CEO Sit Down: Kai Han on Cardea

A company that is interrupting the traditional job search process one job at a time.

Finding a job is tough. Finding a job in today’s economy is even tougher. Cardea‘s entrance into the job search space couldn’t have been better timed, with new job seekers, like myself, eager to seek new and exciting opportunities. Having used many different job searching platforms, I consider Cardea to be one of my favorites, as the website’s user experience is incredibly intuitive and simple. I am so happy to have gotten the chance to interview Kai, Cardea’s CEO and a budding entrepreneur, on his new business and hope that you sign up to access the site too!


Kai! Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Sure thing! I’m 22 years old, and recently graduated from the University of Oxford in June. I was born and raised in New York City, which unfortunately makes up about 55% of my entire personal identity. Besides my hometown, I also like talking about startups, sports, and anime.

What was the inspiration behind starting Cardea and tell us a little bit about the business?

I was looking for an internship last summer and found myself extremely frustrated with the process. I wanted to work in venture capital, and remember conducting an entire mini-research project just to find out where to apply. I often caught myself wishing that someone could just present me with a list of all the firms that were currently hiring interns in New York City. Talking to some of my friends, it seemed that everyone hated the process of finding the right places to apply to as well (particularly those who didn’t want to go the banking, big tech, consulting type of route).

Traditional job finding platforms really place the burden of discovery entirely on the user. You’re given a giant database of jobs and nothing but a search bar and some rudimentary filters to sift through all of those jobs. What ends up happening is an experience that feels extremely clunky, with low personalization and tons of irrelevant jobs being shown to users.

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Zooming out a bit, I’d say there are broadly two types of content platforms: Search (Amazon) and discovery (Spotify, Reddit, Twitter) based platforms. Search works really well when the user knows exactly what they’re looking for, whereas discovery is optimally suited when a user has a set of interests but doesn’t know the exact specific pieces of information they want. From that angle, jobs should really be discovery based, but they’ve been search products since Monster.com in the 90’s. We set out to build a jobs platform that prioritized highly curated discovery over anything else.

To do that, we curate Spotify-style “playlists” of jobs. These can center around anything, whether it’s something like “Fintech’s Top Startups”, “Breaking into Product Management” or even something like “Last minute internships for procrastinating students”. Users can explore our selection of playlists and follow the ones they like. Anytime a job is posted to one of their followed playlists it’s displayed in their stream tab, creating an intuitive and easy to navigate job finding experience. Once you’re set up with us, all you have  to do is occasionally check your stream, we’ll handle all the rest.

What do you believe the biggest challenge is in finding employment online?

I could write an entire essay on this question alone. There’s a lot of problems in a lot of different areas, but we’re focusing on the discoverability aspect of it. Studies have shown that over 40% of qualified applicants won’t apply to a job simply because they don’t ever see it. In this age of technologically connected societies, that’s a pretty jarring number.

How does Cardea stand out from competing platforms such as LinkedIn or Creatively?

At this current stage, we’re strictly focused on job discovery, rather than professional social networking. For both LinkedIn and Creatively, job search is a small part of their product, and it’s pretty easy to tell that from looking at their platforms (search bar, big database, low curation, bad filters). We think by directing our efforts to just one aspect of these types of larger horizontal platforms, we can deliver a superior experience that we can then be built further features off of.

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What has been one “high” and one “low” in starting Cardea?

Definitely a high was letting our first users onto the platform.  We’re still in the process of testing and building but that was the culmination of so much work and planning so that was a big moment. As far as lows, we initially had a solution for adding jobs to the platform that we quickly realized was impossible to scale, and that was definitely a tough pill to swallow. Thankfully, we were able to get our heads together and figure something out on the fly.

What are future goals or milestones you hope Cardea to achieve?

We’re viewing this next year as a “building” phase for us. We want to really build the best product possible without needing to rush that market. Thankfully we’ve generated enough user demand for us to continue to test and validate our ideas around. In that sense, I’d say our goals for the immediate future are making the people that do get access to our private beta extremely happy. To us, this looks like high engagement, high retention and positive word of mouth growth. While the initial signs have been encouraging, there’s a lot more we can do to get even better.

