What are the real CEO, CFO and Developers wages when you just opened a startup and go for Seed A in SFBA?

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Kruze Consulting Startup Q&A Author
Vanessa Kruze
Founder, CPA

I get to see the salaries for over 150 startups in SF, NYC, and LA, and I’ve noticed a few trends when it comes to wages:

Average CEO Salary for an SF Bay Area Seed Stage Company: sorry to disappoint, but at the seed stage CEO’s salaries tend to be nonexistent (Yes, $0) or very meager. At the earliest of stages, the CEO’s top priority is to keep his/her salary as low as possible. Their primary goal is to make that initial investment last as long as possible so that when they reach their Series A round they’ll be able to point to their many achievements and discoveries.

Average Developer Salary for an SF Bay Area Seed Stage Company: these are the most handsomely paid bunch in the startup world. Whether it’s the CTO or the rest of the engineering team, salaries go for $80-125K per year at the seed stage. Keep in mind that salaries are still kept as low as possible, as it’s just as important for the developer team to show their full faith in the future of the company. Once the Series A is raised so are their salaries; developers will then earn $120-220K per year.

Average CFO Salary for an SF Bay Area Seed Stage Company: a seed stage startup does not need a full time CFO, which is why interim CFO firms such as Kruze Consulting exist. In order to ramp for a Series A, a startup will need to put together their historical financials as well as a forecast that plots out how they plan to spend the investment and what milestones they’ll achieve over the next 18-36 months. Because a full time CFO isn’t necessary, it’s better to charge by the hour ($250/hour for financial modeling and $325/hour for CFO).

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