Chao Lam

Working on the next small things …

Applying for StartX

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We applied for Stanford’s StartX accelerator program and were fortunate enough to be shortlisted to the interview round. After not having had to be interviewed for over a decade, I was definitely rusty! Here’re a few thoughts more as notes for myself but maybe it’ll be helpful for future applicants as well:

  1. Answer to the intent of the question, don’t necessarily give the literal answer. In our pre-interview, we were prepped that we would be interrupted and possibly barraged with unexpected questions. Sure enough, one of the interviewers suddenly asked our cap table: What is the equity split between you three?
    Given what I knew of StartX, and how it was known for *not* asking for equity from its member companies and the collegial nature of Stanford, I was not expecting such a question and definitely had a deer in headlights moment.
    On reflection, I think I should have asked a clarify question such as “to better answer your question, could I ask why you would like to know our cap table at this stage?” I think that would have 1) allowed me to better answer to what the interviewer was looking for 2) given me more time to think on my feet!
  2. Keep a sense of humor. I think this is where my good friend John is trying to coach me. I want the interview to feel more like a collaboration, that they get so engaged in our project that they would like to be involved and help out. Being relaxed and having a sense of humor just makes the collaboration more fun!
  3. No matter how the interview goes, I think it’s a good idea to sum up the opportunity the way we see it in a succinct manner, perhaps something like: We’re have thousands of paying customers and are profitable, we’ve made good progress in becoming viral and ensuring free distribution. I think together we can figure out how we can scale this project to the next level of our strategy, in Chris Dixon’s words: “Come for the Tool, Stay for the Community”

Written by Pseudonymous

March 4, 2020 at 11:03 pm

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