You might be planning a move into startups. Or you might be contemplating founding a company yourself. Or maybe you just want to do a little exploration.

First off, congratulations. You’re at the start of a really exciting journey, and one that I would highly recommend. I switched from consulting into startups a few months ago, so I’d know.

Despite the push to decentralize and democratize tech, the industry still remains very much a bubble. If you didn’t go to a few universities, or live in the Bay Area, it takes a fair bit of effort to be ‘in the know’. Even if all the information is out there, it can be hard to know what to read, and who to follow.

This article is a distillation of 6-12 months of reading articles, listening to podcasts, and talking to founders and operators. I’ve gathered the most helpful resources, as well as the most useful advice. Hopefully, so you can get a headstart in your own job search/startup ideation and not have to re-tread some of the ground I covered.

Resources I found useful

Foundational texts

  1. Paul Graham’s essays are a must. I would start with How to Make Wealth, as well as How to Start a Startup, Why To Not Start a Startup, Do Things That Don’t Scale. But really, read as much of it as possible. Most people you’ll speak to in startups have read some of these essays, so the mental models in them (eg., doing things that don’t scale) are often assumed knowledge in startup-land.

  2. Hard thing about hard things (book). It’s better for founders, and a lot of it is about later stage issues (e.g., how to hire a senior exec). Still, it captures a lot of the optimism, chaos, euphoria, despair of startup life pretty well.

  3. Zero to one (book). Confession: I haven’t read this, but it’s recommended a lot. It’s based on a series of lectures Peter Thiel gave at Stanford. Or you can read the (shorter) notes from the class here.

  4. How to start a startup (lecture series). More applicable if you are keen to found, or join as a very early employee in a startup. But still, it’s a goldmine - you are literally put in the shoes of a Stanford student taking a course from founders of Airbnb, Facebook, Paypal, Stripe etc.

    1. Sidebar: Did you know Mark Zuckerberg guest-taught a CS lecture in Harvard in 2005, and only 20 students showed up? It’s worth watching because you can see how deep his thinking was despite being only 21 then.
  5. Software is eating the world. It’s a 10-year-old essay, but still the rallying cry of many technologists today. The arguments seem obvious in retrospect, but it’s especially impressive in its prescience.

Career planning advice

  1. Breakout lists' career planning guide
  2. Marc Andreessen’s guide to careers. Also check out his guide to startups.
  3. Life and career advice for young people in school, university, or just starting out: read Sam Altman’s and Patrick Collison’s posts on this.


Here are a few newsletters I like. I suggest flicking around and focusing on 1 or 2 to start. Otherwise, it may be overwhelming.

These are great because they let you understand the hottest companies, sectors, and be ‘in the know’. Tech moves fast, and the books and articles I referred to above don’t cover the latest happenings.

  1. Not Boring. Bi-weekly deep-dives into really exciting companies and major trends. I particularly liked his piece on Tencent, Excel, the crazy stage of growth we are going through, and on the Great Online Game.
  2. Stratechery. This is the OG tech newsletter, and there are a few foundational articles that everyone should read.
  3. Benedict Evans used to write for a16z, and he always has interesting things to say about the latest trends.
  4. The Generalist. I’m not a regular reader but I appreciated their coverage of FTX, a crypto exchange.


  1. 20VC. Harry Stebbings is a phenomenal interviewer, and I would recommend episodes like the one with Doug Leone, and Chris Sacca.
  2. Masters of Scale. The founder of Linkedin interviews founders of companies like Airbnb, Canva, Twitter.
  3. Acquired. Less interviewing, more story-telling. I enjoyed this episode on the founding of TSMC.
  4. I’m running a podcast (Product-Led Sales) where I interview founders and revenue leaders at product-led SaaS companies.


If you’re not already on it, get on it. That’s it. Start off by following the classics (Paul Graham, Sam Altman, Elad Gil, Marc Andreessen, Packy, Lenny), but I’m sure very quickly you’ll find your niche. Think about building your own audience, or just using it to network and make friends. See this thread.

How do I find a job and how do I negotiate salary or equity?

  1. To find a job: Network. Network. Network. More on that below.
  2. Index Ventures has a great resource for understanding how much salary or equity to expect
  3. Haseeb Qureshi’s series on how he got many many offers and then successfully negotiated a great package
  4. Holloway’s guide to equity compensation. This is dense, but also comprehensive. Would suggest you read when it’s time to actually pore over the fine print of your offer.
  5. Here are some other detailed guides on moving into startups.

