Insights and Opinions

What's preventing you from finding and joining Start-Ups that will succeed?

All of us who venture into small businesses want to be part of a big success story.  Facebook, Google and Apple have all become household names making so many of their teams multi-millionaires and industry icon's.  It's the ultimate dream of founders, early employee's and industry talent that build the business and all want to be part of an incredible journey and reap the rewards that come with a successful outcome.  

Having been on five different teams that enjoyed these outcomes, I have enjoyed interviewing hundreds of potential candidates that have wanted to join these journeys.  During the interview the best candidates focus on what market opportunity is for the business. Too many spend most of the time talking about the job responsibilities, title and number of reports they will have, and often miss out on the bigger opportunity.   

Having learned from great mentors the art of choosing business winners, one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was ‘once you have identified the best business opportunity get on that train no matter what the role, compensation or responsibility'.  That still couldn't be truer.

If you want to be part of a start up success story, then you'll need to focus more on the business opportunity during your interviews and getting your foot in the door rather than joining only if you have the right title, responsibilities and monthly income.

I'd be remiss if I didn't spend a moment talking about how to evaluate business winners.  Simply put it comes down to evaluating four key areas;  


1. Market Opportunity (Size, Growth, Competition)

2. Technology  (Developed and Vision)

3. Capital Structure  (Investors & Employee Pool)

4. People  (Founders & Management)

Spending more time on these topics during your initial meetings and evaluation of the business opportunity will give you a better sense of whether the business will thrive. According to Harvard Business Review 94% of technology start-ups fail (which means they run out of funding/money before they are profitable and self sustaining), so choosing the 6% that will succeed is a skill that starts with the four questions above. Good luck.

Nick Hulse is the Chief Revenue Officer of Rubicon Project, and responsible for all customer facing teams, product marketing and international operations. Most recently in Silicon Valley as a software executive, Nick has enjoyed great success in the mobile, software, infrastructure, and services industries over his 20-year career. You can read more from Nick at his blog,