Episode 35

#35 Take Risks When You’re Young: Liz Wessel, Cofounder of WayUp

Liz Wessel is the cofounder of WayUp, an app that helps college students find jobs and internships. After graduating from Penn, she worked at Google, first in Mountain View on the Partnerships and Grants team and then in India to lead brand initiatives. After her tour of duty in India, Wessel returned to the U.S. and cofounded WayUp. Season 3 Host Erica Duignan and Liz chat about the inspiration for WayUp, how much money you should raise for your seed round, and her secret to finding mentors and advisors.

Show Notes

UniEats Gives College Students 10% Restaurant Discounts Peter Cohan, Forbes

Money Millennials: Liz Wessel and J.J Fliegelman Making Job Hunting Easier by Kofie Yeboah, The Huffington Post

An ex-Googler turned startup CEO asks all her employees to ‘cold email’ their idols — here’s why by Jacquelyn Smith, Business Insider

How To Change Your Startup’s Name: A Checklist by Brian Solomon, Forbes

Do Things That Don’t Scale by Paul Graham

Guest bios & transcripts are available on www.broadmic.com.

Bio

Liz Wessel is the Co-Founder and CEO at WayUp, the leading platform for students and recent grads to apply for jobs and internships.
Founded in July 2014, WayUp is a 44-person startup in NYC. They have raised over $9M in funding, and was named by CNN as one of the 30 most innovative companies changing the world. WayUp's users represent over 4,900 campuses in the U.S., and WayUp has worked with companies of all sizes -- from startups to Fortune 500's like Google, Starbucks and Disney.
Liz has been featured as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and has been named one of the 18 Coolest Women in Silicon Valley and in Business Insider’s Silicon Alley 100 list in 2015.
Prior to founding WayUp and after graduating from UPenn, Liz worked at Google as a Product Marketing Manager in California and then in India.

Transcript

Woman: I've always wanted to start a company. There was always no doubt in mind that I was going to start a company, and I'm a big believer in, like you wanna try to do the riskier things earlier in life.

Woman 2: I am an entrepreneur.

Woman 3: Be inspired, we are incredibly powerful.

Woman 4: Color outside the mind.

Woman 5: Open your mind.

Woman 6: Dream big.

Woman 7: Be bold.

Woman 8: Take action.

Woman 9: The narrative needs to change.

Woman 10: We can fix this. We can change this.

Woman 11: I know we can.

Man: Think broad.

Woman 12: Think like a broad.

Woman 13: Think broad.

Kelly: So today, I'm in the studio with Liz Wessel, co-founder of WayUp, an app that helps college students find jobs and internships. Originally from New York City, Liz attended the University of Pennsylvania where she started her first company. After graduated from Penn, she worked at Google, first in Mountain View on the Partnerships and Grand team, and then in India to lead brand initiatives. After Liz moved back from India, she co-founded WayUp with JJ Fliegelman. We will be discussing today how she founded WayUp, managed to close her seed round in just two weeks, and some key takeaways from raising her Series A round. Liz, welcome to BroadMic.

Liz: Thank you so much for having me.

Kelly: Yeah, it's really nice to meet you.

Liz: You too.

Kelly: I am just thrilled to speak with you today. So you have a pretty interesting background. You started your first company at Penn. So can you tell us a little bit about that company and what inspired you to start a business when you were still in college?

Liz: Sure, so that company was called PennEats, and then we changed it, or I changed it to UniEats. And so basically what it was, the background was sophomore year college, I went to Stanford for a quick kind of program for entrepreneurial minded students and...

Kelly: Very cool, I love Stanford.

Liz: You go there?

Kelly: No, but I am from California. I went to UCLA.

Liz: Okay, there you go. Oh nice.

Kelly: But Stanford is a great school.

Liz: It's a gorgeous school.

Kelly: Congratulations on that.

Liz: Oh well, I didn't go to Stanford.

Kelly: I know, but even just for the program, it's always fun.

