An entrepreneur has to be one of the coolest jobs out there, but it also has to be one of the most frustrating. And today's leading lady, Liz Carlson, the founder and CEO of InTheDoor.com, will tell you that firsthand. Just last October, Liz started working with two others on her passion — creating a website that leveraged a person's Facebook connections to help them find an "in" at their dream company. Liz first came up with the site after growing frustrated that she was turning in online job application after online job application, only to be rejected not by a person but by … a computer! In the meantime, her friend landed a job a Google as a result of a recommendation from a mutual friend. This got Liz thinking that there had to be a better way to leverage these connections.
Now, she runs the site that received more than 5,000 hits in just 24 hours, and in a matter of a week has been interviewed by everyone from Mashable to U.S. News. But don't think success came easily. Liz had a quality vital to any entrepreneur; She was resourceful. She crowdsourced her logo on 99 Designs, worked out of a Starbucks, and even sold her furniture and slept on an IKEA mat to make her dream come true.
If you had the choice to go to a networking function with rich VCs and entrepreneurs, or a house party of nerds, do the latter.
How did you discover your current job?
I majored in economics. I applied to be a PR intern and was told I was "unqualified" because I did not major in communications. One year later my company was a top-trending story in Mashable. Executives know that the best people are capable of learning on the job, and the current recruiting filtering process puts too much emphasis on the resume versus the person. My site acknowledges that, as your friends are the ones who know you best and can more accurately access your potential.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Positive feedback from users saying that they like our product. When you put all you have into something, it's very rewarding to hear.
What is the most challenging part?
Each day is a roller coaster ride, and you don't have the answers in front of you. No matter what happens, you have to be resilient and fight through it to make your dream happen.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
There is an idea that women have it easier. The reality is that the startup world is an inner boys club. You're fighting against the impression that you use your looks to get your way. Which is funny, because I've seen attractive male peers of mine flirt their way into the liking of female tech bloggers. Women are very sensitive to product and user experience -- but men are promoted in this field much faster. Even though, as women, we are excellent communicators and connectors, almost all Biz Dev professionals are men.
Who are your role models?
Marie Forleo author of "Rich, Happy, and Hot," who gives talks to inspire other female entrepreneuers. One piece of advice she gives women is to never say, "Who am I to do this?" but instead, "Why the hell not me?"
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
1 / If you had the choice to go to a networking function with rich VCs and entrepreneurs, or a house party of nerds, do the latter. The people at these networking events most likely are trying to promote themselves or scout the competition.
2 / Never date an entrepreneur. The tech scene is a small world if things don't work out. Be that person who has qualities you so desire, and make it happen with your own authenticity.
3 / Don't be "ethical" just to claim moral superiority. Be ethical if it helps your business. You have to be willing to fight dirty, break rules and cut corners. If doing so helps you deliver happier customers, that's great. You can sell them on your excellent customer service, but you can't sell them on "following the rules."
4 / Don't overpromise or try to please everyone. Be up front and learn to say "no" or "not yet." Be clear to others about your priorities, and they will respect you more.
What do you think are some of the traits that are important to hone for those thinking of paving their own path?
Resilience. Shit will be tough, you will cry. A good quote once I heard, "Don't cry to give up, cry to keep going."
Where do you see yourself in five years?
The time I spend ignoring my friends today to make my dreams for tomorrow happen, is time I will be spending on a boat with them later. I will most likely still be working my butt off in five years, trying to create value and make an impact.