11/04/2013 01:55 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

Why Work at a Tech Startup? Luring Vancouver's Tech Talent to the <i>real</i> Opportunities.


In the last 12 months Vancouver has attracted some of the biggest players in technology. Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft are all staking claim on Canadian soil and validating the city's image as Silicon Valley North. While this may be great for the economy, these giants are bringing hefty recruiting and human resources with them and forcing fledgling startups to compete with high salaries in a limited talent pool.

So what's a startup to do? Begin by educating IT professionals on the merits of working at an early stage company.

Startups often have to deal with one or all of three big issues: lack of capital, brand recognition and product penetration. While these are real threats and pose the biggest risk to success, startups often have advantages that cannot be found in large, established companies. Educating talent on these benefits helps them make an informed decision between the bright lights of the behemoth and the siren's call of the startup.

So, what exactly are these benefits?

1) A Chance to Make a Difference

In a startup environment everyone is a contributor. From the recent grad to the seasoned veteran, everyone's contribution is felt and plays an important role in the company's continued success. New ideas are encouraged, considered, and actually have a chance of seeing the light of day. Redundancy and bureaucracy are almost non-existent as there is neither room for waste nor the need for red tape.

2) Variety In Your Work Day

When starting a company there is a LOT of work to do. Those who find themselves in an early-stage company will often get the chance to try their hand at multiple verticals outside of their core competencies. This gives people the opportunity to challenge themselves and engage in areas of business where they wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity.

3) Engaging Work Environment

FREEDOM! Ok, well not quite, but definitely a more-relaxed environment (and by relaxed, I mean less structured). You will likely find that the hours are less ridged, the office attire less stuffy, and the level of camaraderie significantly higher.

4) Climb the Ladder More Quickly

Due to smaller team sizes, the level of responsibility increases and you are often plunged into taking on tasks outside your title's norm. Startups often grow quickly and 'promotion from within' is typical for early employees. This means that a recent computer science grad will likely be a code contributor sooner than one who gets hired on at a more-established company. The first sales guy will likely manage the new hires and be quicker to get a title bump. This all looks great on a resume and can put you years ahead of others in your field.

5) The Big Win

Risk and reward often go hand-in-hand. While the vast majority of new businesses fail, some go on to success and a handful to GREAT success. Being an early employee in a successful venture can often set you up financially for life. Equity is the big lure for those joining a startup and balances the risks when looking long term.

So, how do you find the right startup for you? One way is to check out events happening around town like 'Startups Unite', an Exhibit and Job Fair that will bring together tech talent, looking for a taste of the startup life, within some of Vancouver's hottest startups. The event is happening November 12 at Brooklyn Gastown and will showcase over 20 startups with up to 100 jobs up for grabs. For more information check out