Startuplifers On Demand, a bumpy road to startup life

Hi! my name is Sifo Luo, recent graduate from Aalto University School of Business. I’m currently a part of Startuplifers program and doing my marketing internship at Xvolve.
This is a story of how I got here. Right after my ME310 project ended in June, I decided to stay in San Francisco and to experience the startup life in the hub. It definitely wasn’t the best time to find an internship. But with my strong will and a little strategy, I made it happen.
Introducing AngelList – the magic matchmaker
Many know there’s this site called Angel List, but not many know how to use it as an efficient job-hunting tool. I spent less than an hour to set up my Angel profile and with simple filtering of job type, location, and roles, I got a list of companies that were currently looking for, in my case, business development & marketing & product management interns. Then all I had to do was to find startups that interested me and click the secret button “Yes, I’m Interested”. If your favorite companies are also interested in you, both of you will get an intro email. My matchmaking rate was 19%. Compared with the 7% success rate of cold calls, this result is much comforting.
Spend all your effort to answer the question “Why are you interested in our company”
I’ve been wearing HR Hat for two weeks and I found out that out of 200 interviewees, less than 1% could give a satisfying answer to this question. The mere “I like startups” doesn’t work in San Francisco. Here, startups, like as much as your girlfriend would like to ask you “so..why me?” Many people either strengthen repetitively “I…I…I…” or think “why bother? I don’t know s**t about your company before I start working there”. Well, startups like attention, like to be understood, like to be your unique one.
“Have you tried our product?” – The second most important question
All companies I interviewed with asked this question. Once, I went to a coffee chat interview with the CEO of a car reviewing startup. I had read all their blog posts, searched out all news about the company, and browsed their website more than 10 times beforehand.

Did you sign up?” The CEO’s questions made me suddenly become speechless.

Startups ask this question for two reasons:
a) to find out what your skill & potential are, based on your feedback about their product. By asking “what do you think of our product”, the company wants to see if you can find out things they haven’t thought about, if you can come up with strategies they are also working on, and if you have solutions to overcome their current challenges.
b) to see how dedicated you are towards the company. What if the startup is at such an early stage that even their beta version is not launched yet? Well, if you spend as much effort to research the company as to stalk your ex, you’ll get enough details. Startups favor those who care.
If you decide to choose Startuplifers On Demand, I suppose you really want, more than anyone else, to get to the world’s capital of startups and experience the heat. You’ll come across more difficulties than people who send applications directly through Startuplifers. But on the other hand, you are exposed to more options than others. I hope my tips can help you to get there. More importantly, stop hesitating, start trying.
Sifo Luo
Business intern in Xvolve


Sifo worked as a Startuplifers intern in spring 2013.

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