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How Much Do MBAs Make at Startups? Expect Less Pay, but a More Rewarding Career

There are a lot of advantages to working at a startup.  Company culture, unique experiences, and the potential to hit it big with an IPO are all great reasons to work at a startup.

Things to Consider

However, this does not come without negatives. Our data shows MBAs working at startups have an overall decrease in salary of about $15,000 when compared to more established companies, and this deficit increases to $30,000 in comparison to consulting jobs at top firms.

Not only will you on average be paid less, but your expenses will likely increase as well. San Francisco, the startup hub where nearly 1/3rd of all startup bound MBAs go, is one of the most expensive cities in the world. You can use this great cost of living calculator from CNN Money to help evaluate whether it’ll be worth it for you.

Equity is another factor to consider when looking to be hired by a startup. Although you shouldn’t expect to hit the big time like David Choe, equity compensation is common – according to our data, 68% of MBAs offered full time positions at startups were granted equity.

Negotiating Your Salary

Our data shows 40% of startup offers are successfully negotiated.  These negotiations weren’t for pennies either, the average increase from a salary negotiation is $12,000, which is higher than the all-industry average. Although most negotiations happen in later stage startups (series B and beyond) every funding stage shows a high likelihood of successful bargaining.

Read to negotiate your salary? Download our MBA Salary Negotiation Guide.

If you want more info on working at a startup as an MBA, check out our posts on getting hired at a startup, or our MBA/Startup Overview.

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