Brief Background: Zen (far left in image above), the author of this post, has previously worked at Yelp from their early stages to IPO, and is Tint’s first employee hire.
With all the cool startups in San Francisco, it is so tempting to submit a generic resume and an overused cover letter to every position that matches your experience. Clearly you can make it or break it in the startup world. Especially in the Bay Area (San Francisco and Silicon Valley) where the density of startups, founders and investors can make their fortunes and dreams happen in a short amount of time. Taking the Bart for instance from Oakland to Montgomery- I have witnessed time and time again the abundant ideas and networking neighboring my daily commute. From my experience there are several ways to make it in the startup hype but find one fully equipped with high rewards and least amount of risk: Join a very successful startup. For example, in 2008 fresh out of college, I had joined Yelp and experienced my first IPO in 2012. After leaving, I sought out a new startup experience. After finding Tint, I thought I’d outline the 6 steps that helped me get another opportunity at this awesome startup. Here’s the 6 ways that helped me land a job at a startup
1. Apply to a Startup You Use
I stood out as a candidate because I am an avid user of Tint. Tint is a small tech startup comprised of 3 recent USC graduates now based in San Francisco.
As a business owner, I have spent countless hours updating and designing my website with very little experience with photoshop and basic HTML. It was important to promote all current events and new projects in real-time. Designing, editing and maintaining my website took up majority of my days. Not to mention the social networks of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter… How do I effectively tend to all the networks and keep the information consistent with my website? If you are a small business owner like me, this is flat out time consuming.
Luckily, I found Tint from an ecommerce site and loved the implementation of Instagram photos with their products. I had to try it! It took me 10 minutes to aggregate my social content, and another 5 minutes to embed the curated content on my online shop. What a relief! I had to read on about Tint.
2. Reach out as a real person in the real world.
I read all their blogs and understood where they were coming from as entrepreneurs. I researched about who they were, their advisors and the industry they were in. I learned all about their competitors Rebelmouse, Tagboard, Mass Relevance and a few others to understand what I was getting myself into. I signed up to try all the sites and found the user experience on Tint by far more superior in features, simplicity and design.
I had to reach out! Tint did not have job opportunities out and everyone has figured out how to connect through Linkedin. So I found Tim’s email and requested for a casual meet and greet at their SOMA Office, cleverly called the “Hatchery.”
3. Create a position by proposing your vision
The user-experience utilizing Tint gave me so much useful information, combined with my sales experience, I proposed ways to generate revenue. I shared my affinity for working at Yelp and explained how sponsored ads are sold annually, from $300-$1000 per month. I concluded the email by proposing that I can help generate $100k by the end of the year.
I was ecstatic to get a quick response from Tim.
4. Present strategies when you meet.
As a business owner, I proposed enforcing annual plans to bring in recurring revenue. I talked about how increasing traffic annually through Tint would help a lot of mom & pop shops. I saw the value in using Tint for contests, testimonials and brand engagement. I knew that Tint missed a Series A funding, so I volunteered to have a $25K quota and $30k target to help generate $100k by the end of 2013. I shared my experience with CRM systems like Salesforce to have a 360 degree view from lead to conversion. I talked about valuable metrics that would help me as an individual contributor produce, which will ultimately help the team execute important decisions to scale.
And below is what happened when my ideas started to come to fruition in Oct. 2013.
5. Let the past dictate the future.
I had a lot of fun meeting with the team. I was very open about my past, my successes and my mistakes. I felt candid in describing how valuable each and every experience were for me as a human being. All my achievements and adversities only trained me to be the person I am today and so sharing my vulnerabilities had a major part in earning the team’s trust. I decided to be completely transparent, and it was a perfect way to show my honesty as one of Tint’s value statements is “Transparency is key.”
6. Walk the talk.
We’ve heard this all before and even after earning someone’s trust, there will always be that doubt. It was interesting for me to propose $100k to 3 intellectual guys straight from college, decades ahead of their years. I had to prove that I could step up to the plate. So I offered to work together first… before anything else. Not many applicants have the luxury to offer full commitment. Vice versa, not many startups have the luxury to commit on false promises. I felt confident in the team and I knew we had a winning recipe to execute on the vision.
This is just the beginning of a fairytale story: I got a temporary offer in September, and enjoyed sharing a desk with Tint’s awesome CEO, Tim Sae Koo (first image above). Most importantly, we have already passed the 100k vision. Last month alone, our team team of four generated over 92k in recognized revenue.
Hope you enjoyed that story as this is only the beginning of a long journey ahead. Do you work at a startup? How did you land it? Did you employ successful strategies that worked for you? Feel free to share in the comments below!