Three Ways To Ensure Your Career Success At A StartUp - Forbes

Three Ways To Ensure Your Career Success At A StartUp - Forbes

Three Ways To Ensure Your Career Success At A StartUp - Forbes

Posted: 31 Jan 2020 08:54 PM PST

Guest Post By Eric Guidice

Startups can launch careers forward, providing experience, exposure, and scale that traditional companies cannot. I've spent the last 10 years in talent at unicorn disruptors Bird, Uber, and TravelClick, watching the best in the world harness this opportunity for career success.

It's important to set the context as to the offerings of startups when compared to larger, more established companies. Understanding these trade-offs is the first step in being able to navigate startup career progression. 

Startups have less time and resources for talent development. They focus first on building products and proving their fit in the market.  This becomes even truer the earlier it is in the startup lifecycle.

Startups give you exposure. Exposure to great leaders, the fundraising process, board prep, growth planning, etc. Roles are not rigidly defined or scoped to one function. This is also more relevant the earlier it is in the company's  lifecycle.

Startups favor disruption. Process isn't set in stone. Startup companies are meritocratic and open to change. Great startups exist to solve problems not yet solved by traditional business.

These are important considerations. Those who remain stagnant inside growing start-ups seldom consider these differences when deciding if they are the right fit. This has nothing to do with their intelligence or capability. They have aligned themselves with traditional company development, where the company has already figured out career progression (by position, promotion cycles, compensation bands, org structure, etc.) and can operate comfortably within those structures.

Here are three behaviors that accelerated my success.

Fast progression comes to those who have a plan.

1) Set goals for your career progression

Startups are a tremendous amount of work, with constant change and little structure. The opportunity for you to ask for, or be asked to complete, work outside of your scope is common. Fast progression comes to those who have a plan. Seek the projects that help you get to your desired outcome whether that includes management, learning a new skill, or taking on more scope. Talk to your manager/leader about what you want to achieve so they can help get you to the role you envision.

Perhaps the most difficult skill is learning when and how to say no if an opportunity does not help you meet your goals. Leaders gravitating to you for quality work and managing  requests outside your path is common. If the decision to decline work outside of your scope is more detrimental than taking it on, set clear expectations. Use measurable deliverables, and predetermined transition dates, to help limit discourse. Being transparent from the beginning, preserves relationships, and keeps your career progression on track.

Great people get great jobs, and great jobs favor referrals.

 2) Seek out the best, and incorporate their style into your own

This has been the driving force behind my success within startups, particularly in those who've achieved unicorn status. The potential to interact with the people who are accomplished, visionary thinkers is much higher than at traditional companies. I watched how they solved problems, communicated, and led teams, and I incorporated their style and technique into my own.

Get creative with how you gain their attention and respect. Beat them in the office, learn about their area, and be able to speak to it when the moment arrives. Care about their success, find ways to help them achieve it, and in turn, they will take notice.  An endorsement from someone who is recognized as the best goes a long way. These relationships will also help in the long term as you grow your career. Great people get great jobs, and great jobs favor referrals.

Prepare pitches with different lengths, or topics, based on who you are talking to.

3) Learn to pitch

Those who move up the fastest all share this ability. People who choose startups do so because they want to have a real impact in solving a new problem. They are excited at the possibility their work can make a drastic difference in something they care about. New opportunities arise constantly and when new problems, projects, or departments come available they go for it. They present solutions from their unique perspective with a presentation that is metrics-based and segmented by audience. They gain the respect and buy-in of key stakeholders. They have proven why they are ready for this move and present logical reasons as to why they are the best person for the job.

An easy way to practice your pitch is to start with yourself. Learn how to summarize your experience with the most impactful accomplishments. Prepare pitches with different lengths, or topics, based on who you are talking to. This will be tremendously valuable during networking and interviewing. After completing thousands of interviews, I've found that those who can pitch themselves well, do well in the interview process, and move up quickly once hired. They are purposeful with information and can tailor their delivery to each audience.

There are, of course, many other things that contribute to your progression inside startups. Some are inside of our control, like working hard, desire to learn new things, or how we receive feedback. Some are outside of our control, like product-market fit, the financial climate, competition and, sometimes, a little bit of luck. But, if you know where you want to go, a startup is a very fast, very exciting vehicle to help get you there — if you know how to handle it.

Eric Guidice is a growth advisor and entrepreneur. He recruited for Uber and Bird Rides and is now the cofounder of Unicorn Talent, which implements internal talent acquisition, compensation, and diversity & inclusion programs inside start-ups poised for rapid growth.

