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1) What do you do now, and what did you do before?
I am currently cofounder of a consumer web startup called Skim.Me. Before starting my first company, I did business development for another tech startup, business development for a startup football league, and sold commercial real estate right out of college.
2) So, why the change?
I’ve been in three different industries (real estate, sports, tech) over my short seven year career. The reason for change has always been from an internal feeling I’ve had. It took me awhile to realize what the feeling was. At first, I thought it was just the need to achieve success and money. A couple years after graduating, I was on my way to achieving both but still felt unfulfilled. Life is a bunch of trade-offs and I finally came to the conclusion that I just wanted to work for myself and be my own boss. To that end, that meant starting something on my own.
3) How did you pitch yourself to the desired industry/role? What worked well? In hindsight, what would you have done differently?
This may seem like a silly question for a founder and entrepreneur. To take the leap of faith I had to pitch myself to me. This is where a lot of would be first-time founders flail. They focus on all the negatives and consistently talk themselves out of actually taking action. Sometimes there’s just not much left to evaluate and you have to go with a feeling then try to figure it out. It won’t always work out but trying is more admirable than not. The only thing I wish I had done differently was find my path to the tech industry sooner.
4) What was the most valuable thing you did in preparation for the new industry/role?
The most valuable thing I did in preparation for being a first-time founder is gain domain expertise. This involves several layers in an industry’s ecosystem. Knowing the infrastructure of your industry generally and then having the specific knowledge needed for your position or department is invaluable. Broad and deep knowledge. I’m still trying to get there after almost two years but I take time everyday to learn.
5) What other advice or insight do you have for readers seeking the same career transition?
Grit is key. Yes, you have to be smart about when to call it quits but many times you only achieve something after several minor failures. At least, that’s what I hope. It’s an uphill battle that’s a psychological roller coaster. You have to learn to grit your teeth and deal with the lows. Keep plugging away. It’s easier said than done and it takes a lot of support from your support system but in the end, having this confidence that you’ll end up on top helps you keep moving in the right direction.
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