Cardea targets recent college graduates and junior level positions, why have you chosen this market?

It’s really a scaling issue. To handle the amount of content we’d need to pump out to service older candidates is something we can’t really do right now. That being said, I think the current model is well suited for anyone up until their 3rd or 4th job, at which point people are usually moving around strictly via word-of-mouth referral. We might actually be even better off for people a little later in their career, as they usually have slightly more market awareness and a better understanding of what they’re looking for in their next step. One thing I will say about the younger demographic is that our UX is something they’re extremely comfortable with. Our entire generation has become accustomed to the act of following niche content channels, then scrolling through a central feed that aggregates all of that content.

What features are you rolling out on the site in the near future that you are excited about?

We’re working on a lot of really exciting things. In the near term, we really want to beef up our core consumer offering. This means expanding into different industries, allowing users to favorite and save companies instead of just lists, bringing in a search aspect (that doesn’t take away from our core model), and revamping the entire design of the platform. In addition, we’re currently building a machine learning tool that should allow us to increase our volume of jobs by a significant margin.

What is your advice for recent graduates applying for jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Don’t be discouraged! COVID-19 has hit businesses hard, but there are still plenty of companies hiring out there and plenty of positions that need to be filled.

In terms of how to go about the search process, you should have a few companies you’re particularly excited about, and at least begin to think about what it is you want to do with your career. We spend arguably the most amount of time in our adult life doing things for our employers, so finding companies that align with your goals, values and interests is crucial. There are a ton of companies out there that are doing really amazing work, you just need to find them.

 

The Other Ursula Dedekind

Leaving a legacy of elegance, beauty, resilience, and glistening gowns.

It may surprise many to know that I am not the first Ursula Dedekind, I am actually the second. I was named after my grandmother or “Omi” as my family calls her. My Omi lead an incredible life that I thought deserves to be shared, especially since her passing this past March at the age of 89 years old.

Omi’s story is one of perseverance, resilience, and strength, one that typifies the struggle of many immigrants in The United States. But, it is also a story of wonder, elegance, adventure, and style- a full life to say the least. My Omi immigrated to America in 1962 with her husband and my father from Lima, Peru, where my grandparents owned a children’s clothing store called Pepe Grillo. The reason for their departure from South America was as a result of simmering political tensions in the country, which they heard about while attending a dinner party. Instead of returning to Hamburg, Germany, where they were both from, my grandparents decided to immigrate to America, as my grandmother had a cousin who was willing to sponsor them- more adventure to await them.

My Omi’s first job was at Henri Bendel- which, at the time, was a high end fashion retailer- in New York City. At Henri Bendel, she made custom ready-to-wear clothing for wealthy clients. When her client base became big enough, she rented a space to work out of in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and established her own business as a couturier. A major inflection point in her professional journey was when her husband, my grandfather, passed away from a heart attack, while delivering clothing on a hot day in New York City. From that point, my Omi decided to shift her business into selling directly to companies, lessening the burden of having to work for individual clients. Omi’s main client was Leron, who she designed and made nightgowns and lingerie for. Having tired of the work, it was by chance that one day on the street she bumped into her old colleague Monica Hickey from Henri Bendel, who was now the bridal director. Monica told her that she should make wedding gowns and, without skipping a beat, my Omi returned to Henri Bendel, this time making bridal gowns under her own name Ursula D.

