Monday, November 30, 2009

Adam Robinson - Ionix Hiring Systems

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Adam Robinson - Founder of Ionix Hiring Systems

Name: Adam Robinson

Company/Product: Ionix Hiring Systems (Ionix)

What is Ionix? Most businesses' #1 problem is, simply put, hiring the right people for the job. Ionix is a comprehensive, web-based solution that helps managers choose the absolute best fit for any given job opening, and then helps them ensure that their new hire is immediately productive. Our product guides managers through the process of defining their open role, selecting the right predictive interview questions to ask, scorecarding results, and building a performance plan for the new hire's first 90 days. In doing so, we save companies a boatload of money and substantially improve the productivity of new hires.

How did you get involved in Ionix? I co-founded a Recruitment Process Outsourcing firm, illuma, in June of 2004. Over the course of four years, we great that company to nearly $4M in annual reveneue and services some of the best-known mid-market firms in the Midwest. As a result of running that business, I knew that there was a huge gap in the marketplace for products that help managers and entrepreneurs achieve hiring sucess - so here we are.

What is the best thing about working at Ionix? We are a company that rewards results, and goal-focused people can do exceptionally well here. We're not building software for technology's sake - we're building a product that has to work for our customers (and it does). For the right people, that's incredibly rewarding, and a lot of fun.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups? The first employees into a start-up have to think like owners, and they have to be comfortable with ambiguity. There's nobody else who's going to pick up the slack for you - you own the result, good or bad. The lack of defined processes and structure can be unsettling for people who are used to doing their one job in the corporate world, particularly mid-career managers and executives. People who are able to buy into the vision while recognizing the harsh reality of limited resources and long odds make for good hires.

Genevieve Thiers - Sittercity

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Genevieve Thiers- Founder of

Name:Genevieve Thiers
Company/Product: Sittercity
Role: Founder and CEO

What is Sittercity? Sittercity is America's first and largest network to find caregivers online, with a little more than a million caregivers nationwide in five caregiver types: child care, pet care, senior care, home care and tutoring.

How did you get involved in Sittercity? When I was about to graduate my senior year of college, I saw a nine month pregnant mother climbing 200 steps posting flyers for a babysitter. I could not believe she was walking! I posted the flyers for her and as I was posting them (this was in 2000,) I thought "it would be so interesting if someone took all the caregivers in the country and put them in one place...kind of like an online dating service." I ran back to my dorm, used my roomate's computer, and saw that no one had created an online web site to match parents with caregivers online in the format that I envisioned. I was so excited! I called my dad, borrowed money for the domain name, hired two college friends to build and design the site, began flyering the city of Boston to get sitters, and never looked back.

What is the best thing about working at Sittercity? The performing is my favorite thing! I am trained as an opera singer, and have been performing since the age of eleven. I love doing press for the company--we've been on Ellen, The View (2x), TODAY show (5x), GMA, CBS Early name it! It's been awesome. I also love doing speaking events. If I were asked, however, what the best thing about the company is, I would say the people. We have an incredible team, with so much talent.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups? You have to be a bit of a zealot, in my mind. You have to believe 100% in your vision and be willing to take up a banner and run with it and never look back. If you falter, the army behind you does too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pek Pongpaet - Tweetlytics

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Pek Pongpaet - Founder of Tweetlytics.

Name: Pek Pongpaet
Company/Product: Tweetlytics
Role: Founder

What is Tweetlytics?
Tweetlytics is a social media monitoring web based application that provides various analytics on Twitter. Brands, marketers, and PR agencies can use it for brand monitoring and seeing a big picture view of their campaigns. Tweetlytics lets you slice Twitter data by various dimensions including time, geography, gender, sentiment, and location and more.

How did you get involved in Tweetlytics?
Our company has built several Twitter based apps mostly games that are consumer focused, some of them for clients. As we were building more and more of these, I was curious to know the effectiveness of these Twitter apps so that I could answer the question that our clients had of what am I getting out of this? Questions like how many people is this reaching, who where when what? And so the idea of an analytics dashboard came up that could be used for such a task. However we realized that this was an even bigger idea. The field of social media/brand monitoring was huge and that was how the product came about.

