if it doesn’t, the lessons learnt will be invaluable - you won’t go away empty handed since startup experience is becoming a more and more sought after credential.
This is your opportunity to join a startup and be part of something special. It will be hard work, it will not pay much, but hey, no pain, no gain.
So here is how you join a startup –
Identify your target
You have by now all heard of the term Crowdfunding. Basically it is an alternative form of fundraising that start-ups, or any individual with an idea to bring something new to market, can turn to in order to raise seed money to start a project. It is a concept that has only really taken off in the last decade with websites like GoFundMe, INDIEGOGO and KickStarter offering a platform for wannabe entrepreneurs to pitch their idea to the public.
Dig deeper and you’ll find such platforms provide a wealth of opportunities for a job seeker. These platforms are your database for finding your target startup. Another great source is ProductHunt - Not a crowdfunding platform but the mostly widely used platform for launching new and very cool products.
Every budding entrepreneur that initiates a project on an INDIEGOGO or KickStarter platform will be a mixed bag of emotions ranging from confident, to extremely anxious about whether their idea will be warmly received. In a way, it is not only a method of raising seed money, but also of seeking validation directly from the marketplace.
During the tense period between launching a project on a crowdfunding platform and the deadline for reaching the funding goal, there is nothing more welcoming to the anxious entrepreneur than an email from a complete stranger saying they saw the project and think it is a brilliant idea. Their insecurity is your opportunity.
Take your time to look through some of the projects. Most crowdfunding sites categorize projects nicely so you can easily find one that you might be passionate about. It could be design app, fashion, technology, music or an alarm clock that bangs you on the head.
Look for projects that blow your mind. If it blows your mind, chances are it is blowing other peoples minds and these are the projects that are likely to succeed.
If you do come across a project that, if you had the money, you would love to make a “pledge”, then there may be an opportunity for you. Research the project thoroughly, and jot down what you think will be the major challenges to bringing the project to market, the unique differentiating factors, and the potential for business development.
It is very easy to reach out directly to the entrepreneur behind the project – Their contact details can easily be found either through the crowdfunding site, their website, or via social media channels such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Many of these projects are start-ups being hatched, so, provided they successfully achieve funding, they will have hiring requirements. Early stage startups will in most cases not have an HR department so it is the founders you need to reach. Their source for talent is usually from within their own network. They are often bootstrapping on money from family and friends and cannot afford to source top talent using expensive agencies.
This is when you send a co-founder an email.
“Dear Mr. Hyungsoo,
When I learnt about your project to build a tactile timepiece through Kickstarter, I immediately pledged to receive the All-Titanium Edition, which I was delighted to have delivered through the post just last week. I bought it, not for myself, but for my visually impaired roommate who works as a massage therapist. Needless to say he was thrilled with his new Bradley watch and uses it to time his sessions.
Forgive me for being assumptive, but I recently graduated from University of New South Wales with a major in Advertising and Marketing. I am currently based in Queensland Australia, and am seeking opportunities with a company like Eone Timepieces. I would be more than willing to make the move to the U.S. to be part of your team, or could develop a marketing strategy for the APAC region.
Please let me know if any opportunity exists, or point me to the right person to whom I can send my resume and certification.
I wish you and your team all the success in a project that clearly changes lives for the better.
It is important to keep the email short, clear, and authentic. Every entrepreneur starting out loves to hear words of encouragement and shared passion. Your first sentence is the bait. It is welcomed reassurance. They will read the email to the end now, guaranteed. Your email made them happy - they will respond.
The founders may not have a position open but in all likelihood, if you demonstrate your passion and convey intelligence, they will make a position for you. They thrive on new ideas being brought to the table. Demonstrate your brilliance. If you feel it would be better to develop a rapport with the founders before asking for a job, by all means do it that way. Feel the situation and act accordingly.
Like I said, it may not pay much, but that will change once you reach product market fit. And best of all, working for a startup you love is fun.
If any of you want help in drafting a letter to a founder or strategising your approach, do feel free to ask me. I would be more than happy to help.
Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.
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