Summary: When choosing your next company, first determine which stage (pre-product fit, post-product fit, growth, or scale) is the best match. Usually only 1 or 2 stages make sense for any given job search.
Just landed here via First Round Review, this article exceeded my expectations and I'm excited to see what else you have to say about career management. Thanks for creating this newsletter!
Thanks, Nikhyl for this piece. The insights are just mind-blowing. Thanks for starting the Substack.
I'm 35+ and have stayed in stage 4 company for a decade. Started a couple of things after graduation; it didn't go anywhere. On break now, exploring new things to do, start-up, writing... How do I maximize my chances for $ + reputation?
Will keep coming back to your posts to see what you have to say on this topic on subsequent posts.
this was such a great article! As someone currently applying to startups, the information here was so valuable.
Great analysis Nikhyl!
+1 landed here from twitter - this is gold and look fwd to reading more of your posts
Landed here from Lenny's podcast. Great timeless piece on picking companies in different PMF stages, Nikhyl!
My personal experience has been very "crafter" focused - worked on four pre-PMF products at early-stage startups, big tech and my own venture in the past five years. Unfortunately none of these products was a wild success, so thinking about switching to a post-PMF product to develop different skillsets and experience. (I try not to judge my fit as a crafter solely based on the outcomes as achieving PMF is rare and most products/startups fail for various reasons)
Hi Nikhyl, really really great ariticle! it brings structure in career development thinking! I have two questions, wonder if you can have a chance to answer, thanks!
1. What skills and value we should have/prepare before joining different stage of companies?
2. What skills and value we should develop/earn after joining different stage of companies?
I understand this relates to the final goal of career development. Let's say the goal is to be an executive of a late stage or hyper growth stage company. And it will be great if you can share some examples of career growth chart to this final goal. Thanks!
Thank you for this great article! Do you have any advice or tips on how to find companies that are in growth mode (v.s. Product Fit or Scale mode)?
Are there certain metrics you look at (ex. revenue growth/DAV growth) or other signals to filter on? If there are certain metrics that are useful, where can one look these up (as a lot of these are not easily available as the companies in this stage are private)?
Hi Nikhil, superb article. Agree to all points. Is there a framework to determine which company is in Post-PMF stage or Growth stage? I guess you can't get that idea by simply stalking the company.
"Post-product fit companies need functional experts who can introduce stability.
People who thrive here can introduce the right amount of structure and process without frustrating founders and entrepreneurs."
Nikhil, We have experienced some sort of PMF and are now looking at resources that help us to stabilize. How do I balance the agility and the stability aspect of my product? Is there any guidance that allows me to introduce processes without completely losing the ability to run fast.
What is your advice for joining an acquired startup? Given that most acquisition fail or don't give good results (~70% fail), should one try to get that experience under their belt?
How do you deal with the criticism of gatekeepers / recruiters who often times ask you as to why you switched over 4 companies in the last decade?
I do believe that that part of the equation is missing. I have come across people who have said that after switching companies frequently - they are suffering from this perception.
Do you think any of these stages is more suited to junior devs right out of college/bootcamp?
Great analysis! In my opinion it misses a fifth step : decline. We don’t always know the company is in decline when joining it and it could be war.