Liz: So I went to this quick program. I attended college at UPenn, but I went for the quick program, and when I was there, I went into a Jamba Juice, and I'll never forget the guy said to me, "Do you have your Stanford student ID card? You'll get 10% off." And I said, "No, I'm not a Stanford student," and so I didn't get the 10% off. And I remember walking away from that saying, "Wow, Penn should have the same sort of thing."

So I went back to college, back to school, and I walked around all the local businesses, and I said, "If I got your logo on a card that was in many students at Penn's wallets, would you give them 10% off just for showing the card?" And they all said yes. And I said, "I'm gonna charge the students. Are you okay with that?" And they said yes.

So over the summer, I actually was interning in Tokyo, but while there with my free time, I would create these cards and incorporated the business. And my dad's a lawyer, so he helped me a bunch. And I ended up coming back to school. I had printed all these cards. I think I put down like $1,500 of my own money to do this, came back, and actually started selling the cards on campus. And my ex-boyfriend at the time, was working on it with me. And it was really fun, and we ended up franchising it to other schools, which is why we changed the name from PennEats to UniEats.

So such a simple business that really any student could start, but it was a lot of fun, and taught me a lot of lessons.

Kelly: That is very cool. Is the company still around?

Liz: So I learned that someone actually turned, I sold all rights to it to other students and kept kind of making a little bit of money off of it, and they did the same to other students after they graduated. And I learned recently that it had kept going until I think a year ago, when someone kind of tried to turn it into a mobile app, but it did not do so well. And so I thought that was pretty funny.

Kelly: I don't know, how'd you fit all of the logos onto one little card?

Liz: It was like 15 logos on one card, yeah, so not that bad.

Kelly: That's really great, wow. You know, they always say that the best entrepreneurs, you know, sort of got the entrepreneurial spirit, or the bug, got bitten by the bug very early, so I'm not surprised that you were already...

Liz: Oh, I was doing stuff from when I was like five years old.

Kelly: Oh yeah? Well tell us about some of those stories. What were you doing as a young child?

Liz: I think the one my parents like to tell the most is that in second and third grade, my parents are divorced. And when I was little, I would go to my dad's house on Wednesday nights. And on Thursday mornings when he would drop me off at school, he would give me one $2 bill, which I thought was so special and rare.

Kelly: That is special.

Liz: I know, and so I would go into school, and I would tell everyone how special and rare it was, and I would sell the $2 bill for $5.

Kelly: Wow.

Liz: Or $3 or $4, and so I would profit off of these $2 bills. And I made a decent amount of money for a, you know, third graders...

Kelly: You were a budding currency trader.

Liz: Yes, the principal ended up finding out and explaining that it was illegal, and that I had to stop. But it was probably the first time I ever kind of learned how to make money on my own.

Kelly: That's very interesting. So you know, obviously you learned early, but you didn't stop. You worked in marketing at Google after you graduated Penn. Can you tell us why you decided to go from running a tiny, exciting startup with your boyfriend, to working for one of the world's largest corporations?

Liz: Yeah, so okay. So senior year of college, I had interned for Google the summer between junior and senior year, and I learned what marketing was actually by doing a part time job during school, which is part of what really inspired me and my co-founder to wanna start this...

Kelly: Well you also learned from, obviously, PennEats. I mean, if that's not marketing, I don't know what is, right?

Liz: Oh totally.

Kelly: That's genius marketing.

Liz: It's super true, but I was also a campus ambassador for Anheuser-Busch, which is like a Fortune 500 beverage company. And so I learned it from different sides, and I remember seeing like really how fun marketing was for another company. I think it's always gonna be fun if you're marketing yourself, but even working for another company, and so I ended up saying I wanna try marketing. Got the internship between junior and senior year, and that's part of why we were, my co-founder JJ and I, were so inspired to start this company was because we both had such great experiences working in college.

So senior year, I actually got an offer from a venture capital fund probably, you know, maybe top ten largest funds in the country, as well as Google, to be a product marketing manager. And I didn't know which one I wanted to take. And I remember, I cold emailed who at the time was my role model, Roelof Botha at Sequoia, and I said, "I've heard you speak a bunch of times. We've never really met, but I want your advice. You've seen so many companies go from zero to billions of dollars. I wanna do that one day. What's the best experience I can have before that?"