Quickly, Omi made a name for herself, transitioning her skill in making beautiful nightgowns into making stunning handmade wedding dresses that could be seen in Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, and South America, as well as in Saudi Arabian palaces- elegant designs that would be desired by brides around the world. Omi was particularly famous for making her signature handmade satin organza flowers featured at the dress’s shoulder line and her pearl embroidery. Some of my Omi’s most memorable clients include Spike Lee’s wife Tonya Lewis, James Taylor’s wife Kathryn Walker, Alison Becker, my mother, actor Charlton Heston’s daughter, former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn’s niece, as well as many American socialites and even international royalty. She also made the bridesmaids dresses for Maria Shriver’s wedding who married Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1986. Yet, arguably, one of her most famous designs was for Vera Wang, known today for her own wedding dresses. Vera Wang wore a dress custom made and designed by my Omi when she married Arthur Becker in 1989. Wang’s dress- which weighed an astonishing 45 pounds- was made from pure silk satin and french lace and with hand embroidered pearls and Austrian crystals overlaid. A truly stunning dress for Wang’s big day.

My Omi loved the beauty, artistry, and creativity of making her gowns in addition to the connection it allowed her to have with others. She also enjoyed the challenge of customization, having her clients be able to design along side her their dream wedding dress. That challenge, however, did not come without a considerable amount of hard work. My father notes that she remembers Omi staying up late every night after dinner, working at the sewing machine on embroidering pieces. For her, the work was labor intensive and required extreme detail and care on her part as the designer. Deciding to retire in 1997 from such a hectic pace, Omi stepped away at the height of her career, when she was most familiar with the fashion trends and practices of the time, before wedding styles changed radically into slinky, strapless designs. However, I was happy to have grown up with her at every event, recital, and family holiday.

I will remember my grandmother for many things: her subtle German accent, impeccable style, hard working nature, and beautiful gowns. But most of all, I take away from her an awe inspiring perseverance. My Omi’s journey towards becoming a couturier for the “who’s who” did not come without its obstacles, patience, and hours of diligent work. From overcoming living through World War II as a child, to uprooting her life and living in South America, to finding a new home in The United States, my Omi learned how to navigate extreme uncertainty with grace and poise.

One day in the future, when I walk down the aisle in the dress that Omi made for my mother when she married my father, I will beam with pride, happy to know that she is with me on one of my most important days. Right by my side, as she should be. How she would have wanted it to be.

CEO Sit Down: Hayoung Park on HYP

A company revolutionizing exclusive releases: HYP, started by CEO Hayoung Park for the world.  

So, what’s all the hype about? I’ll tell you! HYP, a company started by CEO Hayoung Park, was recently unveiled to the world this summer, causing a stir among the limited collectors of all things street wear. HYP is an online bidding platform that partners with brands for exclusive release auctions. So far, the company has hosted extremely rare items, like a one of a kind pair of Nike “Stay Home” SB Dunk Low Pros in a custom hazmat box and a tie-dyed Supreme Box Logo Sample, which sold for a shocking $52,000. There are many things that are unique about the platform, one of them being your ability to see who is bidding live and their respective Instagram accounts, so you can really flex in front of the world. HYP has already been featured on Complex, Highsnobiety, Hypebeast, and Nice Kicks, making a splash right out of the gate. If this is what only a month of releases look like, we are truly in store for a wild ride. I have the privilege of knowing Hayoung personally, allowing me to get the low down on all things HYP to share with you. Let’s jump in.


So Hayoung, how did HYP first start? How did this idea grow into a business?

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It all started when I was 12- I was obsessed with basketball and thought I needed the Jordans to play better. Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t willing to pay for any of the sneakers, so I had to make my own money. A friend of mine was willing to sell me a pair of his Jordan 6 Oreos for way under retail – for $50, but before I borrowed the money from my mom, I had a buyer for that pair as well as sellers and buyers for two other pairs that I would buy that day. After my first day of reselling sneakers, I made $150 dollars in profit, paid my mom back the $50 with $1 interest, and grew my collection to a little over 300 pairs in the next four years. 

