🌞 Tech & Startup Exit Opportunities
Brought to you by Earlywork and The Aussie Corporate
Exiting our drafts and entering your inbox is Earlywork #78, a cheeky newsletter sharing insights into future-focused careers for the next generation of founders & operators.
If you’re not yet in the Earlywork community, come grow your career alongside thousands of other young people interested in tech, startups & social impact:
🐝 The Buzz
Here are the five biggest news stories across the ANZ tech & startup scene you need to know this week:
Up Bank making a splash with its reverse-BNPL product Maybuy. Melbourne friends, tell us what the pop-up is like! 👀
Inflation is hitting hard. The humble Maccas cheeseburger is getting a price hike. What’s next? Costco hotdogs? 😫
Instagram is backtracking on some of its recent changes. Less TikTok-y, more Instagram-y please! 🥺
VCs are getting real with some of their startup valuations. Canva is taking a $14B dip on Blackbird’s books 😰
New Gmail is coming! How will it stack up to some of the sexier email clients like Superhuman? 🦸♀️
💡Weekly Cheeky Tip
A crossover episode!?
Here’s something a bit different from your usual Earlywork newsletter…
We’ve partnered with The Aussie Corporate, your go-to content creator for an inside look into corporate Australia.
In this piece, we take a look into what it’s really like to move into startups & tech from a corporate career.
There’s a heap of super exciting opportunities in the Aussie tech & startup scene, but it can be a confusing transition to navigate from the traditional corporate world.
This guide is packed with the most information you need to make the leap.
Let’s dive in 🤿
To truly immerse yourself, follow Earlywork on LinkedIn, join the Earlywork Village for tech career resources & events, and visit @theaussiecorporate on Instagram for more memes and insights into corporate Australia (shameless plugs).
Why Transition to Tech or Startups?
Tech is a broad term encompassing a whole spectrum of tech companies. In this guide, we mainly focus on established Big Tech (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft, Atlassian) and start-ups. So why choose Big Tech or Startups?
Generally speaking, every traditional sector has a tech equivalent or counterpart. For example, health has healthtech, finance has fintech and education has edtech.
For a comprehensive list of the various industry verticals, check out this resource from PitchBook.
We’ve noted some of the top verticals in Australia and some International examples below:
Startup stages & tech company growth
As with any profession, you’ll have a range of sizes in startups and tech companies. For further reading check out Earlywork’s guide on startups vs scaleups. But, broadly speaking, there are four key stages for startups and tech companies.
The high risk, high reward option. You will be offered loads of stock options and the exciting opportunity of being "one of the first". This might sound great but expect a potential pay cut and gruelling hours due to the lean staffing. Apply within if you're a dreamer.
Typical Funding Stage: Pre-seed → Seed
A startup's product or service will meet strong market demand if it reaches this level. This implies that new consumers, recurring customers, and billing will all rise. Expect decent stock options as the company continues to grow (but this time, with money). Promotions are reasonably straightforward, so there's still room to grow.
Examples: Vow and Checkbox
Typical Funding Stage: Seed → Series A
A scaleup has an established business strategy, which allows it to pursue more ambitious targets, such as expanding into other industries or new markets. You'll be enticed with above-market compensation and a clear structure and programs within these companies.
Examples: Eucalyptus and Dovetail
Typical Funding Stage: Series B +
Big tech are a whole other monster, strapped with cash and a well-established business model. This kind of startup isn't a startup anymore. This kind of company naturally offers limited stock options but great bonuses and excellent pay.
Examples: Atlassian, Amazon, Microsoft
How to choose a company
It can be challenging to choose which startup to join. Whilst many traditional corporates have been around for decades with established brands, Startups can be a bit of an enigma. If you’re keen on learning more, you can check out this article from Earlywork on how to be your own career VC.
Here are four factors in assessing when potentially joining a startup:
A large, growing market indicates that the market may be attractive for a startup to enter. Consider who the competitors are, how segmented is the market and how loyal are the customers.
It's essential to define what the fundamental good or service is that the startup is providing. It's essential to understand the trajectory of the product and to know if the company will be able to grow against other products in the market.
Team shapes both culture and product at a startup or technology company. It's important to answer two key questions. First, is this a team I can see succeeding in the future? Is this a team that I want to work with? Feel free to contact your team for a coffee to get to know them!
Compensation is important, as with any profession, so be sure the startup you're joining has adequate money to pay you. Be sure to enquire about the startup's financial runway: the greater the runway length, the more financially secure the company.
What roles are available to me?
Navigating the myriad of divisions and subdivisions in a startup can be challenging.
Here’s a broad overview of some of the most common teams and roles in technology and startups.
