Good news: I got an offer for a dream strategy role at a series C start up reporting directly to the Chief Finance & Strategy Officer (who also went to HBS and has amazing experience that I can learn from) Bad news: the base compensation is $150k ($60k lower than my base as a SM at Deloitte). The offer does include stock options. Do others who have made a jump from consulting to a start up have advice on how to approach deciding it’s worth the risk of the huge base salary cut?

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You have your answer- dream job!! Just make sure you are financially okay with taking a hit, talk to the SO And make sure he/she agrees and go for it. Don’t burn the bridges while leaving and you can always come back to D as far as you are okay with resetting the ppmd clock. I think if it’s a dream job, go for it!

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Thats quite significant 😬

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Yikes! How (if at all) have you approached negotiations so far? If these are the negotiated numbers, can you afford it? The reality is that working at a startup requires some level of pay cut. While some Series C unicorns pay well, for non-unicorns the comp gap tends to be especially large and persistent until you start entering a Series D+ Having said that, in my observations, people tend to understand if you take lower compensation at a startup than you would from an established industry player. Between that and the increasing number of state and local laws that prohibit asking about comp history, I wouldn’t worry about future outlook if that is a concern.

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Many series C companies cap pay at $165-$180k for the exec team to show they can effectively manage their burn (it might even be in their term sheet). Even if you were the CxO, you’d likely make less base than you are now at Deloitte. The risk capital may be there (I.e., you’ll make life changing amounts of money upon a successful exit) or maybe not. You can often define yourself in a spot where the outcomes of the role (or subsequent potential roles) really don’t make sense for against earning potential elsewhere.

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I made a very similar move ~2 years ago. Was initially very put off by low salary but was granted a nice pool of options. We’ve had two very successful fundraising rounds since and my options are now worth a significant amount of money. There is a significant amount of financial upside in this if you don’t need the salary. The work is quite interesting too. Overall it was a great move for me.

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Base is only one component - and an increasingly small one as you get more senior. Whats the RSUs/Options valued at and are they also offering annual cash bonus?

Does the $150k include the stock options or does that close the gap more? And if so, how much?

You’re supposed to negotiate on the options. But with that level of info, we can’t really help you.

The stock options will help decide - if there is significant upside potential it could be worth it

Are they going public soon? Series C is often that inflection point.

210 base as a SM? Wow nice

You shouldn’t take a “real” pay cut just because you’re going to a startup. You should expect a cut in your cash compensation, but options / equity have real value. VCs pay millions for options in these companies, you should be getting options and estimating what they could be worth based on different exit multiples adjusted for risk (you’ll need to determine how risk a company is to you).

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