• Justin Swart

4 Reasons for leaving the Corporate Rat Race to join a Scaleup

Bijgewerkt: 17 sep 2019

Remember when leaving a cushy corporate gig to take a job at a high-growth tech company was considered risky, or even foolish? Much was talked about jeopardising secure career trajectories or risking unexplainable, even downright embarrassing gaps in one’s CV should the startup fail.

Gone are those days. Fast growing tech companies have become appealing employers for the excitement, opportunities, their fast pace and the possible reward of a successful exit. And despite all the hype around founders and entrepreneurship, we can still witness regular pitting of the „startup type“ against the „corporate type“ when it comes to talent. My experience of recruiting for high-growth tech companies for almost 20 years has taught me that there is not only a place but a need for both types. And that’s especially true for hyper-growth companies. Let me tell you why:

Your management know-how will move the needle

It‘s no secret that the excitement for many young professionals around joining a startup lies in the lack of „structure and processes“ as they will have greater responsibility much faster than their corporate peers.

But here is the naked truth: once a business received a first or second VC round, it gathers velocity and must rapidly cross the bridge from startup to scaleup. That means moving from the “founding few” to a “grown-up” company that matches its product and growth ambitions. Hiring, onboarding, let alone leading winning teams that can scale at rapid pace will be an unfruitful, and down-right problematic endeavour without putting structures and processes in place. The jack-of-all-trades kind of professional that an early stage venture relied on will need to be paired with experts, that bring order to chaos with functional and management know-how. That‘s where your experience garnered in big companies can really come to shine.

Your expertise can shape the future of your sector

The raison d’etre of many new tech businesses is to disrupt traditional ways of doing business, or even entire industries. But to build solid products and services that deliver on the ambition, founders need to bring „insider“ knowledge on board. Hiring a professional with the exact kind of experience from the corporate side will be indispensable for navigating the intricacies of a specific marketplace, or for advancing a business model that evolves, disrupts, or even upends a sector. The benefit? You can take your career to the next level and take ownership for shaping the future of your industry.

You can actually have a say in what happens in the business

By necessity, startups are small, and every employee has to wear many different hats on a daily basis. While much of the glory in the startup world is assigned to the founders, it’s the founder’s team that is doing the exciting and important work of building the future. That means everyone, and especially those in leadership positions have a very real opportunity to help define and direct the business. You have an active say in how the business should operate, what it should do, and where improvements could be made. You’re no longer just a number in the corporate machine, but instead you are operating it. You are driving it forward. The company is growing? That means you are growing.

Innovation is part of your job description

Once injected with funding, especially of the VC kind, scaleups move fast, much faster than both, their startup and their corporate counterparts. Rapid testing and implementation of innovative ideas is a key part of this world. Basically, it’s an unspoken rule in your job description that you will innovate. Yes, you’ll help with the overarching innovative idea of the business, but you’ll also do it internally. You’ll be fixing and improving internal processes, you may even redefine your own job along the way, and constantly work on making innovation a business-as-usual process within the business. If this is something you battle with on a day-to-day basis in your corporate cubicle, it might be time to look for a change?

Moving from a large corporation to the startup world is not for everyone, but for those considering the change, it is a chance to put all that know-how to direct use with immediate impact on the business and even entire industries. It’s your opportunity to not only be part of, but to lead that change.

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