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？”
• 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。
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.