About to receive an offer from a series A that has raised ~$16-17M so far. Currently my cash comp is $250K + equity. Do you think a startup can match that?

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Unlikely to match, even more so in this market. If you have 7-10 YOE and it’s a senior COS role the range is typically 165-200 base (usually no bonus for this stage)—in SF/NYC.

If you’re more junior comp will slide accordingly.

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You’re at offer stage and haven’t discussed comp yet? That would have been clarified at phone interview stage personally before potentially wasting my time.

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What M1 said

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$16-17M isn’t a lot. They’ll blow through that in a year. My budget is 10M and that’s only for people resources of about 100.

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That’s what I’m thinking P1. Like I need the escalation of trajectory as well

Unless it’s a service-based company where return on overhead is >10x, sounds unlikely. If they do, I’d consider that a red flag tbh. How long ago was their previous rounds (seed maybe)? If less than 2 years ago, definitely a red flag for me.

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CXO or VP may get 250k base at that stage. Chief of Staff? Doubtful, and if you do get it they’re being reckless with their money.

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Agree. But would think low base and higher equity at this stage

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Keep in mind that’s tech IPOs are at an all-time low. Might have to wait some time before cashing in on that equity

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That’s why I want to make sure the base is there

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Unless you're VP+, it's unlikely. They might provide decent equity, but the base will be harder to match.

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If you’ll be the VP of something then maybe!

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I was at a Series A startup based in SF that raised $24M and our Chief of Staff made $110k + equity that I’m not privy to in NYC. The CEO is a bit of a cheap ass, but that’s one data point for you.

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The question isn't so much how much funding they received - it's how long will that last them?

A business that's profitable and is reinvesting positive cashflow back into the business could be able to afford that. A business that needs a chunk of that 16-17M for salaries and operating costs because they're not profitable may not be able to afford that.

The other question is around whether they agree that your value add is 250k base or not. Judging by the other comments in USA start up markets right now its probably capped at 200 or something closer to that number. You should've sorted that out with the talent acq/ recruiter up front so you're not wasting your time.

likesmart

What is your current role and the one you’re moving to? And are you at a public company now?

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Chief of Staff for a company that small is gonna be grind. Most likely they’ll tell you that you’re going to be working long term strategy with the founders/CEO, but in reality you’ll be wearing 10,000 hats and probably a glorified admin. I’m not trying to be discouraging, but I’m currently doing a lot of startup consulting and seeing this happen all the time. I recently had a CEO make his Chief of Staff track down his backpack because he left it at a hotel.

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I got to the offer stage with a pre series A startup for a VP role. They had raised about €3M in a seed round and were profitable but were planning on raising another round to fuel growth. Offer was $220k base with 25% bonus target + equity.

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How much equity in terms of %? Typically I see early employees and key hires somewhere between 0.5-2% depending on experience and how much value they bring to the table (assuming you were one of the first like 5-10 hires).

Median for a Chief of Staff is somewhere around 160k plus equity right now. For a more senior COS role you could see a higher base. I wouldn’t expect a startup to match your comp for this role.

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Probably 120-150k plus equity, and the equity probably won’t be that great unless the company gets to unicorn status

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How do you feel about the company and product? The question you have to ask yourself is, if it doesn’t work out will you come out ahead or behind. You have to weigh both sides. Be an optimist and a pessimist.

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If it's a series A startup you're essentially an investor, but you're investing time and whatever the difference between your current comp and what they offer you is.

So really the question is, is the startup gonna be huge? If you can tell quickly if it's going to blow up or go bust, it might be worth a gamble bc your investment will have been small.

If it's got a longer projection or is a lifestyle startup (profitable but with a lower ceiling) then it might not be worth rolling the dice.

smart

Pretty helpful

If you take the job, it’s not for the money (but you might be very rich in future IF the company eventually succeeds several years down the road).

So if it’s not for the money, you’d better have a good reason to give up 250k per year + equity.

It’s wrong because the likely outcome is disappointment and you’ll be unhappy every day.

At early stage, you’ve got to do it for more than the money.

likehelpful

not a chance

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