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As far as I know most startups don't advertise positions and usually don't want to use recruitment agents due to the fees involved. What's the best way for a programmer to get involved with a startup?

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closed as off-topic by MichaelT, BЈовић, Jimmy Hoffa, Dan Pichelman, Bart van Ingen Schenau Aug 2 '13 at 14:39

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Start one yourself (or with a couple of friends). –  ChrisF Sep 14 '10 at 12:35
There's a site for that. Startuply –  Brian R. Bondy Sep 14 '10 at 13:13
There is a great site that helps designers and developers get together on startup projects. BuiltwithMe –  Wil Sep 14 '10 at 13:25
@ChrisF - +1 Great suggestion –  Walter Sep 14 '10 at 13:41
This question appears to be off-topic because belongs on answers.onstartups.com –  Dan Pichelman Aug 2 '13 at 14:22

7 Answers 7

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Typically you need to make yourself known in your community. Go to user groups, attend conferences, and network socially to make more contacts. I've talked with several start ups around my area because of the contacts I've made through my local user groups. Most of the time it's been from an independent consultant who was busy on their current project, but knew my knowledge might fit their need.

So basically don't be a stereotypical programmer by having a better relationship with computers than with people.

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Finding a good startup is going to be all about good timing, who you know and a bit of luck. I joined a startup a number of years ago that was started by someone I know first hand. We brought other people in through our network of friends, family and professional contacts. It's really going to be all about knowing the right person at the right time and place.

Just a bit of advice... Joining a startup can be fairly risky if it is your sole means of income. Most startups are always hard pressed for cash and can take years to be in a good financial posistion. Part of what we did was to work at our primary jobs during the day and work on the startup at night and weekends. We were also fortunate to have all the people we ask to join agree to work without pay for a year in return for a percentage of the company. It really allowed us to grow "the right way" with minimal financial worry.

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Based on past experience I would say that startups need to and will keep a close eye on their cashflow until business picks up; I would imagine that they will only invest in more skilled programmers if the core business depended more heavily around it, otherwise most startups will look for programmers via a 'friend's recommendation' and/or fresh graduates that should keep the costs as low as possible...

Just my 2 cents :P

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Well, you could always do the unthinkable and Google some, then ask if they need any help.

Other than that, some of the best hot-beds for startup companies is local universities. Many startup companies in Bristol love to scout out cheap work from recent interns and graduates. The two universities in Bristol even host many startups that have originated from academic research or undergraduate projects. If you have attended university get in touch with your faculty, state that you once studied there and ask if they know of any startups that have originated from the university.

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I saw a considerable amount of startup-related recruitment in the web board of our university. I suppose that communities that gather around universities play a significant role in forming startups.

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You probably don't want to work for one who is not able to at least buy access to a resume database site (like dice.com) or some other site (or use a recruiter), unless you are looking to work for equity they need to have some cash flow to be able to pay a decent wage, etc

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Use Craiglist to find developer jobs, and there you see a lot of startups posting their jobs. And among those startup jobs, most of them are ready to make you partners if you have good knowledge of the subject.

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sure, plenty of the "deferred payment" time of BS'ers on craigslist, what a load of crap, stay away from craigslist –  programmx10 Jul 2 '11 at 3:06
this answer is good but needs to mention some warnings. Yes, you will get lots of scammers/dreamers/losers but you will get experience with startup founders and the startup mentality (this is the next facebook!). If you want to work for small companies you have to get good at determining which employers will make it and which ones will burn you. –  james Oct 11 '11 at 15:53

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