How Do I Find A Job After My Start-Up Fails? 

“When I shut down my company, I felt like a failure in many ways” – from “A Former Founder’s Guide to Getting Hired” by Sam Kane


I talk countless times per week to start-up founders, many of whom have raised a Series A financing or, in some cases, are just beginning the seed funding stage. Point in fact, many of these companies – for countless reasons – will never make it long term. When that final day of reckoning comes and you happen to be in the Captain’s Chair, will you have a game plan to turn the next page? What role will you pursue next? Will your start-up’s “failure” be perceived as a blemish? How are you going to handle the proverbial elephant in the room?

This blog posting from entrepreneur Sam Kane really hits on many of these issues that plague risk takers who find themselves on the downside of a challenge that just didn’t work out. I coach tech company CEOs and co-founders nightly on strategies for finding their next role. One of my key pieces of advice is to start your initial contact process (directly reaching out to board members and or company CEOs/influencers of interest) by finding common ground on issues that have equal EMOTIONAL appeal. Rather than making an immediate business case for why you could add value to their company, just get the conversation going around non-business issues – kids, hobbies, comments on their social media content, etc.

Once someone begins to positively engage with you around a “human interest,” they will be more open to eventually hearing your business pitch. Perhaps even more important however, they will be less likely to emphasize the negative aspects of your previous startup’s outcome and focus more on the learning and growth experience you developed as a result.

Read the full article by Sam Kane at:

How Much Should You Pay for a Start-Up CEO?

How Much Do Start-Up CEOs make? 

I get asked this question all the time, and, of course, it depends on so many factors – industry vertical, funding levels, comp structure (equity vs. variable trade-offs), stage of development, revenue levels, and so forth.  It also depends on the individual, what motives him/her, and WHY the CEO would even undertake such a challenge.  And then there’s the “X-Factor” – the Board really believes in the individual and knows the candidate will simply find a way to win.  So . . . the comp range would be somewhere between zero with equity only and a strong enough cash OTE target to incentivize a change.  In other words, it’s very subjective in the end.

Bringing on an early stage leader to build an organization, define a business’s future, establish a culture, scale the revenue curve, and raise more and more money; well, it’s not too difficult to see how tough of a job a start-up CEO role can be.  Hence, the comp range for start-up CEOs is very individualized and often based on the potential value the Board believes this one special individual can deliver. 

However, for those that still want some data points on the comp spectrum, here’s a really nice report from Kruze Consulting from Mar 2020 that breaks down seed and venture funded data (based on their start-up company analysis) that slices and dices venture tech CEO early stage salaries a million ways. 

Because there is so much variability in CEO comp based on the comp levers most important to the candidate, we often take a different approach:  1) establish very tight criteria upfront, 2) source spectacularly on-target people, 3)  discover what would motivate them to move, and 4) share that data with the client.  Then customize the offer based on those priorities most important to the candidate.  In many cases, you may find that the non-monetary benefits of the opportunity are frequently the great comp equalizer. 


Read the full article at: