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Hello everyone, I hate my current job in finance. In fact, my internships/summer stints/recent jobs have scarred me, and I want to leave the industry as a whole.

5-10 years from now, I want to be running my own company. This takes time to develop.

Meanwhile, i'm thinking it may make some sense to work for a startup to learn the trade.

I'm willing to take a 20Kish pay cut. Any anecdotal evidence of anyone who has gone down this route?

THANK YOU!

Comments (11)

  • Kenny Powers's picture

    This coming from someone who has been involved in a few starups now, just wanted to preface it incase you want to get pissed off at me for saying this. (Also assuming you mean a tech start up)

    Having an end game of "I want to be running my own company[startup]" just flat out isn't going to work. You can't plan to just have a startup. These things involve a lot of luck, trust me, a lot, to get off the ground. Besides, what would your startup be doing? You don't just wake up one day and say, "ok, today I'm going to finally start that startup" without having an idea long ahead of time. And even still, what start with is often vastly different than what you end up with (assuming it lasts long enough to be anything).

    Trying to work at a startup is probably a really good idea if you actually want to do this...HOWEVER unless you have technical skills like you're a really great LAMP stack developer or something, you won't get a job doing anything different than what you're doing right now (financial analysis of some kind). (In NYC at least) There seems to be a lot of people lately who are trying to transition from finance to the startup world and from what I've seen it goes very poorly in general for a few reasons:
    1. Your skillsets are in financial analysis of some kind, and that's what you're going to be hired to do at Meetup, or Taap it, or whatever.
    2. Your job will involve an insane amount of grunt and leg work like spending your Tuesdays cold calling VCs because your startup needs more money or sweeping the floor because your startup fired your janitor to save money. Finance people, from what I've seen, tend to really hate this kind of stuff because it's hectic and fly by wire.
    3. Flat out, it's just not as romantic as you think it will be. The startup world is fucking competitive, and it's often not the best ideas that do well but instead the people who do well are those who grit their teeth the longest. Living Social or Twitter glorify the industry but it's tons of luck and disappointment.

    Not to burst your bubble, but just take what I'm saying into account, and be prepared to do the same kind of work you're doing now and slowly, you'll be able to do something else.

    My drinkin' problem left today, she packed up all her bags and walked away.

  • swagon's picture

    Kenny, while the work would still be "financial analysis" wouldn't the work be much different than valuation and deal structuring, i.e. operational finance? FP&A, projecting account balances with more accounting assumptions, watching over the P&L? Not that that's THAT different, but still seems pretty different...I'm I wrong about my assumptions?

    Also, I appreciated your input but it just wasn't clear to me what would be so bad about a start-up finance gig...assuming i don't have to cold call VCs, what would be so bad? I would think operational finance would be fun?

    I was confused on number 3 as well...was that point simply meant to say there's a high likelihood your start-up will, unlike twitter or living social, fail, which means you'll be out of a job?

  • workerbee's picture

    If you go into a start-up small enough you can definitely add a lot of value if you work your ass off. This is different from working your ass off in IB. Many former IB analysts and associates are product and/or project managers because the underlying skill-set is very valued in the start-up world ie. working hard, driving down analysis, developing action plans, etc, etc. Remember owning your own businss or joining a start-up is not sitting and thinking but doing. There is a key difference. Also its a lot of work and no glory. You are just trying to stay alive and be around to keep the lights on the next day. Thats why joining a late-stage might be a better option: ie. Groupon, Gilt, Twitter, Zanga. There are more definied jobs and roles there where you could definitely make a play.

  • In reply to swagon
    Kenny Powers's picture

    swagon wrote:
    Kenny, while the work would still be "financial analysis" wouldn't the work be much different than valuation and deal structuring, i.e. operational finance? FP&A, projecting account balances with more accounting assumptions, watching over the P&L? Not that that's THAT different, but still seems pretty different...I'm I wrong about my assumptions?

    Also, I appreciated your input but it just wasn't clear to me what would be so bad about a start-up finance gig...assuming i don't have to cold call VCs, what would be so bad? I would think operational finance would be fun?

    I was confused on number 3 as well...was that point simply meant to say there's a high likelihood your start-up will, unlike twitter or living social, fail, which means you'll be out of a job?

    swagon, yes, very good point man! most of the finance related work would be P&L and Financial Planning, my bad for not clarifying that before.

    I didn't mean to say that it would be a bad gig at a startup, but just that OP was trying to get out of finance and going to a startup won't do that, he'd just be doing finance at a startup.

    and by point 3, i just meant to say that it isn't all fun and cool work. I'd see people come to work where I was and be shocked that we were doing really menial shit a lot of the time and not just developing. it takes time to get used to a startup environment, especially if you're coming from a very structured job

    My drinkin' problem left today, she packed up all her bags and walked away.

  • DebunkingMyths's picture

    A few routes

    IB Industry Group --> Go work in corp dev for a client --> Get hands-on experience --> start a new biz (maybe stop by a VC shop to get some diversity)

    IB Industry Group --> PE --> VC -- > Get involved in a bunch of startups

    Any job - quit - go work at a startup - hopefully it doesn't go bust - then start your own or cash out