And he said, "Get operating experience. Don't go into investing, and work at an operating company that you know you'll learn so much from because they're really doing a great job." And really at the time, like what better of a company to go to if you wanna focus on tech than Google? So I went to Google.

Kelly: Well that makes sense, kind of like, you know, the Ivy League of places to work in tech. So you know, what I thought was really interesting about your background is, you know, okay, going to work in marketing at Google, it's obviously a very prestigious role, but it's kind of a no brainer. Tell us about your time in India? So you know, actually having, I mean you're obviously not Indian I'm guessing. You know, how did you sort of, you know, get the chutzpah to go out and move to India and work for few years.

Liz: Chutzpah is right. That's really fun. So okay. So my first year, so the program I was in was actually started by Marissa. It was the APM and APMN program. And what they do is they have a small group. I think my year there were about 20 or 25 of us new grads in it in the US. And you do one job for one year, and then you do another job for another year. You rotate. And you can rotate into any kind of job that you want as long as they're hiring, and that includes any country.

So it's actually a very entrepreneurial minded place. When I joined Google for the specific program, I had given them my two years' notice. I said, "I'm gonna do this for two years, and then I'm gonna quit and start a company. Are you okay with that?" And they said yes. So and there have been plenty of people. Kevin Systrom was in it, and started Instagram. Britt Moran started [inaudible 00:08:02]. So I was really excited about it. In my first year, I learned a lot about kind of headquarters, and how to do product...I worked a lot on product, with engineers, with designers.

In my second year, I really wanted to get more of an international experience and have that kind of exposure, specifically at an emerging market. So there's a few at Google, there's Brazil. It's BRIIM, Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, Mexico. And the only one of those five that is an English speaking in the office country is India. So I applied to work at India. I went, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, if not really the best, other than starting this company. I had an unbelievable lifestyle for one year because things are pretty inexpensive there compared to America. And I learned so much. I met such incredible people. I visited such amazing places. I went to like 30 cities and 16 countries in one year. I mean, I really explored, and it was just so incredible. And I learned a lot about how to scale an initiative by working there.

Kelly: Yeah, I mean, what do you think were some of the biggest takeaways that you got from living and working in India?

Liz: A few. I would say, so the first one is just how to manage just about anyone, regardless of cultural background. So I managed a lot of agencies, I would manage sometimes like contractors for events, whatever it might be. And you know, it's a very different culture there and in office than it is in Mountain View, let alone in America. And so I definitely think I learned how to manage much better, and I would say my manager there was actually also one of the most incredible people who really has inspired to be the way I am in the office, Sandeep Manan [SP] who now works in Mountain View at Google.

So those are two of them, and I would say the third was just simply like, I learned about myself. I knew no one in this entire country when I moved there, 1.2 billion people, I knew no one. I was the only non-Indian woman in the office when I moved out of thousand. I mean like I was really out of my comfort zone, and I think I usually do well in those situations, but I learned a lot about myself.

Kelly: That's great, wow. It sounds like it was a really cool experience, and you learned a lot. So it was a good choice.

Liz: It was worth it.

Kelly: You know, one of the things that I think is so interesting, is you talked about the fact that when you joined Google, you sort of warned them in advance, hey, I'm only here for two years, and then I'm out of here to do a startup. You know, when you were actually in that situation, and you were in the comfort of, you know, whether it's being in beautiful Mountain View or living like a king in India, you know...

Liz: A queen.

Kelly: A queen, a khaleesi. What really inspired you to, you know, give all that up, leave the mothership of Google, right, and head out on your own to start WayUp? What was sort of the impetus to actually get you out of there?

Liz: I would say two things. So the first one was just I've always wanted to start a company. There was always no doubt in mind that I was going to start a company. And I'm a big believer in like, you wanna try to do the riskier things earlier in life because, you know, I hope to one day have...

Kelly: That's great advice.

