Author Archive for Vivek Sivaram

An Attempt to work at a startup

Hi everyone. This is my first post. A quick introduction about myself. I am Vivek and currently located in Chennai. Aspiring to be an entrepreneur in the days/months/Years to come :) This article is an attempt to understand the process of hiring at a startup. Your comments would help me understand what went on.

To understand the situation, you need to know that I have been trying to work for a startup because I thought it would give me the flexibility to learn how to run one down the line. Having said this, I always knew the kind of challenges and sacrifices that I would have to make if at all I joined a startup. But I am also of the opinion that the passion to work in a startup varies with your association with the group. For instance, if you are the founder, you would be practically working 24×7 and also in your sleep you would probably be working out strategies. The level of commitment would slightly reduce say for a co-founder who came on board a little later and keep going down with a new hire. This is true even more for a company which is performing regular hires (post funding).

Now, having said this (and I am sure many of you would agree/disagree), I was called by one of the founders of a company to work with them. We had various rounds of interviews, tests and lengthy discussions. Coming from a product management/marketing background, I was offered a marketing role in the organization. The company itself was funded by an entity and were in a position to offer stable income to the new recruits.

At the end of these interviews, I was selected and offered the job. However the pay was significantly lower than what I was drawing at my current job. The reasons stated included that I come from a different background and the nature of the job would be entirely different from what I have been doing all these years, that a disparity might be created if they even matched my current pay; let alone exceed it.

My expectations were not high at all. To begin with since I knew the pulse of startups, I was ready to accept an offer which would be below my current CTC and also fore-go other benefits which are offered in a corporate world. I was also prepared to work long hours (startups don’t have any working hours, isn’t it?) including weekends if the situation demanded. But the company simply couldn’t meet my threshold of acceptance and the offer was cancelled as a result.

My questions to fellow entrepreneurs here are:

  • How do you balance the pay packet for a potential employee? Please give two scenarios – (a) You are self funded. (b) You are financially backed by an angel or a VC.
  • Would you consider the prior experience of a candidate from a different domain, or would you simply consider him/her to be a fresher from your company’s perspective?
  • What kind of commitment would you expect from the new hire? What kind of notice periods/bonds would you look at?
  • What are the legal aspects which you would look into before hiring someone? Would you do extensive background check on the candidate or rely on references or just hire him/her for what value they can bring in?
  • Would you have an age criteria to hire? In other words would you believe that a 21 year old could be as valuable as a 40 year old?

Your comments would help me ascertain where I should have my expectations as a potential hire/employer.