In doing this, I realized that brands have been innovating on product for as long as they’ve been around, but the way they price and sell the goods has remained stagnant since the beginning of mass production. It’s been a flat price in an attempt to capture a volatile market. It also physically was not able to capture any of the additional value created in the aftermarket because that was passed the brand’s point of capturability. I started to play around with the idea in early 2019 and officially started working on HYP in July 2019. At first, I pitch it to a couple of friends who were a bit doubtful that it was going to work, but I had the opportunity to pitch to a few major brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Supreme, and got some really great feedback. I took the points of concern and the wants of the brands and formatted to what it is now, which is: HYP, the social bidding platform for exclusive releases. On HYP, users link their Instagram to compete and show off in front of the world for exclusive release auctions in fashion, collectibles, and art.

What has been your biggest challenge in starting the company?

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The biggest challenge in starting the company has been finding a way to shortcut the Catch-22 that is consumer platforms. In order to get the brands to get the cool releases, you need the consumers and you need the demand side. But in order to get the demand side, you need the cool releases and you need the cool brands. We found a way to shortcut that by finding and working with the artists who were really cool and hyping up the first release. We knew that the platform would hyper concentrate and show demand to encourage other people to bid as well, and it worked pretty well! Our biggest challenges are finding cool releases and brands to work with as we curate the next batch of HYP releases to elevate both the HYP brand as well as brand partners. 

What advice do you have for anyone looking to start a company in today’s climate?

For anyone looking to start a company today’s climate, I honestly think it’s a better time than ever to start a company because a lot of the traditional incumbent companies are short on cash and they’re not as agile as startups. I think there’s a lot of room, especially now for startups to take over different niches that the bigger brands can’t quite adapt to because of COVID-19 restrictions or because they’re really really short on cash.

What is a collaboration that you have dreamed of doing?

A collaboration that I dream of doing is with Daniel Arsham. I think he’s a great artist and I think he really understands consumer sentiment and is great at balancing the past, current, and future. 

What about today’s culture makes HYP attractive to consumers?

Humans have been showing off to other people they see during the day forever. Recently, we’ve been showing off to our friends on Instagram. I think the next logical progression is showing off in front of the world, amplifying the feeling of walking in the mall with designer shopping bags in your hands. There haven’t been any digital equivalents to that feeling, and I believe HYP provides just that on an even more elevated scale. 

You’re quite fashionable yourself, what are some of your favorite brands?

My favorite brands are Thom Browne and APC. I recently started dressing more minimalist as I stopped wearing streetwear while optimizing my wardrobe for meetings. I have to dress more mature and elevated, so I started to invest in pieces that are a bit more sophisticated than Supreme, Bape, and Off-White. I still love those brands though.

What piece of advice have you received that you would give to others?

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The piece of advice that I would give to others is just to send it. No one knows exactly what they’re doing at the end of the day, as crazy as that sounds. I realized that you can’t learn to swim without getting in the pool and that you can’t learn to swim by reading a textbook. If there’s a project that you want to work on or a question that you want to answer, just go out and try to figure it out, try to take that first step because that’s always the hardest. When you do take the first couple of steps, find more reasons and motivations to take the next few. Also – stay (mentally) young and creative. Have fun.

 I know it’s top secret, but could you give us any clues as to what future releases HYP is going to be having?

For future HYP releases, we want to do collaborations that no one saw coming that strangely make sense. I think the fun is putting shit together that isn’t meant to be together and having that work & look great. From animal plush dolls to porcelain sculptures, we’re considering all of it. 

 

CEO Sit Down: MetaLogic Consulting with Rayan Goyal

A company providing creative machine learning and data science solutions for the world.

There is no question that machine learning and artificial intelligence have become a crucial component in business today. As companies collect more and more data, these tools have been deployed to help businesses derive meaningful insights and support business decisions. Having worked in the manufacturing sector, Rayan and Aditya quickly realized the need for sophisticated analytics in this industry and, after graduating from Babson College this past May, Rayan and Aditya started their own data science driven consulting firm MetaLogic Consulting. MetaLogic Consulting provides tailor-made, data driven solutions to manufacturing companies across the American Midwest and beyond. I had the privilege to sit down with one of the CEOs Rayan Goyal to learn more about how their company is making a serious impact driven by data.


Rayan, tell us about yourself!