What is the best thing about working at Tweetlytics?
By far the best thing about working at Tweetlytics is the people. We bring on really talented people who are great at what they do and we have them do what they do best. I'm constantly amazed at what people have produced for Tweetlytics. Also the field of social media is so young and new that it is very exciting to be working in this space. Aside from being an entrepreneur which means we are trying to figure out what to do, we are also trying to figure out this new field of social media, so it is doubly exciting.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups?
I believe the people best suited for start-ups must have at least these 3 qualities: passion, perseverance, and self motivation.

Start-ups are hard. And more often than not, start-ups will eat up your life. If you do not love what you do, it will not happen and I believe it will be difficult to succeed. Passion means you believe in your idea wholeheartedly. If you do not believe in your own idea, how will you convince someone else either to join your cause or buy your product.

Start-ups also do not succeed overnight. Every time you hear of an overnight success, it usually involves years of lessons learned. It could be the founder tried several start-ups before finally hitting on the jackpot. The idea that you can just build a site and tons of users will immediately flock to it is a romantic fantasy. Behind the graceful execution of that is usually a bunch of people working hard at making it look effortless much like a swan that moves around the lake gracefully. You do not see it kicking its feet beneath the water. People who do not have the stomach to persevere through the ups and downs of start-ups and willing to roll up their sleeves for good old fashioned hustling are in for a rough ride.

Start-ups can also be very open ended and ambiguous. The very definition of start up means that there are not yet processes in place. Things are also usually so crazy that if a person needs to be micromanaged and told explicitly what to do, they would find it hard to succeed in a start-up. I believe a start-up requires people who can self identify tasks, opportunities, and goals and just go ahead and execute them. The essence of a start-up is a different beast than a corporation. In a corporate setting, your role is clearly defined. This is what you are and hence what you do is already predefined.

I also agree with Mark Achler that you have to be a little crazy to want to work at start-ups. No one in their right mind would want to subject themselves to the stresses of start-ups. There are much easier ways to earn money than to go in a start-up. But for those people who are not motivated entirely by money, but to the pursuit of creating something lasting and of value and have a helping hand in shaping and creating a new entity, then start-ups might be for them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scott Robbin - Songza

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Scott Robbin - Founder of Songza.

Name: Scott Robbin
Company: Songza
Role: Founder

What is Songza?
Songza is a music search engine and Internet jukebox that allows users to listen to any song or artist simply by typing in
names and titles. Users can share songs with friends through e-mail, create links to songs and share music via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

How did you get involved with Songza?
In the Summer of 2007, I had been working with Aza Raskin and friends, updating the Humanized website. When that project came to a close, we realized how much we enjoyed working together, and decided to try something else. It turns out that "something else" was a music search engine that Aza had prototyped earlier that year. The idea was simple: find a fast and legal way for users to search for, and share, music online. We spent the next month building the site, layering Aza's innovative UI designs with my content aggregation and business logic. In November 2007, we launched Songza to the public. 7 days later we had over 1 million song plays. In one month, Songza's traffic had grown exponentially, and we decided to spin Songza off into its own business entity. I became that entity's President.

What is the best thing about working at Songza?
Disclosure: I'm not longer with Songza. We sold the company back in October 2008.

That said, my favorite thing about having worked at Songza was the vibrant community of online music start-ups and their founders. I've become good friends with many of our would-be competitors. At the end of the day, we're all just fans looking for a better way to discover music.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups?
I think there are two types of people out there: those who are excited about things, and those who want to make money off of people who are excited about things. Both work at start-ups, but only one succeeds. The best suited are those recognize this trait in each other.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Troy Henikoff -

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Troy Henikoff - CEO at

Name: Troy Henikoff
Company: OneWed
Role: CEO

What is OneWed?
OneWed is the ultimate online source for the truth in wedding planning, providing couples with a wealth of tips, advice, and creative suggestions to help personalize their wedding experience. The site’s newest platform,, is a virtual way for couples to start the celebration early and keep in contact with guests through a social wedding planning network. OneWed boasts the largest searchable directory of local wedding vendors with over 230,000 vendors nationwide with honest ratings and reviews. Additionally, the site has all the other things you would expect; Blog, online wedding checklist, free wedding websites and ideas for everything from engagement rings to honeymoon planning.

