Earlywork #32: The Most Underrated Pathway Into Startups
Featuring roles from Cover Genius, Fast.co & Una Brands + a One Minute Hustle with Ashlee Stojanovski (Founder @ Telescope Ventures)
Howsit hangin’ Earlyworkers!
Baked fresh for you today is Earlywork #32, a careers newsletter providing free career resources, news, jobs & interviews for young Australians in the tech & startup landscape.
We’ve got an interesting take for our Weekly Cheeky Tip, but before we dive in, here’s a roundup of what’s happening in the Earlywork community…
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Weekly Cheeky Tip:
A few editions back, we covered the top 5 tech jobs for non-technical people, inclusive of one of the most exciting, unknown and underrated pathways into startups, customer success.
Now I know what you are all thinking….
The world of customer success has dramatically evolved in the last decade or so from a reactive function (typically “customer service”) to a proactive and strategic function that has become one of the most important roles in startups.
So how are they different? Let’s use a sporting analogy..
Think of the customer service team as the referee that is in charge of explaining the mechanics, rules and guidelines of the game.
Whereas the customer success team is the coach that teaches you how to think and manage the game strategy, helping you find opportunities and craft tactics to win.
The focus isn’t necessarily just on playing by the rules; it’s on the understanding of the nuances of the game, interactions with others and creating long-term winning game plans. Deep.
It’s also by all accounts a relatively non-competitive route into startups vs. some of the traditional buzzwordy strategy type roles:
Still not convinced?
Recurring thematic ideas across each of our conversations:
Customer success is the heartbeat of any startup and thus it makes you an integral part of the business.
The role is a dynamic and multi-functional, often needing to collaborate with various stakeholders and teams across the organisation in order to deliver value for the customer.
It is a really useful place to work out what other aspects of startups you like (and equally dislike) and subsequently use that as a platform to break into.
“Depending on the size and stage of the company, customer success can be a very diverse role. For me, it has included operations (which included creating ops processes), customer support (and finding ways to make this scalable) and managing social media to assist growth."
She also shared some insights into how it’s helped her think about future roles:
“The really valuable part of CS, is that it’s the touchpoint of all different functions of a business (be it product management, marketing/growth, engineering). It is a great opportunity to work with a range of people, especially if you’re trying to figure out what you’re interested in. Understanding what it takes to build a successful product that customers love is an invaluable skill to build. I hope to use this to dive deeper into product management and marketing”
“You get to be the voice of the customer and feed back insights that no one in sales, marketing, product or tech have access to. Customer success done right involves adding value to the whole ecosystem, helping to inform the product roadmap from feedback and research, providing marketing with new use cases, capturing testimonials for sales, and of course resolving technical issues with engineering to provide users with the best possible product in the most frictionless way.”
He then touched on opportunities that can arise after working in customer success:
“Besides for the many learnings one can gain in customer success, it sets you up to become a key and sought after employee within the organisation. It was exactly these activities that allowed me to add value to our product and build cases for features focused on solving real user problems that spur an incredible user experience.”
Lastly we chatted to Maddy and got an insight into what customer success looks like at an early stage startup:
A day in customer success would consist of meetings with multiple customers, learning about what they need or want from our platform, and putting together a plan of attack regarding how we could get there. By hearing where these relevant use cases were, I'd interact with many different teams (product, engineering, design) to understand what could already be achieved, what was on our roadmap for the near future, and what was wishful thinking. So for these new customers, I'd be trying to put together a plan for how our product can fulfil a goal (with the help of seniors). In addition, we'd also interact with customers who typically love the product, or aren't finding as much use in it. For the former, we'd try to find ways to expand their use; by getting new users within their organisation, or finding new use cases for the product. For the latter type of customer, we'd try to help find a stronger and better use case for your product, so that we could continue serving them.
She also shared some thoughts around the benefits of joining customer success, which ended up being the launchpad into strategy & ops:
“Experience with customer success: when new employees join a startup, they're typically told to 'know the product inside out.' Customer success is the perfect way to achieve this quintessential goal. Not only are you learning about your product in a hands-on environment, but you're learning about what your customers want and need out of the product. This is essentially what keeps a business afloat; as soon as customers have no need for your product, or you can't fulfil their needs, they will stop using it. By understanding what features are desired or required by customers, you have a pretty solid foundation for forming the future strategy for your business. In addition, you develop a better understanding of what is operationally needed to reach those goals within the business.”
🌏 Earlywork Community
📚 Trending Topics
Our favourite reads and resources being discussed in the Earlywork community.
The Best of Australia's Software Engineering Graduate Scene written by community member Rohyl Joshi.
Sequoia’s investment memo for YouTube (page 10 onwards) written when they had around 10k users, really interesting to read their thesis at the time.
Airwallex launched a VC Fund, paving the way for the next generation.
💼 Top Gigs
Some of our favourite roles shared in the community recently. Join here to access our job channels.
Customer Success @ Fast.co (Remote 🌍)
If you’re not already a member, hop on over to join in on discussions with other young Aussies in tech & startups, stay up to date with industry news & events, and find/share job opportunities.
1️⃣ 🕐 💪 One Minute Hustle
We are back once again with One Minute Hustle, a bite-sized interview with an emerging Australian young startup founder or operator. This week, let’s get inside the noggin of Ashlee Stojanovski.
Ashlee Stojanovski, Founder @ Telescope Ventures
What are you working on? Telescope Ventures! We’re a student-led venture studio dedicated to helping student founders transform their ideas into venture-backed startups. We run invite-only founder workshops, mentor matching initiatives, VC speed “dating” nights and that’s only the beginning… We’re rapidly expanding our network across Aussie campuses, so if this sounds interesting to you, reach out to me!
How did you get started? Social media was really crucial to building out Telescope. Through Reddit, I found my co-founder, Elton Wang. Through Linkedin, we found our early supporters (angels, advisors, partners). In fact, our first advisor, Darren Thayre (Head of Digital Transformations/Ventures @ Google) came from a simple Linkedin post. More recently, I’ve gotten hooked on twitter! If you can get past the chaos, it’s been an incredible platform to connect with VC and startup operators.
Why do you do what you do? Talking to student founders day in and day out, I see my peers are full of incredible talent and ambition. Being a part of that journey by providing a bridge to funding, drives me to continue growing Telescope.