Bizo, MoovWeb, and Sara Ellefsen

Today was a really long day! We visited three groups, all doing very different things.

This morning, we met with a company called Bizo. Bizo does B2B (business to business) Internet marketing. Their customers are other businesses who want to run advertising campaigns on the Internet. They had some interesting perspectives on their business, which is in many ways bigger than a startup but still a pretty small company, but the most interesting part of the conversation for me was in the interview and career advice they had near the end of our visit.

They emphasized that when they interview people, one of their primary concerns (beyond a minimum technical bar) is that the candidate matches their culture. I heard over and over, “is this [candidate] someone I would enjoy working with?” I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the way that Matt at VMWare talked about hiring. He was much more concerned about technical ability and problem solving; he said several times that he wanted to work with “the smartest people in the world.”

Brad (our professor) had an interesting perspective on that: the people at Bizo are doing interesting things, but they aren’t doing revolutionary or innovative computer science. They’re just “pushing bits around”. On the other hand, VMWare is obviously tackling some very difficult engineering problems. The ablilty of the candidate is much more important than their “culture fit.”

We met with some developers from a company called MoovWeb for lunch. MoovWeb’s service is one that allows businesses that have an existing complicated desktop web site to convert it to a mobile-friendly version with much less effort than simply re-writing the whole site. It was fun to get a chance to have some informal and in-depth technical discussions with the developers. They’re doing some cool stuff with dynamically regenerating sites using a server side architecture (written in Go, no less!)

The last meeting of the day was with a personal finance planner, Sara Ellefsen. Sara works with mostly individuals and families to help them plan and manage their investment portfolio. As a broke college student, it’s difficult for me to think about investing and financial planning, but she had some really good advice for how to approach saving and investing, and it was intriguing to see her approach to risk management.

Sara is certainly a (successful) entrepreneur, but of a very different philosophy than many of the startups we’ve been meeting with. She doesn’t have any employees, and isn’t particularly interested in expanding. She likes what she does, and doesn’t have grand visions of making millions and starting a global empire.