For a more detailed breakdown, check out Earlywork’s no-Bullshit Guide to Junior Job Titles in Tech.
Product (the jack of all trades): A high-level operational role where the key responsibility is to coordinate projects across different areas of the business, monitor their progress and boost team performance.
Engineering (the builder): As an engineer, you'll spend time developing the product, fine-tuning technology strategy, iterating on the product and potentially optimising the development team.
Sales (the hustler): Sales role focused on implementing a company’s sales strategy and ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales process.
Design (the creative): Designers are responsible for how users look and interact with the product, the company's branding and sales/marketing.
Growth Marketing (the experimenter): In this role, you’ll focus on rapid experimentation through online channels, backed by data analysis, to find marketing approaches that optimise customer acquisition, retention and referrals.
Business Development/Partnerships (the dealmaker): An externally-focused role that may either be focused on acquiring new customers (sales) or helping build relationships with other companies/stakeholders (partnerships).
Customer Success (the people person): A customer-oriented role focused on helping existing product or service users, whether it be onboarding, support, renewal, upgrades, etc.
Operations (the person who gets shit done): An all-round business-oriented role focused on creating and improving processes and projects across the company, often with some data analysis skills involved.
Finance (the numbers person): As a part of the finance team, you'll oversee and manage the company's financial operations, managing the company's overall economic health.
HR (the heartbeat): HR encompasses all things related to the management of human capital. This involves legal and regulatory control, recruiting, onboarding, record management and culture building.
Data (the analyser): There are many roles in data, including data analyst, data engineer, data scientist and machine learning engineer, here’s a great article that breaks down the differences. Generally, you’ll be working across large data sets, wrangling information to produce results efficiently and effectively for the company.
How can I land a role?
There are three common routes to landing a role in tech & startups (and a cheeky bonus route):
LinkedIn DMs & Cold Emails: The key to landing referrals and creating your job opportunities is through LinkedIn messages. If you want to learn how to do this, check out this guide from Earlywork.
Referrals: Referrals can be an excellent way to make your application stand out and get your resume to the top of the pile. Finding a contact on the inside also helps you to build a more intimate understanding of the company.
Applications: Your standard application process will involve filling out a form, potentially undertaking testing, technical interviews, behavioural interviews and even a case study.
Earlywork: For access to Australia and New Zealand’s go-to job board for early-career roles in tech, startups & social impact check out Gigs by Earlywork. If you want to join our talent collective, check out Talent by Earlywork. And even in the Earlywork Village, there are lots of employers looking to hire top young talent.
The big question: how much can I make?
This will vary depending on the role, industry and company.
Check out The Aussie Corporate salary guide and the great resources at Think & Grow for more information.
Let’s hear from some Earlyworkers who have made the leap
Why did you transition?
My goal was never to transition into an early-stage start-up or crypto. But, when the opportunity came up, it aligned with the things that were most important to me in a role;
Building something that solves a problem
Being part of a team where I felt I could bring value
I had worked for 3.5 years across blue-chip corporations in marketing & product management, so transitioning to an early-stage crypto start-up was 100% outside my comfort zone. However, after talking to my mentors and self-reflection, I realised it was the right time for me to take the riskier path.
How have you found it?
When people say crypto is 24/7, they aren’t lying. There’s constant energy of wanting to build something new. This can be equally invigorating as it can be exhausting, so building grit is essential. It’s a truly global environment where everyone is working together, and that means you’ll be having meetings with people in Europe, Asia, America, and Africa — sometimes all at once. Since the transition, my biggest challenge has been working past my fear of failure and becoming better at effective decision-making. What I love the most is the pace and the feeling of team accomplishment each time we launch a new product or feature.
How did the move happen?
I'd been working in consulting for ~4 years and was looking for a bit of a change of scenery. I've got a few friends that work in Product/tech, and they'd shared their experiences with me. I spent a bit of time understanding how my consulting skills could be translated and applied to the product/tech world and the gaps I needed to work on. Finally, an opportunity arose, and I decided to take the leap.
How have you found it so far?
It's only been five months, but I'm enjoying this type of work. I've had to rapidly learn and adapt to different working styles, but I was used to dealing with that when working on various consulting engagements. The most significant difference for me has been the methodologies applied to prioritisation and decision-making.
Any highlights, lowlights or advice?
Team culture & work-life balance!
Feeling supported in learning and taking ownership of initiatives is excellent.
Going from feeling very confident about the subject matter to being unconfident is scary!
Network with people who have made the transition to understand whether it's right for you and what skills you need to develop before doing so.
Don't be afraid to be up-front about your skill gaps, but show a willingness to learn and adapt quickly.
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Ciao for now,
Team Earlywork (Dan, Jono, Marina, Jarrad & Varun)