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davolokhΒ inΒ Β 
Software Engineering ManagerΒ 3 months ago

Starting Consulting Career

I have more than 12 years in Software Development: started as junior software engineer in big outsourcing company and currently working as a director of engineering in a very successful startup.

During my career I've seen a lot, I've been involved in many different projects and I've built several great things. I.e. I joined my previous company right before Series A where there were less than 30people, hired the team, built a core part of the system and left after 3years when I was sure things gonna be good (nowhere days the company has 1B+ valuation). In my current company I've started at Seed Round where there were less than 20people and now we're 1.7B+ company.

I've been doing engineering, hiring, working with sales / customer support / customer success, talking to investors and almost all the others aspects of startups lifecycles. I practically know how to built a company and what to do (and not to do) on every stage. And looks like I'm ready to start consulting chapter in my life.

The question is next: how should I start it? Where to find first clients?

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DonnaCpInvestorΒ 3 months ago
Congrats on your success thus far. I'm an investor and started my consulting career about 15 years ago. Here's some things I did to get me started and what I am seeing today in the ecosystem for experienced professionals like you who want to get in the game: 1) When you want to consult, your biggest advantage will be the quality of your network. I would start with building your brand. If you have any notable figures in your network- CEO's, board members, executives, etc let them know you are looking for clients. It might help to update your Linkedin, build a profile on angellist, and build a quick website that highlights your work experience. Don't underestimate the power of a recommendation. 2) I would be ver clear about what your expertise is. From the description above, you seem to be a generalist with a technology background. What kind of projects are you looking for exactly? Are you trying to work with pre-seed founders? Are you open to being a fractional CTO? Are you more interested in working with managers/directors at a Series A or are you looking to work with executives at a series D? You should be able to answer this succinctly when a contact asks so they can quickly forward the email to their contact. 3) Get some headshots done. You have to look the part. Shallow perhaps, but executive presence is the thing that will make or break an opportunity. People will make assumptions about you before you even open your mouth. So look the part and blow them away once they decide to give you a chance to prove yourself. 4) Coffee, lunch, dinners. Take as many as you can and craft your pitch. You never know how a conversation will play out a week, 6 months, a year or even more. I've had coffee with some folks and that relationship go cold for 2 years and then I'd get an email for an invite to a "mentor meetup" run by a fund. It's all about making a strong impression. 5) Be patient and take any opportunity you can to be seen as a thought leader. Blog, speak, and show up to events and network.
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