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Startup Compensation 101

2 Weeks


Cohort-based Course

Retain and attract top talent with the strategies and frameworks to pay fairly and competitively.

Hosted by

Maryann Kongovi

Executive at two unicorns. Hired & managed hundreds at Google. Startup Advisor.

Course overview

Crack the code on how to pay your team.

You'll develop a framework to guide all compensation decisions. You'll walk away with a lightweight process to apply and maintain them, and the scripts to share it all effectively.

This course is for you if...


you're an early-stage startup founder or an HR generalist and you worry about your pay strategy


you're tired of reacting to pay demands. You want the confidence that you have fair and competitive packages


you want a sustainable strategy that's fair to everyone, especially as you pass the #10 employee mark

Key outcomes

Prevent stressful pay conversations

See off-cycle requests and pay confusion disappear once you hit 'publish' on your compensation philosophy. You'll develop your point of view on how pay works for your company. Through hands-on activities, you’ll craft the foundation for all future decisions.

Stay compliant with U.S. state laws on compensation disclosure

We'll review examples of how to comply with local wage laws. Using templates I'll provide you'll build the required compensation bands. We'll also review the data sets (free and paid) you'll need to create your bands and structure your job ladders.

Assess how you're paying everyone with one simple framework

Using a template and step-by-step guidance in class, see how you are paying everyone in your company across the team, and against your market reference points. With this visibility, we will explore the levers to make adjustments based on your philosophy.

Tell, and sell, your pay story

You'll develop a script to tell your pay story - how you pay and why - with templates that will be provided. In small breakout groups, you'll role-play any tough conversations you've been dreading and get peer feedback to refine your message.


        Maryann built a compensation plan to ensure we could hire and retain the talent Code for America needed. She developed a plan that was competitive, transparent and equitable across functional teams. She also supported leadership with the tools and training needed to make sure the plan worked.
ST Mayer

ST Mayer

former Chief Program Officer, Code for America
        Maryann developed the framework and tools to ensure our Talent team could always recommend offers that were competitive and followed Algolia's compensation philosophy. She was integral in building the operations and rewards teams that advised our compensation and benefits strategy. It was a huge asset and helped us to close candidates sooner.
Zaviear Lue

Zaviear Lue

Global Director of Recruitment, Algolia
        Simply put, Maryann is the best recruiter and closer with whom I’ve ever worked. She’s deeply familiar with the market dynamics for a myriad of roles and understands how to structure offers across every department of an organization. Maryann could teach any organization how to tell their story, attract top candidates, and then close them.
Mike Devine

Mike Devine

former Senior Recruiter, Pave
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Startup Compensation 101

Meet your instructor

Maryann Kongovi

Maryann Kongovi

Startup Advisor & Operator

I have felt the pain and challenge of setting compensation many times over. First, hiring and managing hundreds of people at an internal start-up within Google, and then as an executive running compensation processes. Now, as an advisor working with founders, I see the same challenges.

I firmly believe that every (good) leader wants to pay their team fairly, but very few have the tools or guidance they need.

I'm incredibly motivated by the opportunity to help great leaders pay everyone on their team what they deserve. Just as important, if done right, compensation goes a long way to retaining the lifeblood of any successful startup - its people.

Leaning on what I learned at Google, what I've picked up from a patchwork of consultants, and my analytical training from BCG and Columbia Business School, I built my first compensation process for Code for America.

I have since taken that approach and advised dozens of startups, as well as designed or co-created processes at companies like Algolia, and Pave, owner of Option Impact.

Now, with this workshop "Startup Compensation 101" I look forward to sharing this framework so you can approach every compensation conversation with confidence.

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Startup Compensation 101

Course schedule

3-5 hours per week
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 16th to 25th, 2023

    11:00 am - 12:30 pm PT

    We'll cover the core content in the first 45 mins to 1 hour. Stay for the full 90 mins for Q&A and additional discussion.

    • Live session with Maryann
    • Breakout groups to discuss workshop topics
    • Q&A and group discussion
  • Weekly projects

    1-2 hours per week

    • Each session will have light pre-reads.
    • You can complete most assignments in the breakouts, or receive guidance between sessions to finish up in your own time.
    • By the end of the course, you'll have the strategies and frameworks you need to pay fairly and competitively.

Program Curriculum


Create your compensation philosophy: why everyone needs one and how to get one

Publishing a thoughtful and well-written compensation philosophy can pre-empt and prevent stressful pay conversations. In this module, we will review the key elements of a good compensation philosophy and discuss different examples. Using templates you will then create your own. Peer feedback will give you insight into how it might be received.


Staying compliant - compensation bands: how to build and refine

Salary transparency is now required in eight U.S. states and counting. These require compensation bands, which also provide the guard rails for how everyone's pay is set. In this module, we will discuss how to use bands and job ladders to not only be compliant, but also competitive. We'll also discuss the data you'll need and where to find it.


Creating your baseline - how you're paying today

In this module, you will create a pay scorecard so you can assess how you are paying everyone in your company, compared to your philosophy and your compensation bands. You'll leave with a clear picture of how you are paying your team, and the levers to make adjustments as needed.


Tell, and sell, your pay story (how to attract and retain talent)

You will lose talent to lower-paying jobs if they don't understand how they are paid. Using templates you will create your pay story so you never lose talent for the wrong reasons. You will refine your message with peer feedback. You’ll gain the confidence to have every kind of pay conversation, and the know-how to attract and retain talent.

Your investment is 100% risk-free

If you attend all sessions, actively participate, and don’t find value, we’ll refund you in full.
If you attend all sessions, actively participate, and don’t find value, we’ll refund you in full.
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Startup Compensation 101

Build your compensation plan, step by step

Build your compensation plan, step by step

Active learning, not passive watching

This course builds on live workshops and hands-on projects where you'll develop the key elements of a good compensation plan.

Interactive and project-based

You’ll be interacting with other leaders through breakout rooms and project discussions. You'll receive invaluable peer feedback on how your plan is shaping up.

Learn with a cohort of peers

Join a community of like-minded people who want to learn and grow alongside you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get reimbursed by my company?
What happens if I can’t make a live session?
I work full-time, what is the expected time commitment?
What’s the cancellation policy?
Will there be a community attached to this course?
How long will I have access to the content?
I have more questions, who do I contact?
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