How did you get involved with OneWed?
Most start-ups begin the entrepreneur in the basement or garage, working hard to prove out an idea and then having to pitch it to potential investors to get it financed. With OneWed, the process was reversed. Lake Capital, a local Private Equity firm, had the idea initially and was looking for an Entrepreneur to take the reins. It started as a consulting gig, doing market research, building out the business plan and financial model and presenting to the investment committee. Once they gave the idea a "thumbs up", it became a full time job executing on the plan. We launched the new OneWed in October of 2008 and have not looked back since!

What is the best thing about working at OneWed?
We are taking an existing, established industry (total wedding spending in the U.S. is over $100 Billion / year) and leveraging new technology to turn it on its head. We are constantly looking at how users are looking for information and making buying decisions and providing them the tools to do more of it on OneWed. User contributed Ratings and Reviews are a big part of our vendor database. Allowing the brides to create their own mini social network in WeddingPreParty is leveraging our target market's familiarity with Facebook, and we are always looking to do more!

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at start-ups?
Working as part of a team at a start-up is very different from working in corporate America. You have to be comfortable with a much higher level of ambiguity than in larger organizations. By their nature, larger organizations have been around longer, have proven ways of achieving well defined goals and a structure to make that process repeatable. In a start-up, you are trying to figure that all out still, so things are constantly changing and there is much less structure and process. For some people this is liberating (me for example...) for others it can be paralyzing. I look for people that seek adventure, like figuring things out and are intellectually curious. You couple that with a willingness to work very hard and a competitive streak and you will have a great fit.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Daliah Saper, Saper Law Offices, LLC

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing: Daliah Saper – Principal Attorney at Saper Law Offices, LLC.

Name: Daliah Saper
Company: Saper Law Offices, LLC
Role: Principal Attorney

What is Saper Law Offices?
We are intellectual property and business attorneys with significant transactional and both federal and state litigation experience. Our most recent court cases have involved trade secret misappropriation, intellectual property infringement, defamation, and commercial disputes. Click on the News tab to learn about our upcoming events and announcements, sign up for our Seminar mailing list, and read what clients are saying about us.

Why did you start Saper Law Offices?
I’ve always been a creative person with an entrepreneurial spirit. When I started Saper Law, I did my research and realized that there weren’t a lot of law firms handling cases for the up and coming rock star, or the new fashion designer, or the start up tech company. Most established law firms were either too big to service businesses in the incubation stage or simply didn’t have the necessary expertise in new media and intellectual property law. Saper Law was born to fulfill that need and has flourished doing just that.

What is the best thing about working at Saper Law?
I am proud of the culture I have created for my firm. We don’t work in stiff corporate offices, wear buttoned up suits, or hide behind a hierarchy of secretaries and support staff. We are accessible and that means clients become friends and vice versa. On any given night I am invited to gallery openings, movie premiers, or new business launches. These activities, in turn, inspire me to be a more creative business owner. Over the last five years, Saper Law has built a reputation for being the law firm for “creative entrepreneurs and innovative business organizations.” You can read about all our awards and acknowledgements at

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?
Individuals best suited to work at start ups are those who understand that building a company requires creativity, perseverance, and most importantly patience. Being a leader and a team player doesn’t hurt, and neither does mastering the art of delegating and bartering.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mark Achler - redbox

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing
Mark Achler - VP Redbox

Name: Mark Achler
Company: Redbox
Role: VP

What is redbox?
Redbox is a national network of over 20,000 kiosks located in prominent retail stores (like Walmart, Walgreen's, McDonald's, most grocery stores) that rent DVD movies for $1 per night.

Why did you start redbox?
Gee, I wish I did. Actually Gregg Kaplan was the original founder of the company while he was in strategic development at McDonalds.

What is the best thing about working at redbox?
Redbox is completely disrupting the movie industry. It's growing at over 50% year over year. But most importantly our customers love us. We bring a lot of joy into people's lives each and every day.

