Isak Wärnman is the newest Sila Nanotechnologies, Inc. team addition in Alameda, CA. He will start in the strategy team this summer, through the Staruplifers program. So let’s go back to the beginning of his journey, and look at how he managed to land a job in one of the most revolutionary tech startups while casually listening to the company’s CEO on a podcast. 

In the last weeks, the team met Isak for an emotional sendoff, and together we chatted about the incredible journey he is about to embark on with Startuplifers! “I found the genre of climate/environment podcasts highly interesting and, the US has been in my sight already for a while, I knew that I wanted to go there for work. I found the company Sila while listening to one of these podcasts and researching companies. I reached out to a few people at Sila – and one of them was willing to explore the possibility further. I was thrilled! ” – Isak shares. He holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Aalto University, and previously worked in business development for an industrial company, and more recently, in two different management consulting jobs. His previous work has focused on strategic and operational topics for industrial companies.

“My new position at Sila will in many ways be similar to the work I have done previously: the product is still a physical good, and the focus will now be honed in on strategy. However, two things are vastly different from anything I have experienced before: the early stage of the company, and the deep tech nature of the problem at hand. With this, my new job combines my core strengths in hardware strategy and operations, with my passion for energy technology. I believe this intersection of ability & interest is the exact zone to be in if you want to do great work.”

So, what made you apply for a job through Startuplifers? 

I applied through the on-demand program. I was aware of Startuplifers already a few years back, but never really did any research to confirm whether Startuplifers could help me in my situation. Instead, I focused on getting my dream job and assumed that Startuplifers would be able to help me out if I did so. I was not wrong. Once the process with my employer advanced, I contacted Startuplifers, and they facilitated my move to the US from that point on.

What are you excited about working at your current position?

Honestly, the real question is what does not excite me, and even that question is difficult to answer. For me, it is the holistic experience combining the opportunity to work with the world’s smartest minds, on an incredibly difficult problem, but with the opportunity to have an outsized impact if the company is successful.

On a personal level, this gives me the chance to learn from the best in the industry, but also actively play a part in shaping the future of the organization, especially so in my role, focusing on the long-term strategy of the company. All things considered, nothing excites me more than pouring myself into the work to help the company fulfill its mission.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about applying for a job through Startuplifers?

I suppose the easy answer is “just do it”, but I choose to counterposition slightly on this question. Of course, if you are at a more advanced stage in your career, where you can demonstrate your value through your previous work, then without a doubt, go ahead and apply.

However, the truth is, as a startup company with a desperate need for output, your preferred hire is someone with a proven track record who can deliver results from the get-go. I suggest you build a resume that matches this demand, and give them a favorable risk-reward ratio.

Ideally, you want to identify your objective of working for a startup at an early stage and set a longer-term plan for how to get there. My friends have heard me talk about my aspiration of working for a Silicon Valley startup for over two years now, and my work building up to this point has been a step-by-step process in the direction of my goal. When you have built your resume to the point where you believe you can provide a favorable risk-reward ratio to prospective employers, then it is time to apply. All you are really doing is increasing your surface area of luck. It is a game of probabilities.

Anything you want to say to our community?

There is currently a consensus that the job market is tough and that it is difficult to find jobs, especially so in Silicon Valley. This is not necessarily untrue, but there are exceptions. Two of these exceptions are energy and climate tech: both sectors are booming and are desperate for talent. If transitioning how we power our world or saving our planet sounds like challenges that motivate you, working in energy or climate tech is the most practical way to do so. There is a vast range of resources to learn more about both sectors, startups that operate in them, and possible job openings. I am happy to provide resources to anyone interested in moving into the sector.

We are incredibly inspired by Isak’s journey and can’t wait to see more of him in the future!

See you at the valley Isak.


Wondering where to start? Here are 3 things to do before applying to your dream startup.