Liz: Yeah, and I hope to one day have a family, and you know, the bigger risks you can take without anyone depending on you, and to say that I wouldn't start a company later in life. I hopefully will always be entrepreneurial no matter what the situation is. But I think it's easier to take these risks, you know, especially your first time risk as big as that earlier in life. So I would say that was the first one.

And then the second one was just, I was obsessed with this idea, and I was obsessed with the concept of working with my co-founder JJ. And I think he felt pretty similarly. And he just decided he was leaving his job at McKinzie, and so it was just kind of perfect timing. And I knew if I waited, you know, it was just like perfect timing, perfect idea, and perfect situation for both of us.

Kelly: And so what were some of the risks that you were most worried about when you guys decided to leave your corporate jobs and start this company?

Liz: Well from a practical standpoint, it was like well, where do we work? So we went to work out of the NYU libraries because we had no idea where to go. So the first one was like, where do we work? Even everything like legal, incorporating, and all of that stuff. There's kind of generic guides online, but there's a lot of things that they don't include because they try to be very, you know, legally okay. But there's a bunch of, you know, advice that I got from, luckily, advisors of ours who I had met throughout my life.

And then raising money, we didn't even think we wanted to raise money. We wanted to bootstrap. And then when we decided, okay, let's hire these two people, we said okay, let's raise like 200K. And then someone gave us the advice, raise more than you think you need. So we said, "Okay, we'll raise 300." And that was where things got not out of control in a bad way, but that was where we met our first investors, and we ended up raising a million dollars pretty quickly. And so...

Kelly: That's great. So you raised five times more than you wanted originally.

Liz: Yes.

Kelly: That's an interesting strategy. Sometimes, you know, if you kind of ask for less and you sort of create a sense of scarcity, you can end up with more demand than you're expecting. I mean, what do you think drove that in your situation?

Liz: Yeah, I think with institutional investors, when you're talking about raising a company that you truly, raising, fundraising around for a company that you truly believe will become a billion dollar company in, you know, no time. I think most investors are going to actually question your legitimacy if you say, "We're only raising 100 or 200K and that's all we need." Like I think if anything, they often want to know that you have big plans, and that you can, you know, use the money in a smart way. I'm not talking about $10 million for a seed round. I've seen those, and I think that that often is ridiculous, but I think they wanna know that you're gonna know that you can use money in a smart way. And 200K really is not that much if you wanna grow very, very quickly.

Kelly: I mean, I guess if you're working out of the New York, NYU library, you can probably get pretty far on that, but not if you pay rent in New York, right?

Liz: Yeah, or even, I mean, we barely made...

Kelly: Or lawyer fees.

Liz: Exactly, it's the little things. It's like the lawyer fees, it's the first engineer.

Kelly: Get off LegalZoom. Let's get out of the library.

Liz: Exactly, exactly, yeah.

Kelly: That's fantastic. You know, one of the things that I love to know, I mean, obviously you found a co-founder, you downed some first employees it sounds like relatively quickly, and then you were also able to secure funding. You know, all those things are really challenging. Can you tell me a little bit about, you know, from your perspective how you feel being a woman has sort of influenced your journey in, you know, getting your first startup done, getting a job at Google. You know, sort of navigating that cultural landscape, and then starting this business? And you know, if you feel that it affected your fundraising at all, or you know, sort of any of the things that you need to do to create this business?

Liz: Yeah, I have to be honest and say, I mean, I've never been a man in these situations, so I can't compare the two, but what I will say is I have yet to have being a woman hurt me in any way. If anything, and this is like kind of the controversial statement I've said before, that a lot of my female founder friends agree with, if anything, I think I actually was able to, you know, when I started fundraising, which was July 2014, there was a lot of press about how no investors are talking to female founders. And so if anything, it might have even...

Kelly: So you're kind of like ride that wave a little bit?

