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加盟明星初创企业4步走

Jeff Bussgang 2013年04月09日

怎样锁定有望一飞冲天的创业公司,实现职业生涯的跨越式发展?过来人总结了一套行之有效的行动方案:树立高目标,寻求与业内重要人物谋面洽谈,选择一家有望胜出的企业。

    我是1995年进入创业圈的,当时我还是一名刚从哈佛大学(Harvard)毕业的MBA学生。那时,我的同学们都在争相追逐高薪高压的华尔街工作,我却加入了一家只有30名雇员的首轮融资初创企业担任产品经理,年薪只有65,000美元,比我上MBA前在管理咨询公司波士顿咨询集团(Boston Consulting Group)的薪酬还要低。此后,我的职业发展一飞冲天,但我经常回想起当初这一似乎是命中注定的决定。很多刚刚毕业的MBA学生经常问我:“怎样在创业企业中找到一份工作?”或者,更常见的是:“我应该从哪里入手来寻找和评估创业企业的工作机会——我完全摸不着头脑?”

    创业企业林林总总,在门外汉看起来可能高深莫测。删繁就简,我建议简单采取四个步骤:以下是我的建议:

    • 选择一个领域。首先,找到你富有激情的领域。你属于企业对消费者(B2C)类型,还是企业对企业(B2B)类型?你都看些什么博客?你关注Techcrunch或《华尔街日报》(Wall Street Journal)上的什么文章?你梦想服务的公司是什么样的?回答这些问题将有助于缩小自己感兴趣的领域。结果可能不止一个,但应该不超过,比方说,三个。

    • 选择一个城市。下一步,搞清楚自己想在哪里生活。同样,这可能也会有很多选择,但最好是一、两个最喜欢的城市。每个初创企业社区都有自己的优缺点、弊病和特质。我发现,一旦年轻人选择了某个创业社区,他们就会一直留在那儿。这是一个自然而然的现象——他们日积月累建立起的关系网会带来一个又一个的机会。你在一家创业企业的同事会成为你在另一家企业的共同创始人。因此,鉴于这种“逐步积累”的现象,年轻的专业人士应当在职业生涯的早期就选好一个落脚的城市。

    • 选择一个阶段。下一步,决定你喜欢在处于什么阶段的企业工作。丛林阶段(仍在披荆斩棘,努力寻找通往成功的路)、土路阶段(确立了最初的产品市场适应,试图朝着一个相对明确的方向执行和扩张),还是高速路阶段(沿着屡经验证的道路不断优化和扩张)?这个决定应当根据风险喜好、个人气质和倾向来确定。如果你愿意承担风险,享受挑战和坐过山车一样的感受,那么你适合丛林阶段,可以优选那些处于种子阶段融资的企业或最近刚刚获得首轮投资但尚未实现收入的企业。如果你相对保守一些,希望获得良好的薪酬,选择一个“安全的”赢家,那么处于IPO前或刚刚IPO的高速路企业是合适的选择。

    • 选择有望胜出者。确定目标领域、地域和企业所属阶段之后,可以重点选择几家有望胜出的企业,也就是那些人人都认为拥有大好势头和潜力的热门公司。毕竟,在某个特定领域,为什么要给那些绝对是大热门之外的公司工作呢?门外汉怎么才能搞清楚在某一特定的领域、市场和公司发展阶段,谁有望胜出呢?咨询一下业内人士。在你的目标地域市场中,找到最大的3家风投、天使投资者、科技律师和猎头,问问他们有哪两家或三家热门公司符合你感兴趣的领域和阶段。编辑公司名单,进行压力测试,看看结果如何。被提到次数最多的公司将来自然而然会成为行业领头羊,种种证据也令人信服。

    下面是我依据一位提问者的要求编辑的样本图,此君对旧金山/硅谷、纽约市或波士顿的电子商业、移动或“软件即服务”(SaaS)公司感兴趣。列表中的第一家公司处于较早阶段(丛林阶段或土路阶段),第二家处于较晚阶段(土路阶段或高速路阶段)。这份列表只是为了说明问题,并没有搜罗详尽。

    My first time jumping into the startup world was as a freshly minted Harvard MBA in 1995. As my classmates were rushing off to high-paying, high-powered jobs on Wall Street, I joined a Series A startup with 30 employees as a product manager, making $65,000 per year - lower than my pre-MBA salary at management consultancy The Boston Consulting Group. Since then I've had a terrific ride, but I often think of that fateful decision when I get asked, repeatedly, by other freshly minted MBAs: "How do I get a job in a startup?" Or, more generally, "How do I even begin to find and assess startup job opportunities - I don't even know where to start?"

    The startup universe is a large one and can seem overwhelming and impenetrable to the uninitiated. In order to narrow things down, I recommend following a simple, four-step heuristic. Here's the advice I give:

    • Pick a Domain. First, figure out your passion in terms of domain. Are you more of a B2C type or a B2B type? What blogs are you reading? What articles in Techcrunch or the Wall Street Journal capture your attention? What companies are your dream companies to work for? Answering these questions will help narrow down a set of domains that you are excited about. It can be more than one, but it shouldn't be more than, say, three.

    • Pick a City. Next, figure out where you want to live. Again, there may be multiple options, but ideally one or two favorites. Each startup community has its own plusses and minuses, quirks and idiosyncracies. I find that once young people choose a particular startup community, they stay there. It's a natural phenomenon - they build relationships over time that lead to one opportunity after the next. Your co-workers in one startup become your co-founders in another. Thus, young professionals should be thoughtful about choosing a city early in their career because of this "settling in" phenomenon.

    • Pick a Stage. Next, determine what stage company you prefer to work in. Do you want a company that is still in the jungle phase (hacking through and trying to establish a path to success), the dirt road phase (established initial product-market fit and now trying to execute and scale in a relatively clear direction) or the highway phase (optimizing and scaling along a well-trod path)? This decision should be made somewhat based on risk appetite and somewhat on personal makeup and preferences. If you are a risk-taker and enjoy the challenges and roller-coaster ride, then the jungle phase is for you and you should bias towards seed funded or recently Series A funded companies that are pre-revenue. If you are more conservative, want a good salary and prefer to pick a "safe" winner, then a highway phase company that is pre-IPO or recently IPO'ed is the right choice.

    • Pick a Winner. Now that you have your target domain, geography and stage, focus on picking out a few winners - the hot companies that everyone thinks have great momentum and potential. After all, why would you want to work for anyone other than the absolute hottest company in a given category? How does an outsider figure out who the winners are in a given domain, market and stage? Ask a handful of insiders. Find the top 3 VCs, angels, tech lawyers and headhunters in your target geographical market and ask them for the two or three hottest companies that match the domain and stage you are interested in. Compile this list, pressure test it, and see what patterns you find. The firms who get the most mentions with the most compelling underlying evidence will naturally rise to the top.

    Below is a sample chart that I put together answering the question for someone interested in either e-commerce, mobile or SaaS companies in SF/SV, NYC or Boston. The first company listed is an earlier stage company (either jungle or dirt road) and the second company is a later stage company (either dirt road or highway). This list is illustrative - just to make the point - not in any way attempting to be comprehensive.

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