If you don’t mind a few thousand dollars to join a cohort-based course to job search properly with like-minded folks

Check out Ondeck’s programs. They have ones for founders, people who want to be early employees, and sector-specific ones for fintech, climate, and more.

Personal learnings

How do I decide what to look for?

Many people, myself included, start off very very broad. We are unsure about many, perhaps all, of the following:

  • What vertical to focus on (e.g., crypto, fintech, biotech, SaaS)
  • What role (for non-technical folks, you could do product, operations, go-to-market, chief of staff)
  • What stage of company (seed all the way to pre-IPO)
  • Even what geography to focus on (I was choosing between the UK, Southeast Asia, and the US)

If you are iterating along all 4 axes, you have to try to close out a few of them. Otherwise your search space is simply too big. Although it is fine to keep 1 or 2 of these criteria fluid.

For example, if you’ve decided you want to work on an early stage climate technology startup in the US, then you might be flexible about what the exact role is. You want to get your foot in the door at a great startup, even if it’s not the exact role you want.

The goal is that within a few weeks or months, you reach clarity on a specific type of company you are looking for.

That way, you can look for the top 3 companies that fit that description, and then try your damndest to get in. With a focused search you’ll prepare better, network more comprehensively, and you can easily compare one offer against another. Ideally, you shouldn’t be applying to companies across stages, across verticals, and across geographies.

That said, I’m not against exploring many spaces. You just need a timeline and plan to progressively eliminate options and narrow your funnel a little. You want to explore, then exploit. This narrowing should be through a mix of personal reflection, lots of reading, and coffee chats.


How do I build my network?

  1. Warm intros. If you have even one friend who’s working in a startup or tech company, lean on them to give you a download of what’s what. Ask them to introduce you to 3 friends, and then ask each of those friends to make further intros etc.

  2. Linkedin is a magical tool. Use the search function and filter ‘People’ by ‘past companies’ or ‘schools’ to find people who worked at the same company or went to the same universities or high schools as yourself. Then try to find the ones who work in the company/vertical you are interested in, and reach out cold for a chat. I guarantee at least 30% will reply, and they will be incredibly helpful.

  3. Personalize your outreach. When reaching out to people, research them extensively and send a very personalized email or message. It’s better to contact 20 people properly than to spam 200.

  4. Go straight to the top. Especially at startups (even companies ~500 people or below), the founders are usually very approachable. It’s part of their job to speak to customers and potential hires, so it’s often a lot easier to have a chat with a founder than to drop a job application on their website. Some of my friends even emailed founders of $10b companies, had a chat, and was pitched a position on the spot. All the while they were still waiting for a recruiter at the same company to get back to them.

  5. Deliver value. Think about how you can help whoever you are cold-emailing. You could source a hire for them, for example. Or you could provide feedback. One of the things I did was to scour their company’s website, note down things that I would improve or even typos I spotted, and include these suggestions in my cold email. Too many people out there are just asking - for time, for an intro, for a job. Delivering value upfront helps you stand out.

  6. If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re struggling, especially if you lack the network, reach out. I’m happy to have a chat.

Sector-specific readings

Climate tech

  1. Airminers. A great and under-rated community if you want to go into carbon removal.
  2. Carbon Removal Academy. A list of resources curated into courses for you to get up to speed on climate tech and carbon removal. (This was made by John Sanchez, who is still an undergrad! We don’t need permission or qualifications to make an outsized impact.)


  1. Introductory readings for crypto in general
  2. Introductory readings for DAOs
  3. Introductory reading for NFTs
  4. Defi primer
  5. Follow Balaji’s twitter.


  1. David Sack’s Bottoms Up substack
  2. For sales tech and product-led growth content, check out HeadsUp’s blog (full disclosure, I wrote most of this stuff)


  1. Fintech today is a rich source of information
  2. Net Interest (newsletter)
  3. Not strictly fintech, but Money Stuff by Matt Levine is too good to miss. It has a lot of traditional finance stuff in it, but he also covers fintech and crypto from time to time. Sign up here.


  1. Heard good things about Health Tech Nerds, although I’m not familiar with it.


  1. Orbital Index

Do you have any feedback or additional resources you found helpful? DM me on Twitter, I’d love to hear your thoughts!