Liz: It was almost that, and I'm not saying that anyone gave me money because I was a woman. That's ridiculous and a stretch. But I will say that maybe, maybe and maybe I'm wrong, I was even a little bit closer to getting meetings on the books because I was a woman. But honestly, I don't even know if that's true, especially knowing my investors, knowing what I know about them now. So I would say honestly, it's not helped or hurt me at all. Maybe it's helped a little bit in that there are some women who are just incredible leaders. Like who cares about their gender? They're incredible leaders. And they prefer to mentor or advise women because they wanna help more women rise up. And so as a result, I've had some incredible mentors who I might not have had otherwise, like Padma Warrior being one of them. She's one of the most incredible women I've ever met. And she definitely takes women under her wings.

And there's some events that I get to go to that sometimes I'm like, "Wow, I can't believe I was invited here," and it's for women only. And I doubt there are many like men only events that are, you know, on the invitation, men only. So I definitely...

Kelly: Well, they're just mostly men.

Liz: Exactly, and those I go to all the time.

Kelly: Actually there are plenty.

Liz: Yeah.

Kelly: So okay, that's actually really great that you've had that experience. You know, did you feel that, you know, there were any sort of challenges that might have surprised you that you weren't prepared for, or was it pretty much, you know...

Liz: Just in starting a business?

Kelly: You know, yeah, as a woman. Sort of from the woman's perspective, but of course, it could be any challenge that you had starting the business, you know, that you feel, something that really shocked you that you weren't prepared for. You've always been planning to start a company. What sort of really shocked you?

Liz: From a woman perspective, not much, mainly because I just had been used to it, and there was so much press around it. I was like expecting it. So when I showed up and there were four other women there, I was surprised, and I was like, "Wow, there's four others of us." You know, but other than that, I would say I wasn't too surprised. And I studied math in school, and I was always one of like one or two women in those classes.

So as a founder, everything was surprising. Like you can read all the articles you want. You can watch or listen to all the podcasts, or TV shows, or movies about this stuff, but you will never be able to expect what you're going to go through. The ups and downs have definitely been, everyone talks about starting a company is like a roller coaster. It's definitely been more so than I ever could have imagined. Sometimes I am just on top of the moon, and sometimes I am like, you do not wanna go near me because I'm just so upset about something, whether it's having to let go of an employee, or whether it's you know... You become so attached to your team, and to the success of your business that one small deal falling through, one customer not ending up purchasing or something, it just completely can take you, consume you.

So I would say the ups and downs, and I would say also just how not glamorous it is. I thought that starting a business was gonna be this whole like glamorous adventure with lots of hard work. But it was never like...I don't know why I thought that, but I think it's just the way media portrays it, and the way that you often hear from founders when they're in press interviews or whatever, and they're talking about all these amazing times. And so it's been so hard. My co-founder JJ and I, we go through a lot, and we work 24/7 literally. And so it's been tough.

Kelly: That's really interesting. Wow, you know, I can tell that you're working very hard, and we've had, you know, we definitely get the idea that the media does portray starting a business as this glamorous endeavor that you're gonna do in five inch Louboutin's, right, while wearing some sort of a Dior outfit to the office every day. And the reality very often...

Liz: You can't afford that on a startup salary.

Kelly: Yeah, it ends up being a little bit different. I mean, you know, I have some funny stories about, you know, we were...I was just a pitch event for an investor group that I'm in, and you know, one of the founders showed up with Saint Laurent heels on. And I thought, "Probably not the best thing to wear when you're asking someone else to give you their money." So you know, it's less glamorous than it looks.

So you know, can you tell us a little bit about the company itself? We haven't really talked about, you know, exactly what WayUp does and what really inspired you to create this business and, you know, kind of what purpose you think it's accomplishing in the world?

Liz: So WayUp, again, job site for college students and recent grads. When we were starting this business, JJ and I basically had this insight where we thought that the way students, let alone kind of the way everyone, but we had been students most recently, so we focused on that, the way students were finding jobs was, in our opinion, pretty stupid. Businesses were posting school by school because they couldn't necessarily afford to fly to all the career fairs. So students who, you know, we went to Penn. We were fortunate enough to get a lot of attention from East Coast large companies like the banks on Wall St, etc. But really, really cool startups in Silicon Valley would never have come to Penn because that's a big flight all the way out to Philadelphia. But they would go to Stanford and Berkeley because they're around the corner.