What kind of people are best suited to work at startups?
Well, you have to be a little crazy. I look for passion, great communication skills, street smarts, integrity and a little bit of fearlessness and comfort with flying without a safety net. Did I mention passion?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Elizabeth Kole - The PaperDoll Store

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing

Elizabeth Kole - founder of The PaperDoll Store.

Elizabeth Kole
The PaperDoll Store
Founder & CEO

What is The PaperDoll Store?

The PaperDoll Store is a Chicago-based personalized stationery and invitation company. We create stationery, invitations, and personalized gifts for women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. We are currently selling our products directly online at, as well as through vendors nationwide such as Babies R Us and Costco.

We celebrate the ability to customize figure and fashion by giving our customers the choice to participate in the magical creation of their product. Any of our illustrations can be placed on stationery, invitations, notepads...etc.

Why did you start The PaperDoll Store?
I started my company through my thesis at Boston University. The PaperDoll Store was built on my ideas about the customization of figure and fashion. My idea for an invitation and stationery company where people can customize their own products by using my illustrations materialized into The PaperDoll Store.

As a strong-minded Chicago gal- I was determined to directly turn my masters program into a vehicle for success. I am proud to be the founder of The PaperDoll Store because it is something that I created and something that I really believe in. Designed by a woman and run by a woman—we strive to empower all different types of women through fashion.

I noticed that in the stationery and invitation world, there were very few, if any, products geared towards women that were not Caucasian. This, as we know, is not a fair representation of our society. These designers and store-owners needed to get with the times!

Not only did I want to start-up a company that was fun and interactive for the consumer, I wanted to start something that MEANT something.

What is the best thing about working at The PaperDoll Store?
I have the freedom to do what I do best---be creative!

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?
It has to be the type of person who is not afraid to get their hands dirty. When working at a start-up you have to be familiar with every process of the company, whether you enjoy the task at hand or not! It takes people with patience and perseverance - who can withstand the stresses that come along with starting a new company. With that said--working at a startup can be one of the most fulfilling jobs there are. You get the chance to really see what it takes to grow a company from the bottom-up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aashish Dalal - ParkWhiz

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Aashish Dalal founder of ParkWhiz.

Name: Aashish Dalal
Company: ParkWhiz
Role: Founder & CEO

What is ParkWhiz?
ParkWhiz is a web-based service helping consumers find the closest, available parking to them, whether it’s a parking garage, surface lot, or a person renting out their driveway. The service is free for buyers to browse or search and free for facility owners to list their available parking. When a space is reserved via ParkWhiz we collect a small commission on the sale. The majority of our reservations are for airport, sporting, concert and theater venue parking.

Why did you start ParkWhiz?
From a company perspective, we saw parking as a lucrative, but very inefficient industry, similar to the airline industry of 30 years ago. From a personal perspective, the excitement of starting a company meshed with my personality.

What is the best thing about working at ParkWhiz?
The best part is being able to make decisions that can influence the shape, culture, and direction of our company and, to an extent, an industry for years to come. If we screw up, we're agile enough to recover. If we make the right choice, it's extremely gratifying.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?
Anyone who is committed to make the leap and sacrifice. Like any goal, a startup requires perseverence, patience for all the do-overs you'll make from incorrect assumptions, and discipline. If you're willing to be a team player, understand the long term vision of what you've staked out and wear the many hats that may be required of you, the odds of success and happiness will slowly tilt in your favor.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ajay Goel - JangoMail

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Ajay Goel founder of JangoMail.

Name: Ajay Goel
Company: JangoMail
Role: Founder & CEO

What is JangoMail?
JangoMail is a software-as-a-service email marketing platform. The service is comprised of a web interface, an interoperable web service, and an SMTP relay. It can be used to send email marketing campaigns and single-recipient transactional emails.

Why did you start JangoMail?
I started JangoMail because I wanted to see if I could develop a web-based product that would generate revenues from monthly fees as opposed to what I had been doing, which was contract software development going from project to project, sometimes not knowing when or if the next project was coming.

