vsnap

Legacy

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I took this photo outside the Apple store on Boylston Street the day after Steve Jobs passed away. It was a small start in the crazy string of tributes that happened across the nation that week. I’m not a total Apple fan girl. I do love my Mac, but I have an almost equal love for my Droid. I guess what really hit me about Steve’s passing was his legacy. The fact that people left these notes, apples, and flowers outside his stores across the world. 

I remember, as early as 4th grade, lying in bed and wondering how I’d make a difference in the world. It was never about being famous. I just wanted people to stumble onto my work or use something I built and say… Ya know, I forget the woman’s name, but she was incredibly hardworking and oozed passion. hah

I’ve been with my lil startup, Vsnap, for almost 6 months and we’re launching in a couple weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever cared/worked/obsessed over something more than I have with Vsnap. I didn’t build it, but as employee #2, I have been giving my constant feedback, doing website mockups, pitching and chatting with community, etc. When I’m not doing all of the above, I’m reading about other startups/businesses and tools to use to keep up. I feel like so many of the things I’ve gone through in the past few years have led to this job and this moment. Here’s to hard work and slowly chipping away to make my little dent in the world. 

What Is The Cost of Same?

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The cost of same is an idea that every member of the Startup Institute community can understand. Basically, it’s human nature to focus on the costs of change or disruption. Those costs are real. But what people tend to overlook are the equally real costs of staying on the path you’re already on. At Vsnap, the company I work for, this is what we call the cost of same.

The Startup Institute community can relate to this because we all had to encounter this idea when we decided to attend. It was hard to leave the path we were on. There were costs. The tuition, for example. Or the lost income from our current salary. Or the risk — what if I can’t find a job that lives up to my vision?

But those costs are only half of the picture. The other half comes from the costs of not embracing change. For me, if I had stayed where I was, the costs of same would have included:

  • Lost earning potential

  • Fewer future career opportunities

  • Not having the opportunity to be part of a rich startup ecosystem

  • A lack of professional guidance and mentorship

  • And more…

SI alumni can see the cost of same concept in the business patterns of the disruptive startups where we work. For most of us, our companies are encouraging clients to make some deep change. And we hear from those clients about the costs. But we need to help those clients recognize the costs of their existing solutions. Because it’s human nature to overlook the costs we’re already paying.

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It happened one tweet... (or, how I ended up staying in Boston)

My boss, Dave, always tells me that our memories change each time we recall them. That could be true and my memory might be going… but… tweets are forever. This is the story about how I got my job at Vsnap.

I first heard about the pay-it-forward networking event, Ruby Riot (nothing to do with Rails), from Jake Cacciapaglia (Runkeeper).

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Thanks to my incredibly supportive network, I had gotten enough gigs to get by after I left my job in January. Long story short, I had given my boss 2 months notice (that’s how I roll) because while I was mostly comfortable and it paid well, I didn’t see a future in it for me. Mid-May, freelance work was slowing down and I had promised myself that once I hit a big financial wall, I’d move back in with family in NY/NJ. On top of that, most of the freelance was social media/off-site and it seemed silly to live paycheck to paycheck just to pay rent. I had gotten a few offers for full-time gigs, but nothing I was head over heels about. 

I had kinda given up on finding my dream job in Boston, but I decided to go to Ruby Riot to say bye to friends. There were even some packed boxes in my room. Timing really is everything.

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The event was supposed to have 400+ attendees. I had been adding the hashtag #RubyRiot to my tweets and Dave had reached out to me from the Vsnap account, which only had a few tweets at the time and his picture was tiny. I didn’t even know his last name. All I knew was that he might have been friends with Chad O’Connor and had caught an episode of my web show with Lex Schroeder, Why Not Boston

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The line for Ruby Riot was LONG and I waited in the rain for 30+ minutes. TOTALLY not my thing. The sign (picture below) was a joke that made it into the real world (thanks Georgy for that last bit). Later on, I poked holes in the top of the sign, and used my headphones as string to hang it around my neck. heh

