Entrepreneur journal: Elena Bajic, Founder, Ivy Exec
TORONTO (Reuters) - Ivy Exec's exclusive nature makes it the country club of online job-posting and recruiting websites: in order to post your resume, you first need to be approved as a member. While industry leader Monster is fine for the masses, Ivy Exec proudly caters to high-profile professionals who want to standout from the crowd. The following is a personal five-day journal written by Ivy Exec founder Elena Bajic exclusively for Reuters.com on her work and life:
Day 1: Wednesday, August 12
Despite the fact that I have the flu and spent yesterday in bed not feeling well, this morning was an important one, so I put my best suit on and headed midtown for a meeting with a potential investor from Canada. It's great to meet with VC's who invest in the space, because they get the idea behind the business more easily and they usually ask good questions. I thought the meeting was very productive for two reasons: 1. the fund wants to continue the conversation with us and learn more about our business; 2. through our discussion, they pushed my thinking on a few aspects of the business and I came out of the meeting with at least two new initiatives for developing the business. We are continuously developing the value proposition of our business and every breakthrough is an important step in the right direction for us.
On the subway ride back to our downtown office, I caught up on emails. We have two big development projects going on; so when I get back to the office I will have to spend a few hours reviewing the work that has been done so far. Our developers are in Eastern Europe, so I only have a few more hours to communicate with them before they leave for the day.
After reviewing the work our programer has done, I am happy. The project is moving along well and on schedule (pleasant surprise)! Ever since we added another member to our tech team, we have been able to move forward with new developments at a good rate. A great part of being a start-up is that when you grow your team from five to six people, you just increased your productivity by 20 percent.
On that note, today is also important because Abigail Keis joined our team of resume reviewers. Abigail is outstanding; she spent many years working for NYU's Stern Executive MBA Career Services Office. Abigail has experience working with high level executives as well as recent MBA's. Her skills will be very valuable to our members.
Day 2: Thursday, August 13
The morning was off to a good start, I spoke with a contact I made last weekend at a brunch that was organized by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and we got a new client! Over the past six weeks, we have seen a significant pick up in business. Actually, August will be the first month that we are cash-flow positive since we added three more members to our team. For a start-up, monitoring cash flow is one of the most important metrics, and having positive cash flow months is a big milestone.
For lunch, I headed to a neighborhood restaurant to meet with Charlie O'Donnell, the founder and CEO of Path 101, another start-up in the online recruiting space. Path 101 is also raising capital so we shared our experiences and discussed various fundraising strategies.
When I returned to the office, I reviewed a list of PR firms that our intern had researched. I reach out to all of them to set up introductory calls. We want to identify the right PR firm and negotiate the terms of the engagement before October. By planning these initiatives now; we will be ready to hit the ground running when we close this round of financing.
As the early evening approached I am still left with a pile of answered emails. After dinner, I am back in work mode. It's a late night, but it's also really exciting to have so many things going on, all of which are helping the company move forward.
Day 3: Friday, August 14
I start off my morning reviewing a contract our attorneys sent over. We just started working with this law firm and are still getting used to their approach. It will take some tweaking before we are all on the same page, but sometimes that is what it takes before you have a productive relationship.
In the afternoon met with Sharon Sauli, our VP of Sales. We discuss our strategy for 2009 corporate contracts. Fall is the time when most companies allocate their next year's budgets, so it's very important for vendors such as Ivy Exec. We have a window of a few months where we can pre-sell our 2009 services.
In the late afternoon, as I am getting ready to wrap up the week, I get a call from a potential client on the West Coast. We talk for a while; I set him up with a demo account to try out our services. Later that evening, he replied that he likes what he sees and wants to make a purchase. I love my business because I can close a sale at 11pm on a Friday night!
Day 4: Monday, August 17
Over the weekend, we received confirmation that another investor will be putting in capital. This puts us at 35 percent completion of the round, only 8 weeks after we started our fundraising. Considering its August, the slowest month for fundraising, we are doing great.
Today, the entire team met to brainstorm new projects and initiatives. Our CTO, Richard Safran, was also in the office which is a great opportunity for all of us to catch up. Richard often works remotely from his apartment. Once we decide on new projects, he prefers to work from his home. This works fine since our programer and designer also work remotely from Eastern Europe. We have been able to organize ourselves well and despite the time difference, this set up is working for us.
After work I went out for dinner with colleagues and mutual friends who are visiting town. It's great to work with people who are also friends. The only thing to watch out for is not to talk about work all the time. When it's fun time, works stays behind.
Day 5: Tuesday, August 17
This morning, I spent a good chunk of my time on email; responding to inquiries, managing projects and following up with contacts. After this, I have a few calls scheduled back-to-back with clients and potential clients. One of our clients, in the renewable energy sector, just hired an Ivy Exec member and is delighted with the service. He gives us an excellent quote that we are happy to post on our website. It's always great when we get another success story; it validates what we are doing and makes the long hours worthwhile.
In the afternoon, I spent some time looking at our 2009 performance and re-visited our projections for the remainder of the year. After a rough start in the first quarter of 2009 (a result of the global downturn), we are now fully back on track. Our revenues are growing and so is our membership. We will have close to 35,000 members by the end of the year.
In the late afternoon, I review some product development work our programer has done. I write down comments and feedback, and send them over to make sure he has something to work with when he returns (which is 3 a.m. in New York).
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