There are currently over 1,300 open jobs across the Initialized portfolio. However, job seekers are often not aware of these opportunities. Introducing the Initialized Talent Den — your portal for startup ready talent. The Talent Den is a new platform to help our portfolio companies source and connect to job seekers, advisors, and contractors looking to work in early stage companies.

Prior to running Initialized, I focused on working at startups because I enjoyed the fast-paced and broad nature of what I got to work on — a little bit of everything!

I could help develop the first product rather than iterate on an established product. I came in contact with a lot of VC talent networks during this time. They usually did a fine job of referring me to startups, but there were no unified processes across startups. Frankly a lot of these recruiters were also spread thin and could not cover the volume of candidates wanting to work at startups. 

Our new Talent Den offers a solution to this often experienced “black hole syndrome.” With our talent platform, you’re not just another application; you’re a top talent being matched with startups that need your skills and share your vision.

When Tiffany Foo, our Head of Talent, suggested that Initialized launch a talent network, my first question was: how can we not only curate an amazing and diverse talent pool for early stage startups, but also have candidates and companies have a high-quality seamless experience? 

The median job tenure for startup employees is just two years, according to Carta. It was important to me that we create a curated experience so the candidates we place today will come back when they are looking for their next role.

Part of that curated experience is ensuring there’s a human element through personal touchpoints by our talent team so that candidates feel informed throughout the process.

“It’s not just about funneling a flood of applicants to startups,” said Tiffany.  “A meaningful candidate journey is crucial to the success of our Talent Den because we want repeat candidates,” she said.

How It Works

With the new Talent Den, we can leverage the strength of the Initialized network to attract talent to the portfolio and expand the talent pipeline. There are currently over 1,300 open jobs across the Initialized portfolio. However, job seekers are often not aware of these opportunities. 

We’ve created one place where profiles are easily accessible. Startup focused talent can signal interest by filtering sector preferences as well as company size, and hiring companies can browse candidates by filtering functionality by expertise and skill level.

“Hiring for a seed-stage company is often the first big challenge our founders face post-funding,” said Tiffany. “Unlike well-known series B companies, early-stage startups don’t have the luxury of a vast network to tap into for hiring.”

Defining Startup Readiness

Startup readiness goes beyond technical skills. It’s about a proactive mindset, the willingness to experiment, and the capacity to handle risk. Candidates who are versatile, eager to learn, and can navigate the unpredictable waters of startup life are the ones we aim to attract through the Talent Den.

“Startup readiness isn’t just about skill set; it’s about the willingness to embrace the fluid and often unpredictable nature of startups,” says Tiffany. “A significant part of my role is educating candidates about what working at a startup really means and sometimes, dissuading them if it’s not the right fit. It’s about honest and transparent communication from the get-go.”

For instance, if you’re a seasoned professional accustomed to extensive resources, the shift to a lean startup may be a dramatic change. A VP level product manager from Google or any of the FAANG companies might not be the ideal candidate for an early stage startup. Startups need self-starters—people who can move the ball forward independently across multiple functions.

Compensation Expectations

Early stage startup candidates should understand upfront that they are taking some risk on their comp and equity, and should not expect the same package as a salaried employee at a big established tech company. At a startup, your work directly contributes to the company’s trajectory. That’s why alignment with the company’s mission and vision is so critical. You might find that joining a startup means recalibrating your expectations around compensation, but the trade-off comes with equity and the chance to be part of something transformative.

The key to finding the right balance is to break it down percentage wise. 

Here’s what Tiffany recommends:

  • 30% technical capacity/skillset 
  • 30% startup readiness indicators
  • 20% mission alignment 
  • 10% sense of belonging and impact

Ultimately, it’s about ensuring that startups connect with candidates who are not only qualified, but also align with the startup’s culture and mission.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the Talent Den, as with all of our hiring efforts at Initialized, including our open search process, and commitment to pay transparency.

Diverse candidates are in high demand, and for a good reason. They bring different perspectives that are crucial for innovation. We aim to provide an exceptional candidate experience, which is key to attracting the best talent who also value diversity.

Our plan for the Talent Den is to expand our existing partnerships with underrepresented tech talent communities and organizations from historically minoritized backgrounds. Stay tuned for more information on virtual and in-person events we will host in 2024 dedicated to supporting DE&I efforts around talent and recruitment.

How to Join The Talent Den

If you are a job seeker, freelancer, or advisor who wants to work with early stage startups, you can apply to join our Talent Den here.

If you’re an existing Initialized portfolio company, you should have received an invitation to join Talent Den already. If you have urgency regarding hiring, please reach out to so we can prioritize your onboarding process.