And so what we saw was there was this lack of democratization as a result of businesses wanting to go school by school. And on the student side, they often had no way to know, well okay, I remember I said one summer, for sophomore summer, I said I want to go into finance. Okay, well I had no idea that there was investment banking, sales and trading, private equity, venture capital, all kind of finance. And so I ended up going into private equity for that summer, but I had no idea where to look. And there were like guides and books about each thing.

And so we basically said when we started this business, let's try to really put ourselves in the shoes and mindset of a student who has no idea what they wanna do, who needs to pay for student loans during the school year, 84% of college students work during the school year, but who also wants to get resume building experience to figure out what the hell they wanna do with their life over the summer. And so that's kind of the mindset that we went into.

And then from a product perspective, and that's probably another conversation, we just really wanted to make the application super easy and not feel like you had to, you know, fill out 50 forms for 50 jobs, but instead fill out one profile and apply it to all the jobs.

Kelly: So, you know, when you decided to start this business, and you had the initial concept, and you know, so your initial plan for execution, did you find that you had to change anything or pivot along the way? Where there any, you know, I mean, was it hard to find your product market that, can you tell us about that?

Liz: It definitely was not hard to find product markets in that we launched, and we grew very, very quickly mainly because we...well two reasons. Number one, we actually hired our own users off of our platform. So one of the jobs was work for the company that builds the website you're staring at right now, and promote us to your friends. So it wasn't hard, like every student needs a job. Not every student, but most students need a job. They need to pay for beers, or for loans, or just get resume experience, whatever. So it wasn't hard for that aspect.

What I will say was definitely a little bit of a pivot was we started our company under the name Campus Job. Actually technically, The Campus Job. Then we dropped the "the." Then we were just...

Kelly: Kind of like Facebook.

Liz: Exactly. We had our Facebook moment. And we were Campus Job, and it was such a horrible name because we launched summer internships and we had full time jobs. So we had to change our name, but overall, our business is still, you know, the concept of it is still the same. We're trying to help college students. And now also recent grads, because we have all these full time jobs for getting a job or internship.

Kelly: Oh great, so you sort of added on and expanded the scope.

Liz: Yes.

Kelly: Okay, that's fantastic. Well, you know, it sounds like you've been really successful, so we want to get you to share some of your secrets. As a former, you know, Google marketing leader, and you know, obviously the founder of a very successful startup, which looks like it hasn't had a problem with customer acquisition. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the, you know, amazing marketing strategies or customer acquisition hacks you might have come up with that you would love to share with our audience?

Liz: Yeah, so we have two kind of sides of our marketplace, the users and customers. So the users are the students and recent grads, and then the customers are the businesses who employ students. So I would say customers are way harder. I was just talking with the users, and that's mainly because the customers are paying, and the users are free. They're free to use it. So there's really no downside to trying WayUp out. Whereas with customers, you have to pay, and so there's a little bit of like a risk and reward there.

So on the customer side, we really started...Paul Graham, we did [inaudible 00:23:30] leader, and Paul Graham and YC really tells everyone like you should not focus on enterprises from the start. You need to focus on some small and medium businesses, really understand what works, what doesn't work, and then slowly scale up. And the reason is because you're gonna be waiting potentially a year for any customer if you're focusing on enterprise to close.

Kelly: Absolutely.

Liz: So I would say that was definitely the best decision we made from the start. And I'm so like, whenever so many startups tell me, "Yeah, like we're brand new. We've been around for three weeks, but we're pitching Disney this week, and you know, Google next week." And we're saying like, "Don't do that. Because that's your first impression, and sometimes your first impression could really ruin it for a year or two.

Kelly: Right.

Liz: So wait until you really know what you're doing. So...

Kelly: So learn on sort of the smaller guys.

Liz: Exactly, because worst case, A, they're like probably gonna be a little more sympathetic to your situation. And B, they'll probably be more available to give feedback. Maybe you can take them out for lunch for that. It's a little harder to get on the books of someone senior at Disney or Google. So I would say that was the first one on the customer side.

