I’m John Gannon, founder of StartUpCareerAdvice.com.
If you want to hear about startup jobs and get career advice from startup leaders you’ve come to the right place!
Here are some frequently asked questions (and the answers) to help you get to know me and the site a little bit better.
FAQs (click to expand)
I’m glad you asked You can expect 2 things from this site:
Startup Job Posts
I’ll be aggregating job posts and making them available on various parts of the site. Also, by subscribing to the StartUpCareerAdvice.com email list, you’ll be sent startup job postings at least once per week. If you want to subscribe, simply fill in your email address below and click ‘Submit’.
If you subscribe, you’ll also immediately receive via email a copy of my eBook ‘15 Emails That Worked‘. In the book I share the actual emails I used during a recent job hunt to connect with hard-to-reach startup company execs and the VCs that funded them. I also break down each email so you come away with some best practices you can use to construct your own job hunting emails.
It goes without saying (although, here I go…) I will never share your email address without your permission and I definitely won’t spam you, either.
Startup Career Advice
As you browse the site, you’ll see that lots of content has been contributed by people I know and respect — startup leaders who have successful careers and want to share insights about their careers in order to help you succeed.
I also throw in my own two cents every now and again. I’ve been working in and around startups since 1999 in roles like:
- Manager of Consulting Services at VMware (joined in 2003 while it was still an independent VC backed company)
- Post-MBA investment professional at a venture capital firm investing in early stage tech startups
- 1st sales and marketing hire at VMTurbo, a VC backed enterprise software startup
- Business Development Manager at one of the leading providers of IaaS to the startup community and enterprises worldwide
As you might imagine, over the years in those roles I’ve picked up a few good career management and job hunting strategies, and I’ve also made my fair share of mistakes. I hope you can learn from my successes as well as my challenges, and benefit from some career advice that I’ve found useful over the last 13+ years.
My career in the tech world started during my junior year of high school when I bought a modem and started using BBSs and soon after, the internet via a UNIX shell account. I taught myself how to work in a UNIX environment and how to ‘surf’ the internet (which back then meant using something like Gopher – yup, I’m old with the tools available at the time. This was pre-web browser days, folks!
I came to know some of the folks at my local Internet Service Provider (ISP), called TIAC, where I rented my shell account, and that led to a summer internship with one of the first ISPs in Atlanta. My job? Customer support, sales, account setup and administration, and whatever else I could find that needed doing. It was just me and the 3 founders and I learned a lot about technology and myself that summer.
When I came home after the summer break to start my senior year of high school I took a job with the local ISP, which at the time was one of the biggest ISPs in the Northeast US with PoPs all over Massachusetts and the NY Metro area. I spent about 5 years there (through end of high school and during summers and breaks from college) working in a variety of roles including customer support and technical operations. If you needed anyone to edit DNS zone files or hack on an /etc/passwd file, I was definitely your man :) In college I kept at it, working in a bunch of tech related jobs at school and over the summer where I focused on system and network administration.
During my senior year of college when I was thinking about ‘what next’, I knew I wanted to do system administration work and fortunately I had the opportunity to join a couple of (at the time) high flying Internet consultancies of the day, Scient and Viant. I also had a more ‘stable’ career option available – go to Goldman Sachs and join their IT infrastructure organization. I chose Scient and was staffed on some great projects over the 2 years I was there, helping to plan, build, and operate large and complex web infrastructures for Chase Bank and Major League Baseball. Lots of Sun hardware, Oracle software, and working weekends in various data centers in Long Island and Staten Island.
I enjoyed working at Scient but as the economy trended downwards in 2001 and the company was downsizing, I saw the writing on the wall and started to look for a new role. Around that time, I happened to receive a call from one of my former colleagues who had just been hired as CTO to rebuild and relaunch FOXSports.com, one of the largest sports websites on the Internet. He needed someone to build the IT infrastructure and ops team. Sensing this was a great opportunity for me at this early stage of my career (pay to move me to sunny LA, give me a big raise, and let me manage a team of engineers = no brainer!) I subleased my apartment, packed up my stuff, and moved to LA for a couple of years. FOXSports.com was the first place where I had to hire and manage my own team while still maintaining lots of responsibility for doing technical work. While at FOXSports.com, I learned quite a bit about technology management and vendor management (and stress management!), but more importantly about how to manage and motivate people.
In your career, you’ll sometimes make decisions based on personal rather than professional reasons. My career is no exception to this rule. My girlfriend at the time (now my lovely wife and mother to my wonderful children) was accepted to graduate school in New York and so we needed to find a job that would get us back to New York.
While I was still in LA, I started searching for a new gig and stumbled upon a job (via the Scient alumni network) with a then little known startup software vendor — VMware. They needed someone to fly all over the US and Europe to help customers use their data center virtualization software. You needed to know UNIX, and you needed to like being on the road. Being about 25 at the time, it sounded like fun. I had no idea what kind of company VMware would become – I was just in the right place at the right time. Over the years I had the privilege of working with an awesome global team, many of whom have gone on to other startups or start their own. More importantly, this job helped me get over my fear of public speaking.
VMware was a rocketship ride and if I stayed I could have kept growing with the company, but I had always wanted to go back to school to pursue a graduate degree. After a lot of hard work and a grueling application and reapplication process, I was thrilled when I got the call (a day I will never forget) to attend Columbia Business School. I joined the Columbia’s January Term (J-term) program in 2007 (I blogged extensively about the Columbia J-term program here) and had an amazing 16 months of learning and networking while I worked extremely hard towards my goal of breaking into the venture capital industry. After graduation and a lot of sweat and tears, I received a couple of job offers, one with a fund-of-funds, and one with an early stage VC firm in NYC. I chose the latter and spent a year evaluating early stage IT and internet investment opportunities while also providing assistance to our portfolio companies with business development, fundraising, and marketing. I’ve documented many of the things I learned in that process via my Venture Capital Jobs and Careers page located on my personal blog as well as in the Venture Capital Careers eBook I wrote.
Unfortunately, the market crashed in late 2008, and for the next year it was not a great time to be in the VC business given the massive contraction going on in the economy and in the startup community. I was learning a lot and really enjoyed the work. However, it was clear to me that our firm (along with about 80% of the other VC firms in the US) was not going to be able to raise a new fund in that kind of economic climate, so I began to search for a new role.
One of the first emails I sent when I started looking for a new role was to a VC who had sponsored an independent study project that I conducted while in business school. It turned out he and another investor had just funded a team of experienced entrepreneurs to build a virtualization management platform with some heavy duty technology backing it up. They needed someone to come in as the first business hire to do whatever was needed to help acquire the first customers and get the product launched. I joined the company and spent the next year or so helping to acquire the first customers, build the inside sales team, and launch the product to the market.
After that, I moved over to a leading cloud computing provider and led business development efforts for their Big Data platform service. I worked closely with our sales teams and product teams to evangelize the service and our Big Data strategy to the market. And now I’m working for the same company, but within our advertising business where I am in a hybrid client analytics-product management role.
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