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Several months ago, I left my job in tech to found a biotech startup with a few really great people. We spent several months working on it, we learned a lot, and finally we realized that now isn't the right time to build this thing. We all parted ways amicably, and I've got a feeling based on how we left it that in a few years at least one of us will come back to this thing and pick up where we left off, and that's if no one keeps working on it now.

Now I'm back in the job search, looking for a software engineering position, and I need to update my LinkedIn. I'd like to mention the startup (honesty beats trying to explain a several-month gap), though we agreed to keep it in stealth to keep the product viable so I can't reveal much about it, and I'd like to know:

  1. What title should I use?
  2. How should I describe my work with the company?
  3. What should the company page say, given a company page will need to be created?

I worked mostly on software for lab automation and data analysis, with a thorough dabbling of biotech interspersed throughout. I've written business plans and pitch decks, analyzed the market and competition, analyzed costs from lab equipment down to coffee and written projections and cash flow models, and interacted with lawyers more than my doctor says is healthy.

I'd like to put a solid description of what I worked on, but I can't be too specific, and there are areas of what I worked on that I can't mention at all. How do I go about crafting this thing, specifically with regards to the above three points?

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    You answered your question already: "I'd like to put a solid description of what I worked on, but I can't be too specific, and there are areas of what I worked on that I can't mention at all" No one can answer those three points better than yourself, especially considering the confidentiality..
    – iLuvLogix
    Nov 10 '20 at 11:27
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    Does this answer your question? What projects can I write in my resume if all my company projects are confidential?
    – gnat
    Nov 10 '20 at 11:29
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    @gnat I wouldn't say it's about particular projects, I've got a few of those we specifically agreed to make public. It's about that description box where you put a broad summary of what kind of work you do. Generally, listing off a series of projects you worked on without broader context is frowned upon, as it doesn't paint a very clear picture of what you do
    – Tal
    Nov 10 '20 at 11:42
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    Isn't your penultimate paragraph already an excellent description of the work you did? Nov 10 '20 at 12:23
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    This is completely commonplace and it's surprising you would ask. "Stealth Biomed", describe your work, and the company page would say "Stealth Biomed" - like the other 17 million "Stealth Biomed" listings on web sites. Perhaps I don't understand the question?
    – Fattie
    Nov 10 '20 at 18:51
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Treat it like working on some kind of classified research. Explain your duties, skip over the details or purpose of it, and if anyone asks tell them you're on an NDA and can't discuss the specifics of what you did.

It shouldn't be that weird that you're not allowed to talk about some secret project you worked on. Just because you're on an NDA to yourself (and it's probably not on paper) doesn't mean it should be handled in a different way.

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The things you learned are more important than where you learned it. So I would definitely put in there that you have been working and what skill you have develop. Linked-in does not force you to add an existing company to your work experience, so I would not add one.
So something along these lines seem right to me:

company: A bio-tech startup
Title: Software engineer
My work: software for lab automation and data analysis, with a thorough dabbling of biotech interspersed throughout.

I chose software engineer as title, as it sounds like you did a lot of software building and its the job you are looking for now.

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I think you should just gloss this over as a break.

Entrepreneurs are sometimes discriminated against for many good business reasons.

I've got a feeling based on how we left it that in a few years at least one of us will come back to this thing and pick up where we left off, and that's if no one keeps working on it now.

This is one of the main reasons why. You can never tell if they'll just quit and chase another idea, or if they're half committed to something else. All else being equal I'd put the application at the bottom of the pile.

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  • Why did the answerer get all these downvotes on this one?
    – Tal
    Nov 10 '20 at 19:40
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    @Tal I did not downvote, but I do think this a bad answer. It says you should call it a brake, but you did not take a break. Nov 13 '20 at 13:49

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