I spend most of my day talking to potential employees for my new startup and to my own team. Having seen multiple ups and downs of the tech world for the last 25 years, both in the Silicon Valley and in India, I continue to see very smart people make one simple mistake - not asking common sense questions.
All startup founders, both in India and the Silicon Valley are realising that the endless venture-funding pipe has dried up. We were in a bubble. Whether we are in a "correction" right now or "crash" will only be judged after it is all over. Most tech companies in the world, small or large, are taking a beating. There is less money to go around and you're going to be affected too.
Having said that, this is a great time to be in a startup. With all the noise and fizz going out, some really good companies will be created now. If you are in one of these, you'll not only end up very wealthy with your stock options but also do high quality work.
Here is what you should do as an employee before joining a startup, and even while working for one:
And here are the three key questions you should ask the founders:
You should not expect perfect answers to these questions, there are none. Instead, make sure you get authentic answers. At the end of the day, it is all about trust. In both successful and failed startups, the worst emotion I've seen in very hard-working people is the sense of betrayal and you really want to avoid that.
If you enjoyed the boom, good for you! But be prepared to ride out the bust. This too shall pass. Smartphones, Cloud and Social Media are all game-changers and the new world order will have some great companies who will create serious wealth for investors, employees, and entrepreneurs!
Bala Parthasarathy is a serial entrepreneur working currently on a stealth-mode startup and was previously associated with AngelPrime (now Prime Venture Partners).