During my trip as a Venture Leader in Boston and New York, I’ve tried to collect as much knowledge as possible about the US market. We’ve been to the Boston tech jam, which is basically a big party where tech companies are trying to recruit talented guys (companies which have a booth there are no more startups). One company was distributing flyers about what earn creative people in the US, depending on their location (infographic displayed above). My friend Adelina once published a really popular post about the salaries of developers and designers across the world. This kind of content is often popular, as everybody want to know how much it could earn!
I thought this content could be valuable to people who think that Switzerland is always too expensive to do tech (web, mobile) startups. Sure, this country is expensive, especially when you’re launching your company and need to bootstrap. By the way, there is an over-hype on the benefits of bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is great to prove that you can build things (execution!), but I don’t know many entrepreneurs who love this way of building a company. It’s harder. And bootstrapping can go well for a time, but to accelerate, it’s often not the right way. Swiss tech entrepreneurs are almost forced to use this way (but that could be the topic of another post!).
If you look at the infographic, you see that major US tech hubs (San Francisco, New York) have salary ranges which are really close to the Swiss ones. In my humble opinion, you can’t blame the high salaries in Switzerland for not being able to scale. What is missing is the quantity of talented people with the right skills. That’s for instance the reason why Arnaud moved Housetrip to London back in 2010. To scale, you need plenty of talents, quickly. And once you have VC funding, you have to pay market salaries (in addition to stocks) to attract the very best ones.
Quantity of talents is something, but the biggest paradox of Switzerland startup scene is probably that there isn’t enough money in Switzerland. Not enough money flows to startups and young innovative businesses. But that’s again a topic for another post!
My biggest learning in this infographic is that UX Designers are the best paid creative people (just after the information architects). And it’s completely right. What makes the difference is often not the technology. It’s the usability, the user experience (UX). Strong technology but people don’t understand how to use the product? Fail. Many people think it’s easy, or it’s quick to realize. It’s wrong. A really good UX Designer is extremely rare. And it’s a relatively new job (web or graphic design is not similar to UX design).
In my own startup, I have the chance to work with a very talented UX designer, my co-founder Sébastien. He has a deep sense of quality and details. 20/80 rule is not enough with UX design. It has to be 100% perfect and well-thought (or let say, 99%!). You can’t spare on quality. You can’t spare on the UX. And furthermore, in my own startup, we do Swiss quality!
One asked me sometimes ago if I was struggling to hire developers in Switzerland. No. I’ve found the talented guys I needed. And had even a few talented people who I would have loved to hire (I’ll come back to them once we’ll be scaling!). The “key“ is to always be in hiring mode and know where to find your future employees. But UX designers are extremely rare and not easy to find. Think about this skills if you plan to launch a web/mobile startup!