Embarking on a startup journey? It’s like assembling a spacecraft; every role is mission-critical.

From the mastermind plotting the trajectory to the tech wizards fueling the engines, what are the positions in a startup company defines the success of your odyssey.

Sift through the chaos of launch preparations with this guide. I’ll untangle the web of job titles – from the tenacious grasp of a CEO to the strategic vision of a CTO.

As we delve into the unique ecosystem of a startup, you’ll uncover the blueprint of an efficient, dynamic team ready to shoot for the stars.

By the time we wrap up, you’ll emerge with a sterling roster strategy, ensuring your venture isn’t just a flash in the pan but a blazing comet etching its mark in the industry sky.

Focused on startup roles and responsibilities, we’ll charge through topics like recruitment strategy, leadership roles, and how the alchemy of company culture molds a fledgling business into a formidable powerhouse.

1) The CEO

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO

The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is the head of the company. In the case of startups, which run on vision, they are the ones with the big ideas and the drive the pursue them.

Tech startups, in particular, run on the idea of the “dream”. The CEO is the one that provides this dream and makes sure everyone is on board. They are the visionary leader who can harness the talent of a team while simultaneously inspiring everyone the bring their best work.

This important position does not mean that they are better or more important than the rest, however. It also does not mean that they are paid more, as the actual power they hold is not much more than the rest of the team.

The role of a CEO is usually the public face of the company. They are vital in inspiring investors as much as they do employees. They drum up excitement in the vision, and hopefully, funding from investors at the same time!

In startups, the CEO and President are typically the same people. In traditional companies, the President is a more internal role, dealing with employees and day-to-day management than investors or shareholders. As this role is taken by the same person in startups, they must do both jobs at once.

While the CEO is normally the founder of the startup, this is not always the case. A good founder recognizes when they lack certain skills, so hires from outside the company.

2) The CTO

Nathan Blecharczyk, CTO at Airbnb

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is the person in charge of all technical aspects of the startup.

If the company is a ship, then the CTO can often be thought of as the engine room. They are sometimes known as “innovation architects”. They have all the technical know-how to be able to get the project up and running and make plans for the future. For this reason, they are also often involved in hiring.

The CTO is often the right hand to the CEO, and the two are usually the first employees in a company. They work together to plan for the future and make sure the startup is on the right track.

3) The Product Person

Julie Zhuo, former VP, Product Design at Facebook

The Product Manager is solely focused on the product itself.

They are responsible for fine-tuning exactly who the target market is, and how the product will be positioned to find those people. They act as the bridge between the customer and the product. They develop all the aspects surrounding that idea,, such as product positioning, creating personality behind the company, and the pricing of the product.

People drawn to this position are often great at analyzing statistics and customer traffic. They are often versed in the basics of coding and are skilled at using those technical abilities to connect with an audience.

Other useful skills to have as a product manager are Photoshop, working with engineers, analyzing metrics and stats, and customer development. While none of these are absolutely necessary, they can help.

4) The Salesperson

Chris Gardner, whose story you might have seen in The Pursuit of Happyness

The CSO (Chief Sales Officer) will be responsible for creating and managing leads and converting those leads into sales.

This will be a vital role in your fledgling startup team. It’s important to think hard about what you will need from someone in this role.

Remember: ideally, your sales will start out small and grow steadily. Due to this, it’s important to hire a salesperson that can keep up with this growth. They will need to be able to hustle and get sales no matter what.

This hustle will involve huge amounts of work – especially at the beginning. This means 100 phone calls a day, non-stop emailing, meetings, and more. Interestingly, ex-athletes are often particularly skilled in this role. The hard work and thrill of success is similar to that of training for years and winning big in a sport.

A good CSO will innovate ways to increase sales, such as automation and hiring more staff as your startup grows.

5) The Operations Officer

Operations are all about keeping the team on track. This is particularly important at the beginning of a startup’s life.

This can be a job with a wide range of roles. From keeping employees on track with tasks to optimizing productivity – everything the operations officer does is focused on making the product and dream a reality as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This person will also be responsible for the accounts, finances, and day-to-day goings-on. In a more traditional company, this job would be shared between several employees, such as a CFO, office manager, business analyst, and more. But in a startup, these will often be handled by one person – particularly at the beginning.

6) The Business Development Officer

Sujan Patel, Growth Marketer and Entrepreneur

Business development is often categorized under the job of the salesperson. This can be a mistake.

People in business development should be skilled at networking. They are able to meet with anyone, at any time, and build a relationship with them.

Often known as “growth hackers”, business developers are great at promoting the startup and its product and building a name for it out in the marketplace. They drum up enthusiasm and hype and make sure the company has a life before it’s even launched.

This a not a job that is easy for beginners to enter in to. Having pre-made relationships within the industry is beneficial.

Unfortunately, it is also often a neglected role, being forgotten in favor of others. But a great development officer can mean the difference between failure and success for a startup!