And then when you do get your first enterprise customer, really giving white glove service. I mean, I remember our first, we had a bunch of first enterprise customers, like Red Bull, and Google, and Uber, but the first one who was paying us like an enterprise customer was Starbucks, and now we have plenty of customers in that realm. But at the very beginning, I remember being so hands-on and it was my personal account because I needed to make sure we'd be successful. So that's in the customer side.

On the user side, honestly, if you can use your own product to acquire users, I think it's awesome. Blue Apron does a great job with referrals. So does Uber. For us, we said, "Let's hire campus reps through WayUp to actually acquire more users." So that was definitely our kind of growth hack from day one. And we still do a campus rep program.

Kelly: You do? Okay, great. And you know, when it comes to, you know you've talked a little bit about sort of reaching out to people, you know, who can help you, right? You mentioned that I think one of your mentors was a woman at Sequoia who you had just reached out to, right?

Liz: Oh, that was a guy. [inaudible 00:25:27]

Kelly: So you know, tell us a little bit about that. You know, it sounds like you're a fearless person. You know, what do you feel about just emailing somebody when you need something?

Liz: I'm the biggest believer, yeah. Cold emailing all the way. So I was recently...It's so funny. A business insider wrote an article about the fact that I am like the biggest cold emailer, and they tell everyone in my company to cold email, and I actually met probably, I won't say her name here, but like one of the most famous women in the world by just cold emailing her and saying...

Kelly: Oprah?

Liz: Oh okay, probably like would either say she's like equal or so, I would say, I cold emailed her and I just showed up, and she invited me for dinner at her home, and so I had dinner at her home and it was so helpful, so awesome. And I've only ever had good experiences or neutral experiences. Neutral meaning they just don't respond. So like what's the worst case scenario if you email someone who you're so wanting to learn from, or so in love with, or so whatever? They don't respond. And if they respond, then it's usually gonna be a good thing.

So I would say tips around cold emailing. Oh, the funny story by the way was Business Insider covered this, and all of a sudden, I had over 1,000 cold emails from other people in my inbox in the next 24 hours, and it was so [inaudible 00:26:36]

So the first thing on cold emailing is like making it very personal. You can tell when someone says, "Hi," let's just use me as an example. "Hi Liz." I get from a lot of college students, like lots of college students cold emailing me, and they say, " I really like what WayUp's doing. I'd really love to talk. I think I can help. Thanks." It's like I just, I get so many of those where I like, I'll introduce you to someone on my team, but what do you wanna help with? What do you wanna work on? So I would say just making it personal, making it specific, and saying exactly what you wanna get out of the person.

And then making sure that you are, you know, if you're gonna cold email them, really go for it and show that you did your research on them. So for this one kind of famous, well not kind of, very famous woman, I had done so much research, and I included, "Here are three things we have in common." And they were like the most ridiculous three things that you clearly had to have done so much research on this person's childhood to have known. And so I did something like that. I think it showed...

Kelly: You don't wanna tell us who it was?

Liz: She told me don't tell anyone, because if you do, then everyone's gonna cold email me.

Kelly: Initials?

Liz: I can't.

Kelly: We got nothing, all right, fine. So you know, this has been just really, really interesting, and educational for me, and I'm sure our listeners. So you know, just sort of in closing I wanna give you one, before we go to the pay it forward, I wanna give you one more chance to just let, particularly the women in our audience today know what advice would you have for somebody who wants to launch a startup?

Liz: Absolutely. So I get a lot of cold emails from female founders who say, "I just want, you know, to talk and hear a little bit of advice you have, especially as a woman." And I'm always gonna respond to that kind of an email. And so the one thing that I get out of all those conversations is that women, so much more so than men, are waiting for almost perfection before they reach out...

Kelly: Perfect conditions, right?

