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As part of a road trip, Scott Annan and Scott Lake of Startupottawa are coming to Montreal this coming thursday, January 22nd to talk about a new method of open and collaborative development and Dex, their recently launched personal and social CRM system at Station C. The event was cozy and well-received. Dex, which launched a few days ago, sounds promising. Here are some pics of the evening:

dsc054491Scott Lake starting the presentation

dsc054571Scott Annan discussing Mercury Rising

dsc05460Dex in motion

Many thanks to Scott Lake and Scott Annan for having me over. Their next stop is NYC. All the best!

Plans change all the time. Learn how TalentEgg founder Lauren Friese’s early ambitions to become an actress marked the beginnings of her entrepreneurial adventures, the importance and impact of making well-informed decisions early in life, the amount of “homework” one can expect to put up with in order to startup on the right side, and much more!

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Allentrepreneur: Glad to have you here Lauren! Your start-up, TalentEgg, centers around finding the best entry-level job opportunities for students and recent graduates. Why choose this specific niche in the career portal market?

Lauren Friese: The idea for TalentEgg came from my own personal experience: I graduated from Queen’s with a degree in Economics in 2005 and had no idea how to make a successful transition into the workforce. I found that a lot of my friends were in the same boat.

Personally, I ended up in the U.K. at the London School of Economics, and after completing a master’s there, I had a completely different experience. There were several career related sites for people just like me- people with lots of education but not a lot of work experience.

I used one site in particular (milkround.com) to find a great job at a consulting firm I never would have found on campus and after 1 year working there, I decided to bring the milkround model back to Canada.

On a more general level, lots of students have a hard time navigating the job market with very little work experience under their belts. We aim to bring more transparency to this life experience/market and as such, help ease that key life transition from school to work.

Allentrepreneur: The transition from a learning to a working institution can be a harrowing one. A lot of young graduates out there are often more confused than they seem, but take up a job anyway for fear of lagging behind their peers or succumbing to pressure. Can you comment on the importance of taking the time to find one’s calling?

Lauren Friese: This is something I feel very passionately about. For most people, right after graduation is the best time to take the time to make the right choice about careers.

Without going into too much detail, the opportunity cost of your time right after graduation is usually much lower than the opportunity cost later in your life. Plus, taking the time to make good, well-informed decisions may end up saving you lots of money not only in the long term, but in the short term.

For example, lots of students decide to go to grad school just because they don’t think they can get a good job with a BA. Most people don’t consider that

a)     Sometimes a master’s can actually make the job search more difficult

b)    Investing in an un-paid internship/volunteer opportunity instead of a master’s can be a much greater (and cheaper!) investment.

Allentrepreneur: You recently wrote a post on how you became an entrepreneur: months of research, 45 iterations of a business plan, cold calls, etc. What are some of the most important things you’ve learned from the early stages of your start-up?

Lauren Friese: Tough question!

I definitely underestimated the amount of time it would take for the company to be profitable, though I think that’s fairly common.

I guess the most important thing I’d say I learned is to surround yourself with good people and great support. It may be cliché, but having a network of people that are smarter than you in all sorts of areas has been extremely helpful.

Running a business isn’t rocket science, but it’s certainly helpful to have an SEO expert in your network for when google is giving you a hard time, or a PR pro you can call when you have no idea how to get an article in the newspaper. I could go on.

Allentrepreneur: TalentEgg features such corporations as Kraft, Molson, Sunlife, etc. to name just a few. How do you work out the job/internship agreements you have with those companies and how do you stay competitive in the face of giants like Workopolis, Monster, etc.?

Lauren Friese: TalentEgg is a career site specifically for students and new grads that are looking for meaningful entry level roles.

In order to make sure we’re providing the best service to students, all of our agreements with employers are subscription based and all include unlimited (high-quality) job opportunities. Smaller companies or employers that aren’t hiring at the moment are encouraged to take advantage of free company profiles. The goal is to add transparency and access to this market, and so we try to remove barriers to participation for employers that can offer students/new-grads fantastic opportunities.

In terms of competing with the giants- we really don’t like to call TalentEgg a job board. We’re more like the evolution of a traditional campus career fair. The main differences between us and a campus career fair are

a)     Scale – we’re across the country and can offer students access to roles/employers from Toronto to New Brunswick to Nunavut to Vancouver

b)    Hours- being on the web, we’re open all the time. Students don’t work on traditional schedules- the information on TalentEgg is available when it’s convenient for our audience. 

Allentrepreneur: I talked about the lack of mentoring figures in Canada in a previous interview and how it was affecting many young, motivated, but clueless entrepreneurs. The same could absolutely be said of directionless graduates. In another post, you recount your experience taking advice from Rick Spence of the Financial Post. A fine mentoring opportunity. Would you care to give your opinion on the matter? How about adding a new section to Talent Egg for mentoring opportunities?

Lauren Friese: Mentoring is awesome and can come from many sources. I actually receive formal mentoring through my involvement with CYBF (Canadian Youth Business Foundation), which has been absolutely invaluable.

Aside from formal mentoring, I am lucky to be surrounded by lots of super-smart people who have been very generous with their time and knowledge (as I said previously).

In terms of adding this feature to TalentEgg- it’s a great idea. We have lots of features we’d love to role out- from a French site, to incorporating video, to dynamic, employer specific commenting/blogging. That being said, we’re very focussed on being the best at the specific task we’ve set out to achieve. Once we’re the best at that specific task, we can move on to conquering the world of online grad recruitment! 

Allentrepreneur: Incidentally, Rick Spence mentions you have an intricate explanation for your name. What does it signify?

Lauren Friese: To be honest, TalentEgg in and of itself doesn’t mean very much. It begins to make a bit more sense when you add in our slogan: Hatching grad careers.

Allentrepreneur: Here’s a fun fact on you: you initially set out to become an actress! In a short manifesto you wrote when you were 15, you said “If you are an actor with little to no experience, I highly recommend getting involved in anything you can find, you will learn a lot and have a ton of fun.” Sounds like timeless advice for an entrepreneur, let alone a recent grad. Do you still think this holds true today?

Lauren Friese: Absolutely!! Part of my experience in setting out to become a world-famous actress involved a part as a little boy in Macbeth (I was 15 at the time and had 2 lines), and starting a website for young actors (it was called BigDreamers.com!).

In a previous answer, I referred to doing volunteer work or unpaid internships as an alternative to grad school. The main idea is ‘get your hands dirty’…Immerse yourself in whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.

Allentrepreneur: Ideas are easy… execution is hard. Words to live by for any entrepreneur. Care to share one more?

Lauren Friese: Hmm. To quote the title of the book I’m finding most inspirational these days: “It’s not how good you are…It’s how good you want to be”- A.K.A ambition counts.

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