7) Account Management and Customer Service

This person should be a pro at customer communications. They are responsible for dealing with customer questions and issues. If the product is not working properly or fails a customer, it’s the job of this person to help and deal with the customer.

For this reason, it is vital that this person has the qualities necessary to deal with these situations. Qualities such as patience, clear communications, conflict resolution, and a detailed understanding of the product.

These are qualities that should come naturally to the person, as many of these cannot be taught.

FAQ On What Are The Positions In A Startup Company

What are the key roles in a startup company?

Startup DNA is unique. At the nucleus, you’ve got your CEO, guardian of the vision. Next, the CTO makes tech magic real.

The COO keeps the gears turning smoothly. Don’t forget about the CFO, they’re your vault-keeper. Then you’ve got masterminds of code, marketing gurus, and customer whisperers.

Together, they’re a dream team dodging early pitfalls.

How do positions differ in a startup compared to a corporate?

Imagine a Swiss Army knife—that’s a startup job. You’re not just a cog; you’re part of the engine, dynamically shifting.

Job scopes in startups thrive on versatility, unlike corporate gigs that might stick you in a single-function silo. Think more hats, less bureaucracy, and direct impact on outcomes.

What’s the importance of defining roles in a startup?

Clarity. It’s survival gear in the startup wilderness. Defined roles slice through chaos, so everyone’s paddling in sync.

Goodbye confusion, hello efficiency! Plus, it’s about carving out space for each talent to shine, sparking innovation while balancing the tightrope walk between order and the creative storm that startups often are.

What are the typical first hires in a startup?

First up, your technical MVP. They’re like your first officer on deck. Then you snag a product development guru, crafting what users crave.

A sales and marketing maverick to spread the word follows. And naturally, a finance manager to keep the treasure chest locked down. These trailblazers set the pace early on.

Is having a CTO crucial for tech startups?

Short answer, heck yes! Dive into the tech pool without a CTO and you’re swimming against the current.

This role isn’t just about coding—it’s a visionary plotting future tech landscapes, ensuring the startup isn’t building sandcastles just to watch them get washed away when the tide comes in.

What’s the role of a Chief Financial Officer in a startup?

The CFO is your financial fortune teller. They grasp the numbers, spinning predictions that keep you floating above the red sea.

It’s about seeing through the fog – managing cash flow, dodging icebergs of unexpected expenses, and mapping out a gold-laden route towards sustainable growth and potential funding landfalls.

How do sales positions in startups differ from established companies?

Think guerilla warfare versus traditional troops. Startup sales roles mean you’re often crafting the playbook while in the game, using innovative, scrappy tactics to win customers. For established companies?

It’s marching to the rhythm of a tried-and-true battle march, with layers of strategy that’s been combed through by many before you.

Do startups need a dedicated HR position?

Absence makes the team go wander. Without HR, you’re flirting with mayhem.

They’re not just resume scanners; they’re culture cultivators, peacekeepers, and the bridge between management and the rank-and-file.

In a space where every team member is vital, a dedicated HR position ensures each cog is well-oiled and indexed properly.

Can a startup function effectively without a COO?

It’s risky business going without a COO, who’s the helmsman in the stormy startup seas. They steer operations, keeping the daily grind running without hiccups.

You can go without one, but you’re betting on calm seas – and in the startup world? Those are few and far between.

Is it better to have generalists or specialists in a startup?

It’s stages, my friend. Early on, it’s Jack-and-Jill-of-all-trades season, where flexibility is king.

Specialists enter the picture as you scale, transforming your broad strokes into refined mastery.

Start with generalists to build the skeleton, bring in specialists to flesh out the beast as it grows.


Navigating the constellation of roles that form the backbone of any startup can feel like piecing together a complex puzzle. But, now you’ve got the map. Understanding what are the positions in a startup company isn’t just about slotting folks into job titles; it’s crafting a team that breathes synergy.

  • The CEO: driving force and visionary
  • The CTO: tech oracle, future-ready
  • Roles from marketing mavens to product pioneers: all crucial colors on your palette

Thriving in today’s startup ecosystem means valuing versatility over rigidity. Embrace the fluidity of roles, the brilliance of team dynamics, the intricate weave of startup operational structures. These aren’t just cogs in the machine. They’re the very sinews that flex and adapt as your startup evolves.

So, take this knowledge. Build a cadre of key startup personnel—your crusaders of innovation. Forge onwards with an ensemble equipped to conquer the rough seas of entrepreneurship. Your startup is more than a company; it’s an odyssey of spirited minds embarking on a voyage of groundbreaking achievements.

If you liked this article about the positions in a startup company, you should check out the best business YouTube channels, this article on startup culture, and startup quotes

We also wrote about similar topics like the difference between startup vs small business, how it is working at a startup, and startup ideas for students.


I'm the manager behind the Upcut Studio team. I've been involved in content marketing for quite a few years helping startups grow.