How do people get jobs at “hot startups”?

This is a question I get asked every week. There’s not a week without an email or a LinkedIn message from a person who’d like some career advice and an introduction to a “hot” startup that’s hiring.

Most of the folks I know, understand that their “large” company is not growing as fast and providing them opportunities as quickly as they’d hoped to grow.

Hot startup looking to hire
Hot startup looking to hire

I get one of 3 questions:

  1. Can you please introduce me to some “hot” startups? The people who work in bigger companies don’t want to take a lot of risk, so they mean “well funded” and “growing well” when they say “hot”.
  2. Can you suggest a few “fast growing” companies that I can join? Friends who work at smaller, lesser know and slower growing companies would like names of some good companies and hopefully an introduction there.
  3. Do you know anyone at a good startup that’s hiring?

These 3 questions are the hardest to answer.

The best suggestions I have had so far are for my friends to:

a) Look at AngelList jobs

b) Network with their previous colleagues and managers who know them well, so they can vouch for them


c) Work on their LinkedIn profile so their profiles shows up for the keywords that recruiters are searching for.

The real answer is that most “hot” startups get a lot more people interested in them than the people they can accept.

So, the bar is fairly high.

To join a hot startup, you need to

a) be referred, by someone in that company who can vouch for your quality

b) be recruited by a head hunter with a mandate to hire for that position quickly

c) get introduced by someone the hiring manager trusts and believes has a high bar for talent.

Most startups post about 70-80% of the jobs (anecdotal information) they are looking to fill.

Finding out the unlisted positions and the executive positions, you have to be an insider – either know the hiring manager or the someone in the senior leadership team.

So, the best advice I have is

  1. Make a list of companies by categories, such as SaaS, Cloud Infrastructure, etc. which you think will do well.
  2. Go to Angel List to find out if they are hiring. Apply there
  3. Then go to LinkedIn to find out who can connect you to the hiring manager
  4. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and your title, and keywords that a recruiter might enter while looking for candidates. The keywords need to be Buzzword compliant unfortunately, so make sure you say Growth Hacker, not Marketing Manager, etc. I know this is lame, but in talking with 4-5 of my recently hired colleagues, this matters a lot

What does a PC do and how is it being replaced?

Global PC shipments fell almost 10% in Q1 to less than 65 Million for the first time since 2007.

The total installed base of PCs and desktop computers (consumer and business) is over a billion, whereas mobile phones are at 6+ Billion and smartphones at over 2 Billion.

Most people who wanted to buy a Personal computer have probably purchased it already.

Businesses are replacing PC’s now every 5 years instead of 3 and consumers are replacing their mobile phones every 2 years, skipping the PC altogether.

Most new home owners are buying an Alexa or a Smart Television instead of a PC.

The replacement cycle for televisions is now 5 years worldwide and 4 years in the US. Which means that the average television will get replaced faster than the average PC.

The PC was both, a consuming and a producing device.

Since the consuming has largely shifted to the phone, the PC tends to be used more for producing (writing, developing, etc).

That means both for the home and the business, the % of time the PC gets used has reduced on average by 20-30%.

Which means your PC should last you 20%-25% more than before.

This does not look too good for PC manufacturers overall. In the mobile-first, cloud-first world, the PC is becoming a device similar to the bread maker- most homes dont need one and can make do with an oven instead of a specialized appliance.

Facebook at work – Is it for Collaboration, Communication or Content Sharing?

I have talked to individuals from 2 companies that are trialing Facebook at Work. They were not on #slack before and were not using Sharepoint or Yammer, so this was a new experience for both the individuals I spoke with.

One company uses a hosted version of Exchange, and another, much smaller, use Google Apps.

I was curious as to what they use Facebook at Work for, and how that changes “work”.


The smaller company uses it similar to how many companies use Yammer (Internal social network) or Slack. Mostly for sharing updates (infrequently) and still found that most people were still using email more than Facebook at Work. They did however find that internal calls / video and otherwise were easier with FB@Work.  Which to me, indicates that conference calls, video chats, etc, will likely migrate from Skype, Google Hangouts and other conferencing solutions to Facebook@Work with larger adoption.

