Joining AdaptiLab as their first Growth Hire
When I first began looking for jobs, I wasn't sure which type of company I was looking for. I knew that I wanted to be at a company where I would make an impact, but also thought a company with a serious training program was a must (it would be my first job in sales after all). I talked to various people who had done quite well in tech sales, and there seemed to be a divide for where they recommended starting. Half recommended going to a larger company where there was a serious training process — but those would just result in a business development role, for at least a year (at the largest, most established companies). The other half suggested a startup. This scared me — growing up in the Bay Area, I think that you either have a special place in your heart for startups, or you fear them because of all the people that think they're special and fail. But as I thought more about it, I realized that I love failing. In my time as a collegiate rower, every time you stepped on the erg, there was a possibility of failing. But that just meant that you had to work harder the next time.
When I first learned about AdaptiLab, their product seemed interesting. An automated screening tool for machine learning and ai candidates. It made sense. I started looking into their company, reading articles (like this one and this one). The company is legit — they'd raised over 2 million in funding, by some serious venture firms (Trilogy Equity Partners… John Stanton's firm, and they're Techstars Alums) among others. Their customers also included Experian, HighSpot, and Pinterest among others-certainly nothing to scoff at.
After speaking with a variety of people, I decided that I would go for the startup. The main reason that I chose this route was the accountability and ownership that I would have earlier than the larger companies.
On my first day at work, I realized I had made the right decision. My "onboarding," was quite different than what had been the case at other large companies I've worked at before. Here, onboarding was generating leads, figuring out who our target customers were, working on marketing and so much more. Within my first three hours, I was touching more parts of the company and our business model than I would in six months at a larger company.
I also couldn't have asked for a better team to work with. Everyone at AdaptiLab is remarkably honest and straight-forward. If you have an opinion, people want to hear it, and they'll listen. One example of this is the bi-weekly one-on-one's we have with both the CEO (James Wu) and CTO (Allen Lu). These one-on-one's are meant to discuss issues beyond work. It's been clear to me from the start that not only do both Allen and James care about AdaptiLab's success, but also the wellbeing of its employees. We have a team lunch every Friday, that ranges from pizza to Asian cuisines, it's nice to leave the office and go eat something together. Just another way of solidifying the already close relationship we all have with each other.
Team Lunch at MOD Pizza
Earlier I mentioned that AdaptiLab was a TechStars company (in fact, the earliest to raise a series seed and also top 3 pitch). TechStars, if you don't already know, is an international startup accelerator. Being from TechStars, AdaptiLab can leverage those resources. One cool instance of this was last week, I got to attend the TechStars Alexa event at Amazon. I watched various startups present on their companies, gaining a deeper understanding of the startup community in Seattle. Being a San Francisco native, I never really thought about other areas in the US (or globally) as being startup hubs, but already I'm realizing that Seattle is one of them.
The Amazon Alexa Accelerator Demo Night
If you're trying to decide between a startup and a larger company, do yourself a favor and try to understand both sides. A startup isn't for everyone, but it's important to give them more credibility than people often do.