How to pitch myself to a startup?
December 16, 2011 1:47 PM Subscribe
I am a marketing professional - middle management in an enormous media conglomerate. I would like to shift my work environment and infrastructure completely and work for a startup that is currently staffed only with technical experts, programmers, scientists and a small sales force. How do I pitch myself to be part of a company that doesn't have any people who do what I do yet?
I have only ever worked in mature media organizations with all functioning departments - operations, finance, product, marketing, sales, etc. So mainly my questions are related to how a startup goes about creating and hiring a group from scratch and how I could fit into that. I'm willing to learn a ton, and take on responsibilities big and small as startups need. I know that in startup culture there's a certain amount of faking it until you make it - and being bold enough to assume responsibility for something you don't know that much about yet but are kind of forced to gain expertise as you go by necessity. I'm just not sure how to sell myself, as someone who has only been in the middle of things, to an organization that isn't structured like that.
My concerns are that:
- At this stage, these specific startups (in a tightly focused sector, and under 30 people, generally) are not yet allocating any significant resources to developing their marketing presence (from what I've surmised after clicking on every single employee's bios on LinkedIn). The companies are actively hiring and looking for talent - very open-ended "send us your resume/ we are always looking for superstars" on their website - but the focus for now seems to be on gathering the best technical experts, programmer and scientists. Are there stages to how a startup hires marketers and what is the best way to find out when they are ready to start putting manpower here?
- I am neither confident nor objectively qualified enough to be the main lead in creating this marketing presence - not trying to downplay myself, but I just made a pretty recent career change, and while I was an exceptionally fast learner in becoming good at what I do and an excellent manager, it's important to me to have someone at the top to learn from. Do startups hire top-down - first a lead and then staff up below? How do I communicate that I am probably not their #1 person to start a group, but an ideal #2? Is this ridiculous? Who even asks to be #2? Am I thinking about this completely wrongheadedly?
Maybe I'm not approaching this quite right - and would appreciate your perspective. I think at the root of this is that I have only ever worked as an employee in which I was asked to be a self-starter but within pretty rigorous corporate parameters and managerial structure. I'd like to get out of that, and out of that mindset, but don't know how to propose that.