Startup Guide to Hiring a Founder’s Associate

6 Minute Read

Jumpstart's guide to hiring a founder's associate. Covering the role of a founder's associate in a startup and tips for finding high-quality candidates, fast.

What actually is a Founder’s Associate?

A founder’s associate is primarily there to give the founder leverage to focus on more impactful projects (product, fundraising, strategy etc.).

The role should not be purely admin-focused, consisting of personal assistant-type activities, nor should it be a change management role. Instead, a founder’s associate sits somewhere in the middle.

What type of work does a founder’s associate do?

A founder’s associate is a generalist role that requires someone to be a jack of all trades. 

Founder associates’ projects might cover operations, marketing, sales, analysis, helping with hiring, finding a new company office, helping with fundraising… and many of the 1000 things that founders have on their to-do lists where it requires smart problem solving and wider business context. The best founder associates will be given a problem and solve it in both the short term and the long term – perhaps by solving the issue at the source and/or automating the process.

At Jumpstart, we’ve hired four founder’s associates into the team over the last couple of years, all with a different focus. Some hires have had a heavier focus on ops whilst others have been more focused on sales and strategy responsibilities. Sample projects include taking startup sales calls, automating the interview process, launching our sales stream, and re-designing our matchmaking process.

The value of a founder’s associate comes from their ability to context-switch and deliver a wide range of projects to a high standard, particularly when a startup might not have full departments built out yet. 

Keen to meet the top 1% of founder’s associate candidates? Register your interest.

What makes a good founder’s associate?

Ultimately, the exact qualities and skills that make a good founder’s associate depend on the needs of the startup. However, from the 300+ people we’ve placed in founder’s associate roles, we’ve developed a picture of the types of qualities and experiences that help people succeed. 

Important attributes include: 

  • Flexibility (probably quite unsurprising!)
  • An ability to quickly assimilate information and connect the dots 
  • Proactive approach to work with a willingness to gain autonomy
  • Hunger to succeed coupled with a ‘roll your sleeves up’ mentality

Previous experience can also be invaluable in allowing a founder’s associate to hit the ground running. Ideal backgrounds vary but consulting is often popular for the professional maturity that helps hires settle in fast. Make sure you don’t hire a blue-sky thinker, mind.

Startup Spotlight:

Founder's Associate at Wondercraft.

A 10x Founders Associate

Find the right founder’s associate for your startup and the impact can be huge.

Mingqi recently joined Wondercraft (YC S22 the ‘Canva for Audio’) from Jumpstart’s generalist stream. During the Jumpstart interview process, Mingqi stood out for her energy, proactivity, and general passion for startups. These attributes have contributed to Mingqi being described as a ‘10x employee’ by Wondercraft’s co-founders Youssef and Dimitris just 6 months into her role. 

Career paths for a founder’s associate

The lack of specialism in a founder’s associate role can make progression seem murky and difficult to support. The reality is that there are a bunch of different career paths a founder’s associate can take (we’ve even seen a founder’s associate become a backend engineer).

However, the two most common role progressions involve specialising in a business area (often ops or product) or gaining more seniority in a generalist position (commonly to Chief of Staff). 

Startup Spotlight

Founder’s Associate to Product Manager at Raft

Jake, joined Raft AI as founder’s associate back in September 2021 from the Jumpstart generalist programme. Since, Jake has found his specialty in product and has been promoted to Associate Product Manager. He’s taken on near full management responsibilities for one of Raft’s customers, and now product manages two teams.

Founder's Associate at Raft.
Founder's Associate at Zero Gravity

Founder’s Associate to Chief of Staff at Zero Gravity

Charlotte Rowell joined Zero Gravity as a founder’s associate in April 2022 from Jumpstart and was promoted to Chief of Staff in January 2024. During her time at Zero Gravity, Charlotte has worked on everything from business strategy to organising fundraising dinners. Charlotte describes this range of responsibilities as the best part of her role. As Charlotte says, “Not having a specialty is a specialty in itself”.

When to hire a founder’s associate?

We asked 200 startup founders when the best time to hire a founder’s associate is and 52% of them answered at the seed stage. 

When is the right time for a startup to hire a founder's associate?

More generally, if you’re finding yourself drowning in tasks and unable to dedicate time to pivotal tasks, it’s usually time to make the founder’s associate hire. The hire should allow the founder to work on pivotal projects, not have these critical projects passed onto them. 

Salary ranges for a founder’s associate

Salaries vary for founder’s associates based on the experience level you’re looking for (high-potential grad vs. a candidate with a couple years of corporate or startup experience) but the average salary range is £35-50k.

It’s common for salary packages to include a form of equity or options too.

How to hire a founder’s associate

1) Identify key tasks

The first stage of hiring a founder’s associate is to figure out what you want your hire to be working on – this will inform the interview process and how you evaluate interview performance.

For example, if you need a founder’s associate to help with hiring, a fresh graduate isn’t the right candidate for you.

2) Design a case study

Once you’ve figured out the types of tasks, create a case study based on this. Case studies are great for evaluating role suitability and give candidates the opportunity to see if they enjoy the work of the role.

3) Hire via Jumpstart

Finding high-quality candidates is hard. In a recent survey conducted by Indeed, 66% of new businesses said they discount some hiring sites completely due to concerns about a lack of quality candidates.

The lack of resources in a startup heighten these challenges. 

Jumpstart flips the recruitment process on its head to make finding and hiring the top 1% talent simple. How? 

  1. Handpicked candidates – we screen all applications and case study interview top performers. Only 1% of applicants gain a place on the programme. Get a sneak preview of some of our candidates here. 
  2. Meet candidates in 15 mins – pitch your company and role(s) over Zoom to meet our candidates within 15 minutes. Send personalised nudges to the candidates that stand out to you.
  3. Hire within weeks (or even days!) – we streamline the whole process so you can find your perfect hire and make an offer within 2 weeks (or faster, we’ve had offers made within 4 days!). 

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