What’s my next move? Should I join a startup?

Yesterday, I had a 30-minute conversation with someone who is looking to make a transition in his career. His specialty skill is business intelligence and big data analysis and he was telling me all about how startups really need this; “They are gathering so much data and can’t use it to make strategic decisions.”

He wants to join a start-up and believes he can help guide the direction of the company and partake in the spoils of success. He asked for my insight and experience – here are some things to know: a startup typically begins with 3 people, and then expands to 5 before hiring beyond that.

The nucleus of the team initially consists of:

  • The CEO – the visionary who navigates the company to its ideal end point 3-5 years from now
  • The CTO – the engineer and technician who creates the best-in-class product that will disrupt its industry
  • The VP of sales and marketing – the creator of product/market fit and the go-to-market strategy; the producer of sales.


These are the founders – the ones who put it all on the line and who also get the founder stock.

Next, you’ll get the Accountant/VP Finance/CFO – the implementer of systems and processes, the genius at numbers and master at raising capital.

The 5th person to join the core team is the wise mentor who provides experience to the company.

Somewhere a long way down the road we find the data analytics person. He/she will be viewed more as an employee than someone who was part of the founding team – and the equity ownership will strongly reflect this. In the future, he/she will also most likely not be part of the executive team. The bottom line is that unless the company becomes highly successful, the payout for the data analytics person will be small.

What will make you successful in the future? What will make that data analytics person a person of influence – someone who will be viewed as vital to any organization rather than someone who has a functional role and is easily replaceable?

I think you must become someone with a personal brand, who attracts opportunities rather than works in a functional job.

My advice

  • Join a Venture Capital firm as an associate and learn about a lot of different industries and companies and establish a vital skill and entrepreneurial mindset. From this position of strength and strong brand name join an exciting, well-established startup with an excellent salary, bonus, equity compensation package.


  • Become an entrepreneur-in-residence at a venture capital firm and help all the companies in the VCs portfolio with the their data analytics – being somewhat a consultant to many industries and companies.


  • Start your own analytics consulting firm and jump straight to being the CEO.

It’s all about creating a personal brand, becoming a key person of interest, negotiating the correct compensation package of salary, bonus and equity and thinking long term.


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