Before you launch, know the back-office realities of startup life - Chattanooga Times Free Press

Posted: 31 Jan 2020 04:05 PM PST

Starting a business takes more than just a cool idea and some fundraising. Behind the scenes, the details run the gamut from establishing company structure to protecting intellectual property. Attorney Willa Kalaidjian, the chair of the Chambliss Startup Group, shares her insights on what it really takes to stand up a startup.

Deciding on structure

There are several entity types, but startups and small businesses typically organize as limited liability companies (LLCs) or corporations. Choosing which entity is best may depend on the industry, number of owners, and other legal and tax preferences. Both LLCs and corporations provide similar protection from personal liability for business debts.

LLCs are often favored by small businesses and generally offer more flexibility than corporations, which are subject to strict statutory requirements. While LLCs are also governed by state law, many of those laws can be modified in the operating agreement.

Equally important to choosing the right entity structure for your business is ensuring all owners understand their roles. Ownership interest, rights and obligations should be clearly outlined in organizational documents to reduce uncertainty if relationships do not work out or if an owner needs to leave the company for unforeseen circumstances.

Protecting intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) is often the most valuable asset of a startup, and it is critical to take steps early on to secure and protect inventions, know-how and other proprietary IP. Failing to protect IP appropriately—through patent, trademark, copyright or trade secret—can have serious consequences and result in loss of protection. It is critical to secure rights to use essential intellectual property through IP assignments, employment agreements and license agreements. Finally, all startups should take steps to protect their confidential and proprietary information through non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements with employees, service providers, vendors and other parties who have access to proprietary processes, financial information, client lists and supplier information of the business.

Building company culture and smart partner relationships

Implementing a great idea requires support from a strong team. Your company culture will be a driving force in retaining and attracting employees. Engaging employees at every level and valuing their contributions will pay dividends down the road. Building and nurturing company culture is a process and takes time, effort and insight; but starting with a strong mission and identifying core values and a vision is an important first step.

At some point, it may be appropriate to bring on a corporate partner or strategic investor with access to resources and networks. Such relationships can provide much needed support and spur rapid growth. Smart partnerships involve a balancing of roles. It is important to identify business milestones and deliverables to ensure the partnership will align with the company's goals. Finally, make sure you spend the time to document partner relationships through a written agreement to ensure both parties have a clear understanding of expectations and responsibilities.

Managing regulatory risk

All businesses are subject to regulations, although certain industries may inherently be subject to more regulatory risks and requirements than others. Health care companies with access to personal health information must follow strict privacy regulations and ensure such information is protected from improper disclosure. Makers of new drugs or medical devices go through approval processes with the FDA before their products can be marketed and sold. Devices that emit radio frequencies are subject to certification processes with the FCC. Manufacturers may be subject to regulations with respect to air emissions or waste generated. Companies that own or develop real estate may need to address environmental issues and negotiate liability protection with state agencies or the EPA. Your company may be subject to state and federal employment laws, including worker health and safety laws. All companies must comply with state and federal taxation laws and regulations. Through proper due diligence and seeking specialized legal advice where appropriate, a startup can largely predict, identify and navigate regulatory risks successfully.

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Contributed photo / Attorney Willa Kalaidjian focuses her practice on startups and emerging companies, general commercial and business transactions, environmental compliance, and telecommunications and energy law.

Willa Kalaidjian focuses her practice on startups and emerging companies, general commercial and business transactions, environmental compliance, and telecommunications and energy law. She works with startups and entrepreneurs on entity choice, governance and business planning, trademarks, technology rights, and financial transactions. Kalaidjian holds a bachelor's degree from Columbia University, a master's degree from Pace University and a law degree from Emory University.

Airbnb quietly acquired property management startup Proprly in 2016 - Business Insider

Posted: 31 Jan 2020 09:20 AM PST

  • Airbnb quietly bought Proprly, a property management service for short-term rentals, in a previously unreported May 2016 deal, an Airbnb spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.
  • The purchase suggests that Airbnb's appetite for expanding beyond bookings to become a one-stop shop for travel predated its 2018 acquisition of property management software Luckey.

In a previously unreported deal in May 2016, Airbnb bought Proprly, a property management service that managed cleaning, guest check-in, and other aspects of the rental process on behalf of hosts, an Airbnb spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.

The popularity of platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway's VRBO has given rise to a related industry of startups, like Proprly, that cater to the newfound needs of property owners. Countless companies have popped up to offer everything from cleaning services to home security to insurance, custom-tailored for short-term rental operators.

Airbnb has mostly stayed out of offering those services itself, preferring instead to partner with other providers. But its acquisition of Luckey, a property management software company, caused some observers to speculate whether it might be adjusting its strategy.

