From: Doostang <Doostang@email.doostang.com>
Date: Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 7:10 PM
Subject: We've got start-ups on the brain. Do you?
To: Howard Rhee <email@example.com>
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Yep, today we're thinking and talking about start-ups. The Web 2.0 Expo's going on in San Francisco this week, the Twitter whale's working overtime, and company names are becoming verbs, adverbs and – dare we hope – conjunctions en masse.
Many of you have written in and told us you'd like to join a start-up, and we find it hard to disagree, especially after talking to Azeem.
Azeem was kind enough to offer up his experience doing BizDev for a mobile app analytics start-up, and guess what? He was an investment banker before, for those of you looking to transition out.
The Start-up Life at Pinch Media in New York
What's Pinch Media?
Pinch Media is a smartphone application analytics company, focused on providing app publishers with relevant metrics in gauging usage of their applications. The company was founded on April 1, 2008 (wednesday was our one year anniversary!) by Greg Yardley (CEO) and Jesse Rohland (Lead Developer). I came on board about 6 months ago, as the first business/non-technical hire. We are currently a team of 6 full-time (1 CEO, 1 lead developer, 3 developers, and myself in BD), and we are backed by Union Square Ventures and First Round Capital.
Describe a day in your life doing BizDev there.
Every day at Pinch is different, and I'm usually doing a variety of things at any given time. A large part of my job involves connecting with new strategic partners and potential users, as well as brainstorming opportunities with companies/developers that are currently using our service, but are looking for more. This also entails keeping up on developments in our space (smartphone applications), learning from developers and companies that are doing interesting things, and gauging strategies that might make sense for us to employ...(read more)
How'd you find your job?
I was particularly interested in either pursuing venture capital, or business development and/or strategy at a VC-backed startup. I reached out directly to a number of companies in the New York area, specifically those backed by some of the more prominent east coast VCs (like Union Square Ventures, in this case). I met the team at Pinch, felt positively about the opportunity; the team felt likewise, and here I am now.
The one important thing I realized in pursuing a business role at a startup (and at seed-stage VCs for that matter), is that the process can be an "entrepreneurial" one, in and of itself. Pinch Media did not have an actual position in place; I reached out, and there was a mutual fit, so I was brought on board. This process is similar to that of many others I know, who currently work at startups.
What has the transition from banking to a start-up been like? What advice do you have for those looking to make a similar transition?
I had been looking to ultimately enter a BD/strategy role at a startup ever since I started my career in investment banking (I was at Houlihan Lokey before transitioning into my current position). I have worked mostly on M&A transactions and some private/venture-stage financings in the tech and interactive media space; so, having an intimate familiarity with digital/interactive media and tech companies via the deals I have done certainly helped.
Nonetheless, at first I was a little worried that I was ill-prepared for the type of position I wanted; most friends of mine in similar roles come from a management consulting background. However, I found that my skill sets from banking were definitely transferable: systematic way of analyzing companies, modeling during fundraising, and even softer skills like tracking deal pipelines (did not realize how important this was until this job), being able to manage a general deal process, etc, etc... (read more)
Has your experience impacted your career plans? How?
It definitely has; I have a much clearer picture of what I like and dislike about tech entrepreneurship, and this has made me a lot smarter about my options going forward. The good thing about working for a startup is having the option to learn on someone else's account, so to speak; if/when I decide to found a company, I'll have the professional maturity of having essentially gone through it once before, which is clearly a positive.
Why do you love your start-up job? We want to know!
Finding a start-up job on Doostang
Start-up job listings have found a natural home on Doostang. We're a Silicon Valley startup ourselves, and we have a strong track record of placing venture capitalists who often help their portfolio companies recruit through Doostang.
Even as we type, there are a bunch of cool opportunities out there – doing BD (like Azeem!) in New York for an early stage advertising start-up or in London for a green start-up, Product management in LA for a car-pricing information service, or even online marketing for Doostang ;).
Beyond listings, don't forget Azeem's point about being entrepreneurial in your search itself. Start-ups change – quickly – and most don't have in-house recruiters. What does this mean for you? That often creating the opportunity in a start-up is the name of the game. If you know a company you want to work for, search for people who work there. If you don't, check out your inside connections on our start-up listings and ask for advice. Network, be hungry, be foolish, network. Repeat.
Is your start-up hiring? Post your opening on a start-up friendly budget (free), and reach the best of the best.
Enjoy your Thursday,
Howie Rhee, MBA
Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
Watch our video: www.fuqua.duke.edu/wakeup
Walk-in Hours for Students: Mondays, 12:30-1:30pm, Thursdays, 3:00-4:00pm
Duke Entrepreneurship Links:
- Weekly Education Series - www.dukeDEES.com
- Connect with Duke Entrepreneurs - www.dukegen.com
- Find a startup - www.startupmatchmaker.blogspot.com
- Duke Start-Up Challenge - www.dukestartupchallenge.org
- Entrepreneurship Week 2008 - www.eweekatduke.com
- Find an expert http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/centers/cei/entrepreneuraffiliates/
- Twitter - http://twitter.com/howierhee
- Blog - www.howierhee.blogspot.com
- Photos - http://www.flickr.com/photos/eshipatduke
- LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/in/howierhee
- Learn VC - www.learnvc.com (advertisement)