The larger company had Sharepoint, but were using it largely as a “hosted file sharing system” than an “Intranet” – remember that term?

A few people had downloaded the mobile app for FB@Work, but many were still checking their FB account (personal) more frequently than the FB@Work.

I have seen that in many other companies as well – large and small. People tend to use what they are used to – Even though Slack is getting good traction, I think they are likely in a lot of trouble, if FB@Work gets faster adoption.

HR organizations seemed to like FB@Work more, apparently since the larger company I spoke with, was trying to recruit more younger folks, who have a natural desire and tendency to adopt mobile first solutions for “keeping in touch with the office”.

So, who will likely be the winners and losers if FB@Work gets massive adoption?

First, I think, it is going to take at least 3-5 years for the product to get meaningful (100+ Million) users. Primarily because most companies still want to be sure about their security and privacy concerns. The real adoption barriers will be central IT teams, not users.

The winners: Smaller apps, that build connectors to FB, similar to SlackBots etc.

The losers: Intranet solutions, corporate Instant Messaging products and Cloud Storage products will all be fair game to get displaced, is my bet.

What do you think?

Hindsight Bias: Focus less on outcomes and more on the process


Most every serial entrepreneur will tell you to focus on the process and discipline (building a great product, iterating collecting customer feedback), not on the outcomes (getting sold, going IPO or raising funding).

Process (or approach) is the methodology to achieve something.

Outcome is the result.

Outcomes are decided by various factors, some within your control and others outside. Luck for example.

Most people outside the startup tend to focus on outcomes. “Wow, you got sold”, “Whoa you raised a lot of money”.

Inside your startup the only thing you need to focus on is the process.

If you have a great outcome, without a great process, it is likely luck and not easily repeatable.

If, however, you have a bad outcome and have a process, you can revisit your process and tweak it to ensure better outcomes.

A strong process is a guarantee — not of outcome or results, but of the highest probability of obtaining desired results.

Barry Ritholtz

Using technology to reduce cost of living vs. major life costs

Eli tries to address a good question on “How can we use technology to reduce poverty”? In this he proposes that the 3 major costs are housing, food and transportation.

I think that’s short term, though.

The major cost of “living” is actually education – or costs to educate a child.

If you ask anyone that has kids they will tell you that besides home and food the only thing they are saving for is kids education.

To raise a child costs about $500K in the US. The cost in the first 16 years is  a “nominal” $150K to the $250K+ spent on their higher education and then another $100K for their wedding.

Using technology to reduce the cost of education is being tried, for e.g. with MOOC’s, but there’s a lot we can do to make it much less expensive.

The only 2 ways to scale a startup

If you have anything you want to scale, I think there are only 2 ways to do so.

Before you start to scale you need to document the steps of any “process” or discipline you want to scale.

  1. Additive Scaling: Add more resources, servers, etc. to steps that need more help in your process.
  2. Subtractive Scaling: Eliminate steps by automation.

Which works better?

Additive works better if your are relatively early in your scaling and the steps themselves are hard to replicate.

Automation always works better in the long run though. Which is why algorithms and robots will eliminate many of the current “tasks” performed by humans.

Scale Your Startup
Scale Your Startup


Is it better or worse to start a company during a “downturn”?

I personally prefer to start companies and new ventures “all the time”.  Keep experimenting is my motto.

That said I have been more successful building on new ideas when the “market is not so good”.

Why? Since I have been largely working on software ideas, they involved hiring and building small technical teams.

It is “easier” to hire during a downturn is what I have seen.

While many folks prefer to stay at a large company to “weather the storm”, the good folks can get new opportunities all the time.

They tend to look for interesting new work that can keep them engaged for 2-3 years instead of treading water.

Startup during a downturn
Startup during a downturn

The personal blog of Mukund Mohan

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