(MoneyWatch) Love bargains? Charlie Graham certainly does. But he wanted a better way to hunt them down. So he founded Shop It To Me, a free website that lets users track discounts -- specially tailored to their size, style, and preferences -- at more than 150 retailers. Graham spoke with The Startup to share his secrets for finding the best deals and building a technology company that lasts.
Rebecca Jarvis: What were you doing before you started your company?
Charlie Graham: I started it while a student at Harvard Business School. Previous to that I had founded Hipbone, an enterprise-level chat and co-browsing solution for Fortune 500 companies.
RJ: How long did it take to turn your idea into a business?
CG: Started working on it in 2004 and took about a year of building and tweaking the idea before launching.
RJ: What's your No. 1 piece of advice to entrepreneurs?
CG: Be persistent. Starting a company is a complete emotional roller-coaster. You'll have some great days and terrible days. If you can stay focused and persistent through the negative days, you'll make your own luck and find great days ahead of you.
RJ: Are you hiring? How do you get hired by a startup?
CG: We are always hiring great talent! We have a number of current positions available at www.shopittome.com/jobs.
Startups in general look for scrappy, quick-on-their-feet people who have a passion for the product they are building.
If you want to be hired:
1) Show a passion for the company's product. Startups want people who really believe in their product and want it to succeed. While you'll have some amazing days -- startups can be an emotional roller coaster with high highs and low lows -- it's absolutely necessary to believe in the product and the vision of the company to get through the tough times, as much as it is feel a sense of accomplishment at the major milestones.
2) Be willing to do anything. In particularly a small startup, everyone does a little bit of everything. They are generally just too small to have a hierarchy So don't come in saying you don't want to get your hands dirty. The people who thrive in a startup are willing to do anything to help make the company succeed.
3) Find a connection. The best way to get into a startup is via a personal connection. Most startups don't have a ton of money to spend on recruiting or massive job-board postings. And they don't have a ton of time or money to screen candidates, so their first hires are often from referrals. So the best thing is to find someone in your network who can introduce you to someone at the company. Ask friends, family, members -- anyone you know and find a connection to a startup you love.
4) Find a startup meet-up near you and network. There are now meetups and happy hours for startups in almost every major metropolitan area there are now. Google "startup events near XXX" to find some and then attend a few. It's a great way to meet connections, and there might be a great startup near you that you don't even know about.
5) Don't expect training.
For more on Shop It To Me, visit their website.