While searching jobs boards to find what she wanted to do with her life, Kathryn Minshew found it, but it wasn’t a job. Kathryn is founder and CEO of The Muse, a career website which she describes as, “The place people come to figure out what they want to do with their life.” Kathryn identified what was missing in the career site niche and set out to make The Muse a reality.
Career and job related websites are nothing new. Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com have been around since the late 1990’s, so what sets The Muse apart?
“One of the biggest problems I’ve seen with career sites is a lot of sites are really boring. They might be effective, but they’re not any fun to use.” The Muse has created a community that focuses on inspiration and helping young and old professionals in their current profession and future ones. The site averages a million visits a month. The job market and the opportunities available when it comes to career choices have changed dramatically in the past decade, but for the most part, career websites haven’t. The Muse has taken advantage of this and has captured a significant piece of the market through offering an “end to end experience.”
Kathryn Minshew has always displayed traits of being entrepreneurial, she just didn’t know it. She had started a nonprofit and was working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. The idea of being an entrepreneur really started to develop after a close friend started a gourmet ketchup company. “I remember thinking…If he can do it, I wonder if I can do it too.”
After deciding to pursue her idea for The Muse, Kathryn easily secured millions of dollars, became an instant success and lived happily ever after Kathryn struggled to get others to believe in her idea as much as the founding team, which consisted of her and a couple of best friends. “In our first couple months, I pitched 150 investors. 148 said no, 2 said yes, but they only wanted to invest until (other investors joined) in the round.” Instead of using her dwindling checking account as a crutch, she used it to her advantage.
Kathryn only had $5,000 left to her name and said that they were “living on fumes.” “We got really good at getting things we needed without spending a lot of money on them. We did some incredibly creative swaps – figured out how to do more with less. We came up with some of our best ideas because we couldn’t just buy the solution.”
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for someone under the age of 30?
A: “I think your 20’s are a great time for exploration, for discovering new skills or interests and then testing out whether they relate to something you might want to do with the rest of your life.”
It’s safe to say that Kathryn has benefited from following her passion and acting on a business idea that came out of a significant pain with a dedicated customer base tired of the same old job boards just as she was.
– How to protect your business: “Your people and your legal infrastructure are critical in protecting your business.”
– “It’s completely okay for something to fail; you just have to learn from it.”
– Why it’s important to seek out mentors: “If you’ve got to learn every lesson through your own trial and error – that’s a lot of errors between you and success.”
– Personal life goal: “I would love to write a book. Haven’t started yet, but excited about it.”
– “It’s really hard to know what your passions going to be until you try something. And I think every time you try something and it’s not all it was cracked up to be, that’s great! You just learned something about yourself and that field that’s really valuable.”
– How predictive job searches are trending, and we have only “scratched the surface.”
This interview was originally published on Under30CEO as a part of the Young Entrepreneur Interview Series Sponsored by Hiscox Small Business Insurance.