How to Make $1,000,000+ Joining a Start-Up

Like in most things, the odds are against you.  But the game you play, and your skill playing it, dramatically influences the odds.

The “easiest” way to make $1m+ is to join the best pre-unicorn start-up you can at the moment in time when you can get the most risk-adjusted equity.

The thing is, at a very senior level … you basically get a similar amount of equity (at least dollar-weighted) no matter when you join.  So the later you join, the less risk you take.  

If you are a very seasoned executive, the best risk-adjusted time to join then is often just before an IPO, or just before a big Unicorn round. Get a ton of stock as SVP of XYZ at a “startup” worth $1b+ that is killing it is one “simple” way to book $1m+ on paper at least.

Assuming you aren’t That Guy, if you can reproduce that at an earlier stage, it’s the “easiest” way to potentially make $1m.

Join as a VP right after the latest venture round where you can still come in as a VP. If you can’t do that, join as a Director at the latest venture round you can. If you can’t do that, join as one of the first 10 or 20 employees, and one of the Most Important 5 or 6, at the best start-up you can.

Odds are still against you in all but the first scenario, but you can start to see the Math to A Million in any of these scenarios.

Most other scenarios, the odds of you making $1m unless the company ends up being worth $10b-$20b+ are relatively low. There just isn’t enough to go around, odd as that may sound, once there are 1000+ employees and 5+ venture rounds.

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