Career Advice on How to Pick Companies

“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on, don’t ask what seat.” -Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.

When I graduated from college, I followed the advice of many of the most successful people in the world and joined a rocket-ship startup.

The company that I joined, DoorDash, is now a $60B+ public company. And the financial, reputational, and learning rewards are about as good as I could’ve dreamed of.

The philosophy is simple, joining an explosive startup is a low-risk, high-reward move that offers insanely high financial, career, learning, and networking upside.

These companies have established product-market fit and are relatively de-risked but haven’t become large companies yet.

On the contrary, joining an early-stage startup is very high risk and joining a mature company is low-reward.

Here’s a quick crash course on how to spot these breakout companies:

1) Look for startups backed by the best investors in the world

Your best bet is to follow the smartest money. In straightforward terms, this means targeting companies backed by Sequoia, Benchmark, Accel, and Andreessen Horowitz.

VentureLoop, AngelList, and Crunchbase are good places to search.

2) Look for startups on explosive trajectories that have product-market fit.

These startups aren’t figuring out whether what they’re doing will work. They’ve found something that works, and now they’re purely focused on scaling.

They’re likely in the Series B-C range and are at ~60-300 employees.

Finding these companies can be difficult, and convincing them to hire you can be even more challenging.

One of my good friends from DoorDash cold-emailed the CEO for 30 straight days before he got a response.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, do things that stand out in the hiring process.

And if you want to take a giant leap forward financially and in your career, join a rocket-ship startup.

P.S. If you want to go deeper on this topic, I’ve written a more in-depth guide here.

Cam Woodsum
I've been building digital businesses, wandering the world, and writing about optimizing life for freedom since early 2017. My mission is to lower the barrier for people who want to live with more freedom: whether that be as an entrepreneur, a digital nomad, an early retiree, or just as someone who wants to live a happiness-driven life.