What is the best thing about working at JangoMail?
For me the most exciting aspect of running this company is doing things that email companies have never done before. JangoMail has been a first in many areas of email technology, like developing the world's first SMTP relay service with tracking capabilities, and developing the first Silver-light based survey system, and developing the first web-based email tool that reads directly from desktop databases. There are lots of email service providers on the market, but knowing that I'm always doing something different keeps it interesting, exciting, and entrepreneurial.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?
People that are multi-talented. At JangoMail, nobody is just a "secretary" or "programmer" or "support technician". Everyone is talented across multiple disciplines and is expected to contribute beyond their initial job description.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pete Kadens - Socore Energy

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Pete Kadens founder of Socore Energy

Name: Pete Kadens
Company: Socore Energy
Role: Founder & CEO

What is Socore Energy?
SoCore Energy is an innovative solar power (PV) developer and integrator. The company arranges the installation and service of solar power facilities on commercial and municipal rooftops using its own proprietary, portable and non-penetrating racking solution in conjunction with solar panels sourced from virtually any high quality solar panel OEM. SoCore identified a void of economically and strategically viable solar financing offerings in the market, and as such is the first to leverage system portability to bring a Solar Rental Service (SRS) to commercial users. For the first time, commercial users can rent solar to power their facilities for a six to ten year term commitment, and save money in every year of the contract. SoCore can provide this Solar Rental Service (SRS) in any state, but the economics are are most favorable to the commercial user in the states of NJ, MA, OH, CO, NY and potentially IL.

Why did you start Socore Energy?
I started SoCore Energy because I wanted to build a company I could tell my grandchildren about. I call this “Legacy Creation”. I order to create a legacy you have to change the world. Finding better and more affordable ways to bring renewable energy, specifically solar energy, to the masses is certainly a business that has the capacity to change the world.

What is the best thing about working at Socore Energy?
The people and the opportunity. The people I get to work with every day are some of the smartest, most dynamic folks I’ve ever encountered. I am so fortunate to have the chance to work with people who stimulate and challenge me. Similarly, I am fortunate to have found an industry where the opportunity for growth is unparalleled. Today less than 1% of roofs in America have solar on them, but in ten years expectations are that 60% of the homes and businesses in the US will have some solar powering their facility. This is preposterous growth and solving the puzzle that will allow for efficient proliferation of solar over the next ten years is both a huge and exciting opportunity, and a puzzle that is challenging to solve. I love challenges!

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?
You have to love living on the brink. This is what gets me up in the morning. Every day when you walk in the door to that office you have to be totally energized by the fact that you are either on the brink of colossal failure or tremendous success. If that scares you, you should not work for a start up. In addition, you cannot sweat the small stuff. The type of people that I’ve seen succeed at my two startups are the ones who understand the nature of the startup beast and they don’t get too caught up in the minutia that may impact someone’s job at a larger corporation. You have to be able to have a laser focus on the aligned vision of the company and be willing to sacrifice just about anything to achieve that vision. Everything else….just doesn’t matter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mike Evans - Grub Hub

Today Gigs at Startups is interviewing Mike Evans founder of Grub Hub

Name: Mike Evans
Company: Grub Hub
Role: Founder & CEO

What is Grub Hub?
GrubHub is a place for people to come and find every restaurant that delivers to them. @home diners can order by phone or online. Ordering through GrubHub is very convienient and using our service is free.

Why did you start Grub Hub?
I saw a great opportunity to fix something that was broken. Searching for restaurants that deliver to your address was extremely difficult before we came along. It was also not an easy process. We've been able to solve some real problems and provide a great service to a lot of people. I really wanted to leave the traditional corporate world and move into solving problems for people directly.

What is the best thing about working at Grub Hub?
I get to work with some really talented people. They challenge me and force me to improve to remain relevant. GrubHub is also doing really well in terms of the number of @home diners that really love us and use our service regularly. Its fantastic being a part of that.

What kind of people do you think are best suited to work at startups?
It sort of depends on the size of the startup. At first, its all about being able to do everything well. Over time, the ability to prioritize and sgement out work becomes more and more important. I think the most valuable thing is adaptability and a willingness to do hard work and be recognized and rewarded for that. If you find yourself ever saying "that isn't in my job description" or "that wasn't in writing" you will be absolutely miserable at a startup.