Posted on 4/4/2013. Interview by Howie Rhee
Tell us about yourselves
Amy Vaduthalakuzhy '13 is the Marketing lead and mobile app developer for Jobbertunity. Amy has an engineering background, having studied Electrical Engineering during her undergrad at Georgia Tech. Prior to attending Duke's Fuqua School of Business, she worked at a defense research lab at Johns Hopkins, where she helped to take emerging technologies to commercially feasible applications.
Tell us about your time at Duke, what were you involved in?
Ameya has been involved in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club and the High Tech Club at Fuqua. Ameya is passionate about cricket and has been able to stay engaged in this passion through the Cricket Club.
Amy has been involved in the General Management Club and the International Business Club at Fuqua. Amy also participated in a semester long consulting project for a mobile banking company in South Africa.
What's your major/program and when will you be graduating? Tell us something about your educational experience at Duke.
We are both second year MBA students at Duke, and we'll graduate this May. We have been part of the Program For Entrepreneurs (P4E) while at Fuqua, which has really helped us conceptualize our idea, and formalize our approach in making it a reality.
Tell us about your idea.
Jobbertunity (http://www.jobbertunity.com) aims to take the stress and uncertainty out of the job search process by taking care of housekeeping tasks, so that job seekers can focus on the more important things. Think of it as your own personal assistant for all things related to job search! From identifying and discovering new companies to keeping a track of contacts and jobs, Jobbertunity provides a one-stop location where job seekers can manage their target companies, contacts, notes, tasks, reminders and interview preparation materials. By integrating with existing tools that job seekers already use such as LinkedIn and indeed.com, we make it easy for our users to get organized and land their dream jobs.
How did you come up with your idea? When did you come up with it?
The idea for Jobbertunity was born out of our personal pains while searching for an internship last year. We could not find a solution other than yet another excel template to help us organize all our job search related information. As schoolwork piled up, the overwhelming amount of information we painstakingly collected through company presentations, networking nights and career fairs soon got misplaced or lost without appropriate follow-ups. We desperately wanted an easy-to-use platform to manage our company notes, contacts and job information. Talking to fellow students through focus groups and initial market research surveys indicated that this was a real problem, and we decided to use our programming background to find a solution that is easy and accessible to use.
How did you meet your team members?
We met at the beginning of business school (we were in the same section). We started out as friends, and knew that we work really well together. We have very complementary skillsets, both from technical as well as business perspectives.
How has the Duke Start-Up Challenge been helpful to you?
The feedback from the judges has been immensely helpful. Especially after competing in the early deadline, we got to connect with several judges who gave us great advice and got us connected to more mentors. The deliverables for the different rounds also forced us to think in a structured approach and figure out the gaps that we need to fill.
The Duke Start-Up Challenge provides a lot of feedback from over 100 judges. Can you talk about that experience of reviewing the feedback?
The feedback was the best part of the Duke Startup Challenge! After each round, we went through each of the comments and figured out how they applied to our current state, and how we can fill some of the holes that the judges identified. This was great for iterating our deliverables for the next round, but more importantly, it made us think through our weaknesses that we hadn't thought of before.
Did you connect with any judges for advice, and if so, who were they and was it helpful?
Yes, we connected with a few. A huge thank you to Adam Elboim, Maya Salwen and Chandra Jacobs!
What advice do you have for Duke students that are thinking of starting a company?
Read everything about lean startup methodologies before starting to implement a solution. A lot of entrepreneurs focus on designing and building the solution before they have really understood the real customer needs and product market fit - which can be detrimental and lead to a lot of wasted time and resources. Coming up with quick and dirty ways to test your hypotheses is a great way to do this. Some books that we recommend: The Startup Owner's Manual by Steve Blank, Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Running Lean by Ash Maurya and Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder.
Anything else you’d like to say?
A big thanks to the organizers of the Duke Startup Challenge for giving us this opportunity! We have learned a lot from this experience, and hope to participate in some capacity as alumni.
Want more? Watch the videos and read the other interviews for all of the Round 3 teams in the Duke Start-Up Challenge
And join us for the Grand Finale with David Cummings ’02 for the 14th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge on Thursday, April 11th, 2013 at 7:30pm ET at Fuqua’s Geneen Auditorium. RSVP on Facebook
Not able to attend in person? Watch the livestream on Duke’s YouTube channel.