Developer working for a startup that was just acquired? Don’t let these six career-shaping opportunities pass you by

Anna Starasts

October 21, 2014

Working for a startup that gets acquired can bring with it a mixed bag of emotions for many developers. While it can be a moment of validation for what you’ve been crafting for years, it can be scary and overwhelming as your small, autonomous startup transitions into a larger company. But while a common attitude toward startup acquisition and integration is cynicism,  you may actually be glossing over big career opportunities.

A few weeks back at our event Career Insights from Tech Leaders, our panelists Jim Murphy (Founder of Boltmade), Boris Chan (Associated Director at Pivotal Labs) and Brian Parkinson (architecture expert with extensive startup experience) shared the career benefits that they unexpectedly experienced when their startups were acquired by larger tech companies.

Here are six growth opportunities they discovered when the startups where they worked were acquired by larger companies.

1) Endless networking opportunities.

In most organizations, reaching out to your new colleagues to get to know them is a great way to feel more connected to your new community, learn the culture and grow your professional network. Reach out to meet colleagues across the organization — some companies might even encourage you to travel and meet colleagues across the country. Be social – attend company events, participate in lunch ‘n learns, meet product and engineering leads and absorb whatever info you can. And if you’ve been looking for a mentor, you’ve just hit a gold mine.

2) Major opportunities outside of the scope of most startups.

Can you imagine being a 15-person Toronto team, then the next week you have a 40-person team in your India office that wants to work with you remotely? Suddenly you’re collaborating on projects in a whole new way. Always wanted to speak at a leading tech conference? Next thing you know. you’re the Lead Architect for a globally-recognized brand, not a small startup, and you’re fielding invitations.

3) Ample professional development tools.

Many larger tech companies develop their own in-house leadership initiatives, courses or conferences, or else they have the budget to pay for the resources you only dreamed of at your startup.

4) Seeing your product in a new light.

If your startup is acquired by a company with a global customer base, the ability to interact with different markets and international customers using your product gives you the chance to see your product in different lights, used in different contexts and surrounded by different processes. This is a great opportunity to bring a new perspective to your work and expand understanding of your users.

5) Getting ideas for what your next product might look like.

While your startup might have had laser-like focus on a single product, transitioning into a company with multiple products solving different business problems can be a great source of inspiration for your next startup idea. Who knows what your fresh set of eyes and entrepreneurial mind might see?

6. Living through integration can look great on your resume (and to prospective investors).

Demonstrating that you can integrate and add value to a company that has acquired your startup can often seen as a sign of leadership and adaptability. Commit to riding out integration and you will boost your perceived value to your next employer or to an investors that’s looking to help fund your startup.

Did you career experience a boost through startup acquisition? Agree or disagree with our panelists? We’d love to hear your comments.

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