The Muse co-founders Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos want to transform the tedious, often demoralizing process of job-hunting into something, well, less awful.
The two female entrepreneurs, both alums of management consulting firm McKinsey, have built an online community of more than 75 million people who can connect to employers and avail themselves of a range of tools to advance their careers. The company, founded in 2011, was born out of Minshew's personal frustration at the shortcomings of other job-search platforms.
"I was going on all of the job boards that everyone's familiar with, and it was such a frustrating experience. You type something in the search box and you'd get 5,732 results and they all looked exactly the same," she told CBS MoneyWatch.
Minshew thought a career site "that told better stories about the jobs" companies offer would attract more qualified candidates, as well as better match people's skills and interests with those positions.
The Muse aims to do just that. It seeks to provide job seekers with insight into a an employer's culture, including through employee testimonials, office photos and the latest company news. The site also offers free career advice, while for a fee (starting at $49) you can get one-on-one coaching sessions on topics such as negotiating a raise or promotion.
Believing in possibility
While these founders' own dilemma led to them building a successful startup, they acknowledge they are outliers, and that even securing funding was a long-shot. In 2012, they were admitted to Y Combinator's accelerator program and received $1.2 million in seed funding from the tech incubator and other sources.
Cavoulacos is upfront about the challenges of building a company from scratch. She warns aspiring entrepreneurs that most startups fail, underscoring how hard it is to convince potential investors that your company is an exception.
"I think investors saying 'yes' is a momentary lapse in judgment for any early-stage company, because most early-stage startups fail," she said. "So you need to figure out how to get people to that momentary lapse of judgment...because there are a hundred reasons why you might fail. You need to get them to believe in the one reason you might not."