While Airbnb eventually shut down Proprly, the purchase suggests it may have been experimenting with building out more in-house services as far back as 2016.

Airbnb did not disclose how much it paid for the company or what the terms were, though Proprly's founder, Randy Engler, joined Airbnb shortly after the deal and currently works on its Olympics partnership team, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Proprly is among several acquisitions made by Airbnb that the company has been relatively quiet about, in contrast to its purchases of companies like HotelTonight and Luxury Retreats. With Airbnb preparing to go public in 2020, investors will be paying close attention to how each of its more than 20 past purchases have paid off.

How Startup Challenges are Helping Fintech and Agri Sectors - Entrepreneur

Posted: 30 Jan 2020 10:38 PM PST

Before the industry became as big as it is now, fintech and agri startups' main arena to attract investments were startup competitions

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Those familiar to the ins and outs of startup communities in Asia would know: there's at least one startup challenge happening in the region every quarter, as governments and organizations seek new innovative ventures that tackle some of the world's most pressing problems.

Perhaps one industry that has benefitted the most from this phenomenon in recent years is the fintech scene. With half of the region, or at least 1 billion people still unbanked, truly, there's a vast opportunity for fintech players to close the gap between the financially marginalized, and affordable financial products.

In 2018, global investments in fintech ventures more than doubled from previous year levels to US$55.3 billion, with the majority of that amount going to Asia Pacific-based fintech firms, according to the data provided by CB Insights.

Before the industry became as big as it is now though, fintech startups' main arena to attract investments were startup competitions. In 2010, the entire industry worldwide only managed to get US$1.8 billion worth of investments, and those in the Asia Pacific hardly got a dime of that.

Philippine-based startups would know this well. With access to capital as their primary problem based on a Pricewaterhouse Coopers study, some founders have turned to pitch competitions worldwide for cash.

For example, fintech startup Ayannah, which offers affordable online remittance services to Filipino overseas workers, joined a number of startup competitions just when it was raising seed funding. In 2011, Ayannah won the now-defunct ON3 Pitching Competition, which gave its founding team a chance to pitch to Silicon Valley-based investors. Two years later, it closed a $1-million funding from Singapore-based fintech VC Life.SREDA, Silicon Valley VC 500 Startups and London-based fintech VC Blue Compass among others. It has continued to join a number of pitching competitions even after reaching maturity.

This series of fundings has allowed the fintech startup to grow into one of the largest agent network fintech firms in the Philippines. Latest reports show Ayannah now processes around 50,000 transactions per day.

Another Filipino fintech firm that has taken a similar route is Acudeen, which purchases invoices of micro and small enterprises at a discount, to give them access to their capital at a faster and more convenient timeline. In April 2017, the startup won the Seedstars World Competition where it brought home $500,000 worth of equity prize.

Months later, the company closed a $6-million financing deal with a unit of Philippine-listed Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), which allows the company to grow its capital access for invoice purchases.

This pattern  has continued even in the agritech sector.  In an agricultural country ridden with challenges, startups have risen to the occasion to bring innovative solutions to the table. And much like their fintech predecessors, some have turned to startup competitions for financial and institutional support.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this phenomena is Cropital, an investment-matching platform that serves as a bridge between small financiers and farmers. Since its inception in 2015, it has consistently joined pitching competitions, almost on an annual basis, most recently winning a trip to the Seedstars Regional Summit where they can have a chance to bag the $500,000 equity investment prize.

Its string of pitching competition wins has allowed it to remain running in the last four years as it remains to bootstrap for funding. So far, it has helped 700 farmers in seven provinces in the Philippines, with 3,000 active accounts on its investment platform.

Another startup that is taking a similar path is Talino Lab Ventures' ASENSO, which aims to be an end-to-end microbusiness enabler, as it seeks to provide the key pillars needed by farmers to be successful in their ventures: capital, insurance and a ready marketplace for their goods.

While the ASENSO already has institutional support from the Philippines' largest microfinance institution, CARD MRI, it didn't stop the startup from the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Global AgriFin Innovation Challenge in November, where it won $10,000 but more important, the opportunity to do a pilot backed by ADB in an ADB project in the region.

It shows that aside from access to capital, startup challenges allow startups to garner the traction it needs to achieve access in the investing circle, and encouragement that their business ideas are not just good on paper. Moreover, these challenges allow founders to reassess their business models as they defend their startups in front of a jury who may not be their investors for now, but could be their backers in the future. 

It's a healthy environment for startups who wish to test the waters for their ideas. And with the success for these startups come the success as well of the very markets they cater to— the unbanked, the small entrepreneur, markets once ignored by the big establishments.


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