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#StartupInspiration: A CEO's 5 Lessons for Aspiring College Entrepreneurs

“If you’re like me though, get comfortable with a GPA that’s not as exciting..."

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Millennials have learnt that working hard doesn’t guarantee success anymore. Many of them are aspired to live out their dreams by becoming entrepreneurs at a young age. They are determined to break the traditional 9-to-5 office lives in order to go for a different kind of career success. 

The hustle, the ups and downs, and the thrills are not for everyone. But for some of them, it is far more exciting and rewarding to solve problems and fill market void by building something from scratch, and by offering innovative products and services. 

We are very excited to have Raphael Danilo, Co-Founder and CEO at Yobs Technologies, to share his startup journey with us as a college entrepreneur. To all young entrepreneurs out there, if you are always full of creative ideas, and are motivated to make tangible impact to consumers, read on to find out what Raphael has learnt from establishing a college startup!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Raphael, I’m a French college entrepreneur who lost his accent by hanging out in America a little too much in the past years. I currently work between Hong Kong and LA with our amazing team of data scientists and entrepreneurs at Yobs to cut the turnover of retail businesses in half with predictive hiring and machine learning.

What does your startup do?

We use applicant video and our own machine learning algorithms to match businesses with the top profiles in their pool of applicants and from our own community. So we’re streamlining the screening process of a reliable new employee, which can take up to a few weeks, down to a few minutes. We’re funded by a tight group of notable angel investors and retail industry executives and growing fast.

Lesson 1: Once you jump in that creative journey, it becomes hard to stop thinking about it 

“I have a ton of respect for established organizations, but there is a special energy in startups and particularly those working on the edge of their industries.”

Raphael’s startup passion ignites when his cofounder Federico Dubini and him saw a lot of flaws in the way HR works in the retail industry. That’s how they got obsessed with changing this old, massive industry. Eventually, there’s a time when that obsession spreads, a team is born and that shared interest turns into a product that folks will pay for.

He added, “I was a student when I started the company right? So in my case I’d say I draw the line when it becomes genuinely hard to focus in class or wherever because you just NEED to build that next feature, test last night’s code or jump on the phone with a customer. I think that’s a clue that you’re in a good mindset.”

Lesson 2: At the end of the day, it’s all UPSIDE to start your company in college. Seriously.

There’s a lot of experienced folks in every industry who can be very generous with their time when it comes to giving back, "I don’t buy that lacking a decade of experience is an obstacle to building meaningful products. Particularly in tech, I see a lot of that culture and it puts college entrepreneurs in a really favorable position to succeed."

Not to mention all the free stuff college entrepreneurs get: office space, funding, mentors, perks etc. Yobs even partnered with a Law professor at the University of Southern California to set up a corporation for free!

"It’s honestly borderline unfair to folks who aren’t on a college campus…Students get a super low burn rate, easy access to your first users and (hopefully) have a lot of humility and curiosity - all of which I think are crucial to get past the seed stage."

Lesson 3: The odds of success are not high enough if the business doesn’t come first 

It is true that students can be difficult to stay motivated academically if the value of school is limited to the degree itself. However, Raphael thinks that students really need to stay away from this attitude, especially considering the tremendous value you can get out of a college campus. If the money and time costs of academics outweigh the benefits of the campus, it makes reasonable sense to take a leave of absence or drop out. But in his case, a college campus is the perfect arena for their business so the decision was simple.

"The bottom line of keeping me motivated is priorities. My co-founder and I are the same in that we are brutally honest when it comes to that. That’s a big reason behind the efficient workflow him and I have. If at term the business doesn’t come first, I just don’t think the odds of success are high enough."


Lesson 4: The Drug-Vitamin Feature Dichotomy 

When asked about his opinion on resonating his startup ideas with customers and persuading them to adopt his products or services, Raphael said that their thesis around customer acquisition is very simple...

“If you build a product that customers need, they are drastically more likely to adopt it. It’s the drug-vitamin feature dichotomy: does this solution solve a major pain point for me or is it something I can easily live without?"

Retailers definitely are flooded with offers from all ends. The nice part is that a lot of it is crap. That’s why Raphael and his team prioritize building relationships and truly demonstrating the value-added/ ROI of their tech in their sales process. It makes it easier and transparent for their customers and it saves a lot of time when they can’t rely on a massive sales architecture like that of a large SaaS organization.

He added, Demos have been really helpful for us – it’s a simple, no BS way to get customers to get hands-on exposure to the product. Overselling is also a dangerous thing to do and I think patience is one of the few medicines for it. You can safely assume that failure to deliver on a big promise to a customer almost always leads to losing their trust and that sale. If I can’t get a live prototype in front of a customer, then I’m likely not ready to go to market.”

Lesson 5: Focus on aggressive execution, a lot of patience and brutal honesty around priorities.

Every entrepreneur’s journey is different, so one of the only advices that has held true across the board for him is that building a growing business in college comes down to aggressive execution, a lot of patience and brutal honesty around priorities. 

"Aggressive execution because it’s virtually impossible to come up with the perfect plan at first bat. Patience because it takes A LOT of time and effort for an idea to turn into paying customers. We’re talking months or even years. Finally, I say honesty because the baseline for most people is to meet only the minimum requirements – finding team members who share that #StartupPassion, meet a decent percentage of deadlines and don’t take themselves too seriously is really, really hard."

"But once the business grows and the team crystalizes, the momentum could not be more exciting. If you’re like me though, get comfortable with a GPA that’s not as exciting..."

Get in touch with Raphael Danilo, Co-Founder & CEO at Yobs Technologies.

About Yobs 

Yobs is a leading AI-enabled hiring software for hourly jobs. 

We offer an hourly job marketplace with a predictive hiring dashboard for businesses, built on the latest research in machine learning and assessment science. With our proprietary system, we help restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers hire cheaper and faster by matching the top 10 applicants from a large applicant pool. To make onboarding new talent seamless, our software includes a full suite of tools that automate time-consuming tasks from sourcing to onboarding paperwork. Students on Yobs find work that fits them in minutes thanks to our matching algorithms. We serve the hard workers, that's why it's free forever to get hired on Yobs!  

Yobs Technologies is a California Corporation based out of Los Angeles.

Find out more here!

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