India has paved its way to secure the third position in the world in terms of the number of startups – 4200 and counting – with almost three to four new start-ups popping up every day. Interestingly, 72% of the start-up founders are less than 35 years old; making India home to the youngest entrepreneurs in the world.
These statistics may sound promising as start-ups will create employment for many. However, in 2015 we saw a global slowdown which resulted in the crunch for funding for many start-ups which resulted in many shutting shop and mass lay-offs. Hence, it is very important for students to seriously consider various parameters before joining a startup.
Here are a few questions students should ask for utmost clarity to ensure they’re not signing up for a raw deal.
What’s the product idea? Joining a company with a completely new idea can be risky. Many startups have failed just because they intended to deliver a product or service which had no market demand. You need to ask yourself whether the product really has the potential to go beyond fancy presentations and sell. For this, you may consider looking at its competitors and substitutes as well.
How about a background check? There is nothing inappropriate to ask where the funding is coming from in order to take a peek into how well the company will be able to sustain itself. If the company is funded by venture capitalist, you will be able to know who the investors are. A background check on websites like Glassdoor and Payscale will also help you understand the internal issues faced by employees as well as the maximum pay that you can expect over a period of time.

Do I fit in?  There are a lot of startups which have been cloned from the Western business models. Play, parties, perks and promotions to sum it all. New age startups prefer to hire young people who may or may not have experience. While millennials have their own style of working, would you be able to catch up or would it lead to a clash is something you need to ask.
People v/s profits? Getting to know who the founders are and what their visions are helps as many a time companies close down because the founders parted ways with different opinions. While some founders value the man behind the machine others treat the man like a machine! Startups have a close knit team and long working hours too. While profits are important to breakeven for a startup, people are equally important to make as well as sustain profits. So working with a startup and finishing heaps of work but having the flexibility to do it in your comfort zone on a bean bag or at home surely helps.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Just as an organization’s vision is important to fulfill organizational goals, your vision on where you see yourself in the future is important to fulfill your personal goals. So ask yourself if working with a startup is going to help you to achieve your financial goals, help you grow in the industry, give you job satisfaction and most importantly give you a “nowhere else found learning experience”.
While the industry is changing rapidly, doing a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) with the aid of these questions will surely help you make the right decision. Yes, mistakes do happen. But at the end, it’s all about being able to join the dots and maybe joining a startup could be one such bold dot in your career graph leading to greater opportunities.