The days before the launch of our business Barrel of Jobs reminds me of that feeling I had as a kid as I approach slowwwwly the top of a rollercoaster. Huge excitement for the ride, tempered by the growing fear of the unknown.
"If I seem in control I am probably going to slow," is one of my favorite quotes by racecar driver Mario Andretti. It describes well, our startup life.
The Barrel is now starting to roll! Here's a behind-the-scenes look at one of our big pitches this past Tuesday to investors to raise some capital to build the business and then off to DEMO 2012 conference today to officially launch our company!
COOLEY CAPITAL CALL
It's a Tuesday late morning and I am pacing in the hallway with my colleague Alison Pine and other entrepreneurs at Cooley Capital Call . The partition between two large conference rooms is pulled back and the room begins to fill with potential investors, awkwardly balancing La Prima brown boxed lunches in their laps.
I've got three minutes to present, that's it. An important business pitch to some of DC's most influential investors, and I will have all of 180 seconds.
I glance over and see another "pitcher," the dynamic CEO of Traffek. He is marching up and down the hallway reciting his talking points, his hand and arm gestures reminding me of my last visit to Parma in Northern Italy. Several others of us in the bullpen share a few inappropriate jokes to calm ourselves down.
Now we receive the news: we are going in alphabetical order. With a name like Barrel of Jobs, we're not going to be last. GOOD! I find out that we are second. I don't remember who went first, and suddenly there I am on stage:
"Hi my name is Julie Kantor, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Barrel of Jobs," I announce and, with that, I drop an oversized wood barrel down in front of the suited-up audience.
"This Barrel is ready to roll!" I continue, throwing caution to the wind. "We are crowdsourcing jobs and helping companies supercharge their existing employee referral programs using patent pending referral technology. With Barrel of Jobs you can help a friend... earn some money... and put America back to work."
I pause for dramatic effect as a wave of joy moves front and center and fears slide to the side like a wallflower at a party. I suddenly appreciate all the years of karaoke singing I did in my youth (okay, last week). I am a lot less nervous than I thought I would be.
I think of our traction so far as a business, as a Washington DC Tech Startup and fill with pride. There's Microsoft's social cause campaign featuring Barrel of Jobs in October to help Small and Mid-Size Businesses find great talent, our newfound friend Courtney who got hired at The Advisory Board Company through the www.barrelofjobs.com website, alliances with honors societies and key alumni associations, the 1400+ Jobs from premier companies already in the Barrel, our early Friends and Family Investors.
The irony of me personally standing up in front of investors for this first large pitch boosts my determination even further. Over the past 20 years I have trained thousands of children from ages 11- 19 to get up and present 8-and-a-half minute PowerPoint business plans to top investors with cash prizes. The youth were all from low-income communities and showing their plans to make money and exit poverty. I had to do a good job for all the kids and teachers I personally taught in Boston, DC, New Orleans, India. "Walk the Walk Julie. Walk the Talk," I mumble to myself. I survive and stumble to my seat, catching a breath then taking in some of the other great presentations.
There's Vinylmint , which enables people to record the same track real time from multiple locations and is also joining us at DEMO 2012. Distil seems to have some great traction to protect content stealing from your website and I make a mental note to connect with CEO Rami Essaidon Linked-in and to demo the PersonSpot beta site for making a personal social media magazine.
I am also intrigued by UmbaBox , a monthly subscription model for fine handmade items. A surprise gift in the mail every month, right up my alley! CrimePush Security Inc. is another one I want to follow up with and study. Their business model could literally save lives and enable us to email photos and evidence in a push of a button.
The presentations conclude and Katherine Ferguson, business development leader at Cooley and mistress of ceremonies, approaches me. She wants to know to which investors we are already speaking. She is beaming and makes a few key introductions on the spot. It is kind of like that first day of school again, when you find a new friend and she wants you to meet some other people. Thank you Katherine!
The session concludes and I walk back through Chinatown with Neal Lieberman, co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing. We rattle off the key connections we made and we must be quite a sight to see lugging around a real wooden barrel.
"Can I have one of those," says a man standing next to us at a red light chatting on his phone. Neal and I realize he is talking to us. I hand him one of our plastic monkey figurines from the barrel. "No, the flyer" he says. "I'm hiring." Neal responds "You can post your jobs for free and you only pay when you actually get a great hire." We smile as he walks away continuing his call.
Indeed the Barrel is Rolling and we are ready to DEMO in Silicon Valley this week!
Julie Kantor blogs weekly for Huffington Post Business on job search, workplace culture, careers, tech entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and more. Her latest articles can be found here.