Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
For this week's founder spotlight, we'd like to introduce you to Caitlyn Ngu! She's the Founder and CEO of HireUp.
FcF: Tell us about yourself.
Caitlyn: I have a background in sales and marketing, and have worked for a number of tech companies in the city, including Wattpad and TopHat. I have a degree in French Studies from Glendon College (York University), and I've completed three programs at U of T's School of Continuing Studies (Strategic PR, Marketing Communications, Social Media & Web Writing). I also have a small consulting practice called Better Built Brands (betterbuiltbrands.com), helping small businesses with their strategic planning and brand development.
FcF: What isHireUp?
Caitlyn: HireUp is the first centralized database of video resumes. Job seekers can create a profile and upload their answers to standard interview questions. They can also receive interview questions from interested employers, and answer these questions at their earliest convenience. We block their current and past employers so they can search in peace. The hiring process is very broken and we're making it possible for job seekers to interview anytime, anywhere.
Caitlyn: A few years ago, I had a job that I hated at a company that was not a good fit. One day I was sitting at an event at Mars, and they started playing a promotional video that featured an acquaintance of mine. I kept thinking "If only she knew that I was looking for a new role. I wish I could pitch her on hiring me." In that moment, I decided to build a platform that allows people to share their stories and interview on their terms.
FcF: How did you meet your Co-Founder? What do you look for in finding your Co-Founders?
Caitlyn: I was a solofounder up until a few months ago. I handled the user research, PM'd the entire platform, closed strategic deals and garnered a fair bit of press. I got as far as I could as a solofounder, but most incubators and investors prefer to support teams.
HireUp is more than software- it's changing an archaic process. We want people to be able to share their stories and be happy in their place of work. My new team members care deeply about what we're trying to accomplish, and understand that it's bigger than us. If we can get it right, we might be able to change the way we hire and put more power in the hands of the people for years to come. I also look for people that want to knock it out of the park. A lot of employers hire incredible people, and then put restrictions on them or tell them to "stay in their lane". I want my team to see how fast they can run, not for the company necessarily, but for themselves. I want them to discover their utmost potential.
*Off the record...Fun fact: That's why I named the company HireUp. The UP actually stands for Utmost Potential.
FcF: What were the first few steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?
Caitlyn: In my first year, I focused on three things.
1. I spent a lot of time on user research to better understand the major pain points that job seekers and employers were experiencing.
2. I attended dozens of workshops, lectures and meetups to learn as much as I could about every possible topic I‰Ûªd be responsible for in the early years, including development, UX, startup law, marketing, growth hacking, finance and more.
3. I talked to entrepreneurs and read about entrepreneurship to fully understand what the road ahead might look like, and if I was willing to endure the ups and downs.
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Caitlyn: A lot of people like the idea of entrepreneurship, but it‰Ûªs not as glamorous as it seems. Everything is your fault, all the time. You‰Ûªll have to keep yourself motivated when things get tough. You‰Ûªll have to surrender your social life and weekends. You‰Ûªll have problems that most people won‰Ûªt be able to relate to. The list goes on. If you want to dip your toe into entrepreneurship, try completing a task (like writing a blog) for six weeks straight. Odds are 95% of people won‰Ûªt make it past the first few weeks. I‰Ûªm not trying to discourage anyone from starting a business, but I think a lot of people do it for the wrong reasons. My best advice? Be absolutely sure that your heart is in it. It‰Ûªs hard enough as it is, so if you‰Ûªre not committed, your odds of survival aren‰Ûªt great.
FcF: Is there anything you would like the Female CoFounder community to help you with?
Caitlyn: We've built our platform and we've secured some massive partnerships. We're raising a seed round to be able to execute on these partnerships. We're looking for angel investors or introductions to contacts at early-stage investment funds. We are also looking for employers that are looking to hire and job seekers that want to create a profile on our platform.
FcF: How can people connect with you?
Caitlyn: We encourage job seekers and employers to create a profile at www.hire-up.io We are in the process of onboarding a ton of new companies that are looking to fill some very exciting roles! If anyone would like to get in touch with me directly, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org