This post was originally published in OnStartups. I hope to be doing further guest posting on that site, which is one of my favorites. Thanks to Dharmesh Shah for his edits.
Don’t have an idea yet for a startup?
Then get off your butt and go work for someone else’s cool startup! And the first place I would want to work would be a company that has momentum, powerful friends, and has been thoroughly vetted by pros.
How can you identify these opportunities? It is easy–just look at the companies the best venture capitalists are backing. A company that has just received a round of funding with star investors definitionally is the kind of place you should be working at to best experience the highs and lows that startups are about…and by screening for companies to work for via the lens of a VC, you improve the odds that there are more of the highs.
Check out the job postings from Sequoia Capital, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Spark Capital, Benchmark, First Round Capital, Kleiner Perkins, etc. And, of course, HubSpot (Dharmesh’s startup) has raised over $50 million from top-tier VCs and is looking for great talent.
Not quite as efficient, but just as valuable is to hang out at a top accelerator and meet the companies there. Y-Combinator has its own job board, as does TechStars, and I suspect that many of the accelerators in the TechStars Network, Dogpatch Labs, FounderFuel, MassChallenge, etc. will have something up soon if not already.
Last of all, there’s the hackathons, get-togethers, and other social events, planned and unplanned. But if it were me looking for a job, I’d go with the folks that have already passed one of the hardest startup challenges–raising bucks. As Damon Runyon said, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong…but that’s the way to bet.”
PPS–If you’re interested in becoming a VC, I give the same advice: go work for a startup first.