The Rejection Checklist – 6 Instances When Not To Join A Startup

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The Indian startup ecosystem has been going through a major slowdown. The funding freeze has been on for months now, and many of the blue-eyed poster boys of the startup ecosystem have taken serious hits in terms of both business and valuation. Heads have been rolling from boardrooms while massive layoffs and shutdowns have pushed sentiment into a bleak morass from where there seems to be no immediate possibility of a turnaround.

Although things are not as hunky dory as they looked some 12-18 months ago, they might actually seem worse than they are. Our ecosystem is maturing, losing its vanity, and those who have been building silently over the years are now coming to the fore. There are still a lot of great startups that you could build a career with!

Yet, the very definition of the term ‘startup’, there has to be an element of risk involved. And risk isn’t risk unless there’s a finite chance that things don’t turn out exactly as planned! So rather than glossing over the chances of failure with shiny platitudes a good question to ask is,”How do I make it worth my while to take this risk?” More often than not, the answers to this question come up from two things that are fundamental to success at any startup – growth and culture.

Growth at a startup is stimulated from the stress on being hyper-productive yet efficient (non-wasteful), focussing on the core vision while ‘weeding out’ (cost cutting on) anything that’s deemed unproductive. Combined with an open culture – where everyone has ownership and visibility – this often translates into a self-sustainable enterprise (business model) where funding is used only to grow aggressively and not to survive!

So how do we ‘calculate’ this risk and arrive at a point where we can say “Yes, this is worth my while”?

The answer is simple – by going through a ‘rejection checklist’. At SquadRun, a rejection checklist is nothing but a series of non-negotiable conditions or red flags (depending on how you look at them). If the startup you are evaluating doesn’t measure up to any one of these – RUN!

Here’s our rejection checklist that you could use to power your startup career choices!

Is The Vision Audacious Enough

Challenges that push you to outperform will be the key to growth – both for you as well as the firm

The first item on your checklist – is this a story that you will do anything to be a part of? Imagine what AWS did to the server industry or Uber to the cab marketplace. If the work you’re doing isn’t audacious enough, chances are, your startup won’t end up making much of an impact!


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