Careers in Energy Industry Startups
Before you get caught up in the glamour of a particular startup opportunity, make sure you ask three key questions:
1. How much and what kind of funding does the company have? You may certainly want the stability of working for a company whose founders are self-funding operations. However, if the company has substantial outside funding from a reputable venture capital firm, then that's one more vote of confidence in the company's prospects. There are tons of entrepreneurs out there in the energy world--one filtering tactic is to follow the smart money and let it do part of the selection for you.
2. What value does the company's service or product bring to the energy market? If you can't understand what value there is in what the company is offering, then there's some chance that the market as a whole won't either. While people talk about how working for failed startups is a great learning experience, working for a successful one is usually an even better experience! So, try to join a winning team. Furthermore, if you don't believe the value proposition, those long hours will be hard to stomach.
3. What is the commercialization pace of the company? There are plenty of fuel cell companies that have been trundling along with prototype after prototype for years, with expectations of sustainable profitability still years in the future. In other words, not every "startup" is on a path towards launching new products or services in the near future. Make sure you understand the company's strategy and timeline, and how that impacts the job responsibilities and office environment.