10/27/2019 Amy Cell, Founder & CEO entrepreneurs
Startup Management and Talent Compensation

I am looking forward to presenting at the Michigan Angel Summit on November 12th a talk entitled, “Startup Management and Talent Compensation.” 

Preparing for this presentation has been thought provoking as I reflect on the 650+ searches that my Human Resources outsourcing and recruiting firm has done over the past five years where compensation is always a key point in terms of attracting and retaining the right person.  

I have seen a broad range of compensation expectations - from highly qualified CEOs willing to work for equity to those that won’t consider an opportunity under $350K in base salary and matching bonus.

Over the years, I have also noticed different stages of startup growth - from the “garage stage” where 1-2 people in a lab or garage are trying to invent something commercially viable - to the growth or “second stage” where the product and market risk have been addressed.  

Each of these different stages has different hiring needs, and different options in terms of how to compensate the key talent that is needed to move from one stage to the next. I am trying to pull together a framework of the different stages, the specific roles needed at each stage, and the market compensation for each of these roles. I will be presenting this information at the Summit, and will also share it with anyone else that would find it helpful.

But, the first step is getting the stages nailed down, and that is where I could use some help.

Here are the draft stages that I come across through our work with startups. Okay, so yes, every startup is unique, but I am trying to come up with a general and understandable framework. Here goes:

Four Stages of a Startup

Stage What is it? Key Issues Skills needed
Garage Stage An inventor or small team think that they are onto something! No rules, process or documentation. Does this solution address a need in the market? Is there a viable business

Making the MVP. Talking to potential customers.

Early Startup There is a small team and equity arrangements are formalized. A promising prototype has been developed and now the focus turns to business development - customers, partners and markets. How can we find customers and grow? How can we fund our plans? How should we refine our product?

Selling the product. Raising money.

Later Startup The team has grown and there is revenue - yeah! How do we retain our customers? How do we scale?

Keeping customers happy. Planning for growth.

Growth Stage You are starting to put resources into support functions like project management, HR, finance, purchasing, etc. How do we manage growth? How do we increase market share? Process documentation and development. Building an organization beyond the founders. Caring about, and influencing culture.


My “Ask” of You

Does this framework make sense to you? What am I missing? Please let me know - the full report will be available in November, too. Please help me make it as useful as possible for Michigan startups!

Email me at Amy@AmyCellTalent.com or ring me at 734-657-0370 any time.

I look forward to sharing this framework at the Summit and hope to see you there!




The second annual Michigan Angel Summit will allow you the opportunity to learn more about angel investing and to connect with other angels helping to grow and diversify Michigan’s economy while growing their own investment portfolios. Click here for a glimpse of the day's agenda https://www.michiganangels.org/michigan-angel-summit

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