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Once inside the plan was to get a drink, say hi to a couple folks, then head out. Seeing my friend Jenny had checked in on Foursquare, I figured I should try to find her since I hadn’t seen her in forever. We ended up going upstairs and almost immediately I bumped into Chad and he introduced me to Dave. We got interrupted and I started chatting with someone else before I could figure out who he was. My friend Morgan First (Second Glass) then interrupted that conversation saying, “You should REALLY talk to Dave”. To be completely honest, the night’s events are a bit hazy. I may have had a drink or two. :) I do remember Dave taking out a cocktail napkin with a grid of asynchronous/synchronous video and telling me where he saw Vsnap fitting in. Who was this guy? :) 

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Dave sent me an email to meet up that Friday. I was under the impression that he wanted to chat about doing some freelance work or even just get my feedback on Vsnap sans drink in my hand. After all, I have been paid in pizza/beer for helping folks out with their beta (and totally welcome that) in the past. During our meeting, he offered me a job. Not out of nowhere, he had already talked to mutual friends and folks I had worked with (which I had no idea about at the time). I would be Vsnap’s first employee and he wasn’t quite sure what my title would be, but I’d be doing a little bit of everything. I told him I needed to think about it. Saying yes was a HUGE decision… 1) I had already told my family I was moving 2) taking a job at a startup is a BIG risk 3) my net worth was the equivalent to a few boxes of pasta 4) since Vsnap was just getting started, it’d just be me and Dave for awhile. I didn’t even research him before our meeting because I had no idea it’d be a job interview. (Put that in your notes, job-seekers… haha)

Despite all that… I had this gut feeling that I should take the job. Shout out to my friend Dan, for reminding me to keep that feeling on the top of the pile. 

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Dave got into MassChallenge a few days later. After working on some freelance with him and chatting with everyone that knew him, I was beginning to think I should take the leap. Then…

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Sometimes I forget that Twitter is public. haha So when Chad retweeted what I had said… 

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I figured I should probably tell Dave before the internet found out about my acceptance before he did…

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Then a few weeks later… 

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I could talk about what happened after that, but there’s no Twitter proof. ;) And here we are… it’s my kinda 6th month anniversary with Vsnap (depends on what constitutes a start date… heh). It’s been a CRAZY 6 months. Just because you find a job that makes you jump out of bed in the morning, doesn’t mean everything else will suddenly fall into place. But… I’ll save that for another post. :)

I will say that joining Vsnap has been one of the best decisions of my life. Thank you, Dave for this incredible opportunity and for keeping me in Boston. Another thanks to Matt Lauzon (Gemvara), Cort Johnson (Terrible Labs), and John Clark (Indivly) for organizing Ruby Riot! I’ve been trying to #PayItForward ever since, helping folks find work and giving out recommendations.

Here’s to people finding work they can be passionate about, the incredible Boston startup scene, and to people staying here in MA! More posts about startup life and job hunting to come. :) 

3 Reasons EverTrue is Awesome for Alumni Networking

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Cultivating a strong network is critical when it comes to building a successful, fulfilling career. Things move quickly in the digital age, today’s most coveted skillset may be obsolete tomorrow. Even if you manage to stay relevant by continuing to develop your skills and adapting your career plans as you progress, you will fail if you lack a network. As co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman states in his book, The Startup of You, “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing the game solo, you’ll always lose out to a team.”

For many, alumni networks can be the most valuable and underutilized networks we have. Your shared experience of attending the same the educational institution is powerful thread that ties you to thousands of professional contacts. At Startup Institute, we are building a powerful network of innovators, technologists, and startup enthusiasts— a network of individuals committed to helping one another navigate through (the sometimes turbulent waters of) their career. Making it easy for our alumni to connect and build relationships with one another is extremely important which is why we offer them EverTrue.

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Watch on 3daymug.tumblr.com

At the end of the #3DayTweepsCHI team dinner the night before the Chicago 3 Day, my teammates and I recorded a VSNAP video shout out to all of our friends and supporters who couldn’t be there with us!! We missed you guys so much!!