New guide outlines tech start-up salaries

Thursday, 04 October, 2018

New guide outlines tech start-up salaries

A new guide has been released that gives an overview of salary packages offered by start-up tech firms.

The Australian Startup Salary Guide 2018 is the first comprehensive tech start-up salary guide in Australia, conducted by executive search firm Think & Grow, in partnership with StartupAUS.

Start-up roles and salaries vary widely, depending on the stage the business is at, according to the research into Australian tech start-ups. The amount of capital raised has a major impact on the kinds of roles hired, as well as the packages offered.

In July 2018, remuneration packages of more than 2500 individuals were analysed to compile the guide. The data was provided by more than 350 respondents in an online survey and from 47 venture capital-backed companies that shared company-wide compensation data for their business.

The VCs include Airtree Ventures, Blackbird Ventures, Blacksheep Capital, Carthona Capital, Full Circle, Reinventure, Rampersand and Square Peg Capital. All participants provided data which included base salary, benefits and incentives such as equity as well as the size of their company, funding and job title. Start-ups at three different levels of capital raising were researched: $0–$5 million; $5–$10 million and $10–$50 million.

Understanding how candidates think about their package is an important first step for start-ups in building strong and lasting relationships with new employees and ensuring they secure the top talent, according to the report.

"We can clearly see how companies undergo restructuring and expansion in terms of management roles as they raise higher amounts of capital. In a sector where many of the jobs are less than a decade old, a continued understanding and breakdown of salary benchmarks is key to the sector's success," said Anthony Sochan, Think & Grow partner.

Key findings from the report include:

Only base salary; excludes equity, company valuation

  • Founder/co-founder: lowest paid was $35,000; highest was $290,000
  • CEO: lowest paid was $40,000; highest was $320,000
  • Engineering chiefs earn between $60,000 and $300,000
  • Data scientists are paid around $110,000
  • Chief People Officer role starts at $120,000
  • Heads of Design earn up to $260,000
  • Chief Product Officers make between $60,000 and $275,000
  • Marketing chiefs are paid up to $260,000

B2B vs B2C

  • There are significant differences between B2B and B2C firms in terms of the kinds of roles being hired.
  • B2B firms are much more likely to be hiring senior engineers than B2C start-ups.
  • Very few B2C firms hire product managers in the early stages, but this changes as they grow and mature.

HR/people and culture

  • There are currently very few people in HR roles in early-stage start-ups in Australia.
  • There is an increase in HR professionals as capital revenue raised increases, likely resulting in more employees and/or more aggressive hiring.

Australia is not yet a primary tech market, compared with the US and some other countries. As a result, Australian tech start-ups face significant challenges when competing for international talent, and will have to think more creatively about ways to attract talent.

"This report does away with the stereotype that working for a start-up is a risky adventure fuelled by hope and instant noodles. Actually, start-ups — particularly funded start-ups — can provide secure, competitive salaries along with the prospect of owning equity in a high-potential business," StartupAus CEO Alex McCauley said.

"Whilst Australian start-ups may not yet be able to emulate the salary packages on offer in a more mature ecosystem such as Silicon Valley, there are other ways they can compete. We have a fresh and energetic community where talent can really stand out and have powerful impact. We are also a fantastic gateway to Asia and have many non-monetary advantages such as great lifestyle, family-friendly cities and considerably more generous vacation time than the US.

"In the medium term, Australia can import talent from overseas; however, longer term we need to grow talent locally, partnering with universities to do this. As a nation we need to take a longer-term view as to how we are creating and mentoring the next generation of tech talent to create a high-performing ecosystem."

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