How much do Aussie tech start-ups pay staff?

How much do Aussie tech start-ups pay staff?

First comprehensive guide on tech start-up salaries

Credit: Dreamstime

The amount of capital that a start-up raises has a major impact on the types of roles hired and the salary packages on offer, according to a new tech start-up salary guide.

Through the Australian Start-up Salary Guide 2018 - conducted by executive search firm Think and Grow, in partnership with StartupAUS - start-ups were evaluated at three different capital raising levels from $0 - $5 million; $5 - $10 million and $10 - $50 million.

Some of the key findings in the survey revealed that founders/co-founders base salary ranged from $35,000 with up to $290,000 recorded as the highest - the lowest base salary for a CEO was at $40,000 with the highest set at $320,000.

Engineering chiefs base salary sat between $60,000 and $275,000 while data scientists are paid about $110,000 and marketing chiefs earned about $260,000.

The guide also distinguished significant differences between B2B and B2C start-ups in the types of roles they particularly hire, and noted that very few B2C companies hired product managers early on, but this shifted as their business matured.

Early stage start-ups were reluctant to hire HR types, and affordability issues were also raised for B2C companies.

The report also drew upon competition from Silicon Valley for the talent war, citing software engineers as the most difficult jobs to fill in the US.

Furthermore the salary guide highlighted that in Australia, top dollar was paid for more bespoke technical skills such as natural language processing, social network analysis and optimisation, as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, big data and text mining.

“Given the wide variety of disciplines that fall under the data science umbrella, finding the best data scientist for your organisation can be a real challenge,” the report said.

StartupAus CEO, Alex McCauley, said this report does away with the stereotype that working for a start-up is a risky adventure fuelled by hope.

“Actually, start-ups - particularly funded startups - can provide secure, competitive salaries along with the prospect of owning equity in a high-potential business,” McCauley said.

While Australian start-ups may not be able to emulate the salary packages on offer in more mature ecosystems such as Silicon Valley, there are other ways they can compete, McCauley said.

Having a unique value proposition and corporate culture were cited as a couple of ways that start-ups could effectively compete in the search for talent.

“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," he said.

"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."

The survey, also indicated that early stage start-ups retained very few product management resources, as this function was mainly carried out by the ‘founder’ prior to growing the company beyond this stage.

Remuneration packages from more than 2500 individuals were analysed as part of the guide, featuring more than 350 respondents and 47 venture capital-backed companies sharing company-wide compensation data including 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.

Think and Grow partner, Anthony Sochan, said continuing to understand, and breaking down salary benchmarks was key to the sector’s success in Australia.

"We can clearly see how companies undergo restructuring and expansion in terms of management roles as they raise higher amounts of capital,” Sochan said.

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Tags StartupAUSAlex McCauley

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