Have you noticed that there are very few job listings for business development, marketing, operations, and other business-related functions at startups? It seems like all the non-technical jobs get snatched up before they are even made public.
Well, that is sort of true.
What many people don’t realize is that there is a big secret behind finding these business jobs in StartupVille: these jobs usually start with investors.
Aside from money, one of the most important things that investors bring to the table is hiring assistance. Within their portfolio companies lies a gold mine: a pool of talent from previously successful companies.
When a company is raising funds, they have to inform investors about where the funds will be allocated. This includes hiring costs. Therefore, investors know which functions are needed in the company long before these positions are publicly listed. Successful investors are always on the hunt for top talent to strengthen the companies they invest in.
In 2010, I was interested in joining an early-stage technology company in NYC, so I began reaching out to a few investors. Mo Koyfman, an Aviary board member who was recently promoted to General Partner at Spark Capital, thought that I would be a good fit to help with business development, so he introduced me to Aviary co-founders Avi Muchnick and Michael Galpert. I joined the company a few weeks later and the rest is history.
Not a week goes by that I don’t get an email from a VC or angel investor looking to fill a business-centric position at a startup they’ve recently funded. Case in point: a few days ago, a friend passed along an email from an investor looking to fill business positions at Fancy Hands and ChatID, two great startups. I just checked the Fancy Hands job page and there is no business position listing. Maybe it was filled; maybe they haven’t had a chance to put it up yet. Regardless, my point remains the same: investors are the best starting point to find a business-related position at a startup.
I emailed a few friends who are active investors in the tech ecosystem, and each admitted to helping fill business positions. However, when pressed for details, some were less forthcoming. One explained that if they were to publicly talk about it, it would open the floodgates for people to blitz them with requests for job placement. Investors don’t want to deal with the inbound of people looking for jobs; rather, they want to be selective on who they put in front of their investments to hire.
Two NY-based investors did cite two examples of recent business jobs they helped facilitate. They were very explicit in saying that they didn’t give the people the jobs; the candidates earned it themselves. They just initiated the introduction, the rest was up to the person. David Tisch Managing Director at TechStars/The Box Group told me that he connected Jeremy Bass with Jason Baptiste, CEO of Onswipe, and he eventually joined the team as the director of biz dev. An introduction made by Sim Blaustein, Principal at BDMI and formerly at High Line Venture Partners, led to Bamboom’s hiring of Nick Sallon.
Now that you know the big secret behind finding business jobs in StartupVille, what can you do about it?
Instead of pursuing one company with a single job listing, go after a few investors with many companies in their portfolio. This casts a wide net and gives you the access that you would never have on your own. If you can prove to investors that you would be a valuable asset to any startup in their portfolio, they will make it their duty to get you in front of those companies.
Having trouble getting in front of investors? Exploring that is worthy of another post, but here are a few quick tips:
- Investors like to be introduced by people they know and trust. They are very busy investing in and helping with startups they like. You need to identify a mutual connection who is close with them and ask them for the introduction.
- Investors are always on the hunt for good ideas with strong teams. If you know of a company that you think is going places, get it on the investor’s radar. Blind reach outs don’t usually work, but if the company is compelling enough they might just bite.
- Networking is one of the very obvious answers, but this is one of the best ways to meet investors. Figure out which events they are going to and get in front of them. Don’t scare or stalk them, just casually meet them (or get introduced there by mutual friends).
Alex Taub leads business development and partnerships at Aviary. He blogs at AlexsTechThoughts.com.
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