Ajay here - CEO and Founder of EntryLevel.
Today EntryLevel turns 2 years old. Happy birthday to us 🎉
We’ve had over 20,000 people go through our programs, gone through 2 economic downturns and grown the team to 14 people.
And today, I'm going to tell you our origin story and the lessons I learned while starting and scaling EntryLevel.
While these lessons are from running a startup, I think they’re great general lessons for your career.
(Psst: scroll to the bottom to enter our birthday giveaway!)
Let's go back to the beginning..
When I first moved back to Sydney, I felt a little aimless and unsure of my direction.
But, I knew I was always passionate about education.
In 2013, I started a non-profit that retrained engineers into jobs, and since then I’ve taught over 10,000 students from the high school students to senior executives.
I decided that this was where I wanted to play, and put a deck together to talk to investors about starting an education startup.
I had over 100 conversations with investors, friends, entrepreneurs and educators.
To be completely honest, the idea morphed about 20 times as I was pitching.
I was improving with every conversation - as a founder, as a business concept and as a presenter.
When you work on things - share them. When you keep work to yourself, you don't get feedback, recognition or validation for it. It’s impossible to improve your craft, your business concept, or yourself.
After we raised our pre-seed round, I was really careful with our capital.
After all, I was responsible for the money we raised and it was my role to make sure we turned that money into more money.
We spent time working on different ideas and only doubled down financially when something was working. Until that point we worked frugally and efficiently.
The news makes a big deal out of fundraising, and makes it seem like money raised is validation for entrepreneurs. It isn’t - what matters most is what you’re building.
If you’re looking to work at a company, consider the goals and metrics of the business. Don’t just chase a cool company that has raised a lot of money.
In the beginning, we spent a lot of time finding the right problem to solve and validating solutions.
Between Caleb and I, we spent weeks interviewing employers, students, job seekers and hiring managers to understand what their biggest problems were.
When we had an interesting problem, Rene & Alan (our engineering team) were focused on building prototypes to test solutions to those problems.
Together, the four of us were rapidly defining problems and testing solutions to in the larger problem of unemployment.
I’ve often found that people are bad at defining the problems they are trying to solve. They are too vague, unclear or quantitative enough.
It's important to define the problem you're trying to solve - in your company, or in life. Then it gets much easier to find solutions.
We tried dozens of ideas before something took off.
Because we continually experimented, we eventually found something that worked.
Some of our experiment ideas:
Can you guess which one took off? 😉
Lesson #4: Experiment frequently and diligently
Be experimental in everything you do, whether it’s your job, life or company. If you don’t try things and observe results, you’ll never know if it might work.
We’re going to leave the story here, but if you want to hear how the “EntryLevel” idea went viral then let us know and we’ll do a Part 2!