Australia's late-stage startups are paying top dollar for experienced engineers and senior finance staff, however women are woefully under-represented and are way behind their male peers in fund raising, a survey released this week claims.

Compiled by talent and growth firm Think & Grow with Amazon Web Services, the Australian Startup Salary Guide 2019/2020 looked at 1,000 renumeration packages provided by 63 Australian venture capital firms.

Among startups that had raised more than $10m, the best paid roles were CEOs, CTOs and CFOs with mean salaries of $227,551, $202,000 and $207,000 respectively.

The incomes of startup founders themselves range with funding stages, with the survey finding those who have raised $500,000 or less recieve a mean salary of $76,792, while founders who have raised $50 million or more earn a mean salary of $227,551.

Female participation though remains a sore point, with the survey finding the Australian startup community continues to be overwhelmingly male-dominated and female founders are raising a tiny share of overall investor funding.

Of the startups surveyed, female founders had attracted less than $3 million in funding, compared to male counterparts who had raised in excess of $50 million.

Across the sector, the survey found women comprised just 12.9% of founder CTOs and zero CFO roles. Conversely, they held 75% of senior marketing postions, half the senior HR positions and 55% of customer service management roles.

One notable technical execption was data scienists where women made up 66% of the positions surveyed.

The study also found women account for a majority of low-level roles but were are underrepresented in executive positions. Of the startups surveyed who had raised between $10-50M, women were absent in roles including CFO, CTO/VP Engineering, VP/Head of Sales or Head of Operations.

Women are more likely to hold lower-level roles, comprising 66% of accountancy roles, 55% of customer service roles and 77% of office manager roles.

Conversely, they held 75% of senior marketing roles, around half of senior HR roles (50%) and 66% of data scientist roles.

The survey also found Australian startups are reluctant to hire entry level staff, particularly young engineers despite 40% of the sector’s hires being in Engineering.

Globally, Australian packages are competitive outside of North America according to the survey with a local business development manager at a larger startup earning a median of $125,000 per year. Compared to £42,000 ($AU80,850) in London and $CA68,000 ($AU74,730) in Toronto. However, the same role in Denver earns $US120,000 ($AU183,000) and $155,000 ($AU236,421) in San Francisco.

Jonathan Jeffries, Director and Partner of Think and Grow, said that despite the COVID-19 downturn, the technology industry is still producing career opportunities for Australians and will be essential for the economy as it recovers from the current shock.

“In the wake of the current environment due to COVID-19, we hope this report will highlight the opportunities that exist in future industries, including technology careers,” Jeffries stated. “New data from LinkedIn shows that despite the hiring rate across the economy falling to -2.8 per cent, software and IT is up 17.3 per cent, meaning growth in the sector is strong.

"Even with COVID-19 layoffs, we aren’t seeing current salaries reduce from the salary data reflected in the report. Talent in tech is still a premium, despite economic decline across other industries. Tech jobs are still growing and skillsets are in high demand. The recruitment work we still have globally shows the same salary levels as was 6 months ago.

"Instead of salary cuts, current employees (be it executives, key staff) are working reduced hours. While we're seeing some temporary pay cuts, we've not seen a shift as yet in salary.

“The report should demonstrate to the Government the importance of looking after the tech sector in these difficult times. The tech sector is a driver for the future of Australia’s economy and it’s essential we support this industry for generations to come.”

Top five salaries in Australian startups

*figures represent mean salary in businesses that have raised between $10 million to $50 million

Founder, CEO


VP/Head of Operations


Chief Financial Officer


Chief Technology Officer


VP/Head of Product