Liz: Yes, and it's so infuriating because you're never gonna be perfect by the time you fundraise. And if you think you're perfect, you're wrong, because no company's perfect. Google's still not perfect. So I can't say enough that, you know, once you have an idea, just start talking to people about it. Talk to people who know what they're talking about. Not your mom and dad. Not your cousin, but someone who is either an investor or a former successful founder, or a former unsuccessful founder, whatever it might be. Get advice and then, you know, once you feel like you're even a little bit ready to start fundraising, start because...or even hiring, whatever it might be. Just start because if you wait, and wait until you feel really, really ready, you're probably never gonna actually successfully do it. So I would just say go for it.

Kelly: And what do you think about those people who say, "Oh my god, oh my god. I have a startup." And you go, "Okay great, tell me about it." And they say, "I can't, it's secret."

Liz: Oh gosh, I call them out on the spot. I immediately say, then it's probably not gonna happen. Like no person's idea is going to be so revolutionary that no one's ever thought of it before. It's all about, as I'm sure you know, it's all about the execution. It's about the nuances. It's about the founders. So if you have an idea, talk to as many people about it as possible because you might hear from someone, some advice or some insights, or even about a competitor that you never would have otherwise known about.

Kelly: And it's okay. Great, well thank you so much for the wonderful advice. And now, we're gonna move on to our Pay It Forward section, where we devote about 60 seconds to making our listeners smarter. So 60 seconds. So first, what are some of your primary sources of information? So it could be blogs, apps, shows, podcasts?

Liz: Every single morning, I read Launch Ticker, Matter Mark, Avisi, Dan Primack's Fortune Sheet, and that's probably the main ones. I'm sure I'm... oh, and CV Insights of course.

Kelly: And CV Insights, I love that too. Okay, great. Any book that you're currently reading that you love or have read in the last six months?

Liz: I'm reading right now, I've read a couple book in the last few months. I'm reading right now, "Hamilton," by Chernow, which is a long book, but...

Kelly: I have that on my bookcase, but I haven't...

Liz: It's so good. It's great.

Kelly: Cracked it open yet. Is it good?

Liz: It's good. I'm audiobook all the way, by the way. It's such an efficient way.

Kelly: Audiobook, that's a good idea. I'm reading "The Gene." Okay, great. Do you have any rituals or habits that you swear by?

Liz: I would say, we do a company all hands every Friday. It's a less personal, more for my company, but it's the best thing we've been doing in my opinion, and continue to do every single week no matter what for the past two years.

Kelly: Who are three female entrepreneurs that you admire?

Liz: I will go with Padma Warrior, Cheryl Sandberg, and let's go with Anu Dugal.

Kelly: Okay, great. What's the best advice that you've ever received?

Liz: Best advice I've ever received was when I was graduating and I remember the father of one of my friends said to me, "Whatever you do, just make sure you're doing something you love because you're gonna probably spend more time with your job than you are with your spouse. And so take your job searches seriously as you take your spouse search."

Kelly: That's great advice. Are there any myths that you'd like to dispel for our listeners?

Liz: That starting a company is glamorous and that you can have a great work/life balance, because you cannot, period, if you wanna be successful, no way.

Kelly: That's truth. So what words of advice would you give to our listeners about closing the confidence gap?

Liz: I would just say overall some things you have to fake it until you make it, and if you understand that no one really knows what they're doing, things will be a lot better and easier as there's this imposter syndrome that every founder has. And what you have to realize is almost everybody in the world has it. The Googlers that I worked with have it, you know, everyone seems to have it. So, except for doctors.

Kelly: Yeah, I hope the doctors don't. What does Think Broad mean to you?

Liz: To me, Think Broad means think outside of the box, be creative, take risks, just don't play by the rules, and you know, be different.

Kelly: Thank you so much, Liz.

Liz: Thank you so much for having me.

Kelly: Thank you for listening to BroadMic. Find us on Facebook, or you can join the community and participate in the conversation around today's episode. You can also let us know what you think about the show, or suggest future guests and topics. We want your feedback. BroadMic is produced by Christy Mirabal, with editing by John Marshall Media. Our executive producer is Sara Weinheimer. Think broad.

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