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Find Out What Is The Average Net Salary of CEE Founders

founder salary

Founders in Central Eastern Europe reward themselves with an average net salary of $90.1K according to the latest survey that The Recursive ran across its network of regional entrepreneurs. 

Even though the number is nowhere near close to the $150K average founder salary in the US, one has to keep in mind the comparatively lower valuations of regional startups. 

Our anonymous survey uncovered that the valuation/salary ratio of founders whose startups are valued below $5M are lower than those of startups valued $5M – $50M, $50M – $100M, and above $100M. This means that founders of younger startups pay themselves more in terms of the value of their businesses, compared to founders who manage more mature businesses.

Please note the insights are driven from a sample that may not be the most full and accurate representation of the regional ecosystem. If you wish to support us in improving the quality of this research, please fill in the survey. The research will be updated when more data is collected. 

Different industries, different salaries 

Software and HealthTech are the industries with the highest average net salaries, while the lowest paychecks are in the Mobility and Sustainability sectors. Founders of software startups receive on average $142K annually, while those of HealthTech startups around $119K. Founders in the e-commerce space also receive bigger than the average of this research salary – $94K. Slightly below the average founder salary, receive entrepreneurs in the marketing industry ($70K) and proptech industry ($60K). The lowest salary rates, according to the survey, receive founders of mobility startups – around $18K, and sustainability startups – $15K.

founder salaries
Founder Salaries

Female founders pay themselves a lot less

Out of all respondents in the survey, 13% were female founders and 87% were male founders. Compared to the average net salary of $90K, female founders earn much smaller salaries – an average of $32K. 

Founder Salaries

External cash means a bigger founder salary 

After all, it comes down to the choice of – having full ownership over businesses or having more cash at your disposal. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that bootstrapped founders are more careful about expenses, including their own salaries. 


Founder Salaries

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.