Whenever someone tells me that want to join a startup, I always ask about their preferred stage. Typically, they don’t have a context for the stage name jargon so I go through the common ones:
- Idea Stage – An idea is in place. Maybe there’s a team, maybe it’s just a founder. There isn’t much here yet other than an idea and a dream.
- Seed Stage – The prototype works. Usually a few customers or beta users that are trying things out. Likely some friends and family funding or lots of sweat equity.
- Early Stage – Product/market fit is solid and there are paying customers. Revenue is in the mid six-figures to low single digit millions. Customer acquisition is working and repeatability is the focus.
- Growth Stage – Things are humming along nicely with the overall business cranking. Revenue is at least $5M and often much higher. Scaling is the main focus and there’s a path to the next major milestone.
With each stage comes the typical pros and cons as well as a risk/reward trade off for potential new employees. When seeking a job at a startup, it’s important to understand the standard stages and think through what’s most appropriate.
What else? What are some more thoughts on the four startup stages?