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Startup founders: Here’s how to convince people to join your company over the big tech giants

startup founder

In a lot of ways, it doesn’t make much sense to leave a high-paying job at a big tech company and join a scrappy little startup. You’ve got a fat paycheck; job security; excellent benefits; work-life balance; and an opportunity to work on game-changing technology.

So as a startup founder, how do you convince people to join your ship and help start the next Google or Microsoft or Amazon?

 To be responsible for success and failure in the most acute of ways — there’s nothing like that at a big company.
“You have to sell them on the experience they’re going to get,” Sudip Chakrabarti, partner at Madrona Venture Group, said during a panel discussion Thursday hosted by TiE Seattle at Create33 in Seattle. “Yes, you can go to Amazon. Or you can come to the startup and really own something holistically and really grow.”

Early-stage startups can’t compete on salary. It has to be about the mission and the opportunity.

“To be responsible for success and failure in the most acute of ways — there’s nothing like that at a big company,” said Julie Sandler, managing director at Pioneer Square Labs. “Some of the best rising stars at startups in our portfolio just embrace the adrenaline and the risk and the uncertainty and the ownership that goes along with that — ownership in every sense of the word.”

There’s also a difference between starting something from scratch — “you have to be somewhat irrational and crazy to do it,” Chakrabarti said — or joining a company that already has some momentum.

“When you’re joining a rocket ship that has all the potential in the world, a relatively untapped market, sheer opportunities and value creation for your customer — to own a big part of that business is a really exciting thing,” Sandler said. “It’s something that you won’t find at Amazon and Microsoft or companies that are further along.”

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