Hey! I’m Rayan, and I am from Chennai, India. Growing up, I always had a passion for numbers and mathematics, which eventually led me to concentrate in Computational Finance and Data Analytics at Babson College. I also grew up in a very business-oriented environment, and so I have always wanted to start my own company. As soon as I graduated from Babson, my roommate Aditya Kaushika and I co-founded MetaLogic Consulting, which is a company that provides machine learning and data science solutions for primarily American manufacturing firms. 

What was the inspiration behind starting your consulting practice MetaLogic Consulting and what differentiates your company from other consulting firms?

After working for multiple manufacturing companies in the Midwest and in India, Aditya and I realized that there was a lack of sophisticated analytics being implemented in large corporations that you would expect to have top-level analytics. We realized that most data scientists tend to flock to the east or west coast, leaving this huge untapped market in the Midwest. So, we came up with the idea of creating a machine learning and data science consulting company that specifically targets manufacturing companies in the Midwest. 

To your second question, there are multiple factors that differentiate us from other consulting companies. As I mentioned before, we are targeting an industry and a market that tends to be ignored by large consulting firms. Also, we have an entire dedicated team that works on each project that we are hired for, which is very different from the “one consultant” approach that is standard in the industry. Furthermore, we not only provide end-to-end solutions, but we also tailor-make our services to unique customer requirements. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What is the mission and ethos of your company?

Broadly speaking, our mission is to help companies derive the most out of their data. You’d be surprised to know how many companies there are out there that collect a ton of data but don’t really do much with it. Our goal is to help them use this data in meaningful ways to grow, expand profits, and realize returns.

What is the greatest challenge that you have experienced in starting your new business?

I think that the biggest challenge that we encountered was that we had to repurpose our fundamental data science and machine learning knowledge to fit the different tools used by different companies. To be more specific, we had to re-learn, in a way, how to do what we do using the different softwares and environments that are used by various companies.

What makes machine learning and artificial intelligence so critical to business in today’s world?

At MetaLogic, we have always said that machine learning and artificial intelligence are no longer luxuries but are necessary to stay competitive in today’s business world. Let me give you a very simplified example to explain what I mean. Assume that you are a widget manufacturer that has only one machine. After using the machine for a year straight, it breaks down for two weeks. During these two weeks, you have an increase in costs (repairs and maintenance), a decrease in revenue (no inventory to sell), and a newly-developed perception of being unreliable. 

To prevent all these things from happening, your company could have used a machine learning algorithm that tracks your machine usage data and tells you when you need to repair it or how to use it optimally to prevent breakdowns. Now, this is a very simplified example, but the point is that as businesses and processes get more complex, there are countless opportunities for machine learning and data science to help improve efficiencies. This is especially true if companies want to stay ahead of the curve and be competitive. 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

What is one thing that you wish more people knew about data science?

I think that there is a preconceived notion that data science, and machine learning specifically, is a field that is very complicated and overwhelming. A lot of executives only think of autonomous cars or highly sophisticated concepts when they think of machine learning, which, in turn, makes them feel like it is not applicable to their business. But, in reality, data science can be applied to the simplest of tasks at almost every single company in the world that collects data. 

What about the future excites you?

I believe that the future is very exciting for data science as a whole. More companies are understanding the value in implementing machine learning and data science within their firms. This not only means a larger market for us but also leads to more deliberate and interesting decisions taken by companies across the board. 


Where to find MetaLogic:

Email: rayan.goyal@metalogicconsulting.com

Website

LinkedIn

Spotify and Apple Music: Podcasts

CEO Sit Down: Jesse Selchow on Stevies General Store

Jesse Selchow’s new company born from tie-dye dreams.

In the chaos and idleness that quarantine can bring, many people have utilized newfound time to turn their hobbies into businesses. My friend Jesse Selchow is one of them, who has been transforming vintage finds into up-cycled tie-dye pieces. I sat down with Stevies General Store‘s CEO Jesse Selchow to learn more about how she turned her passion for tie-dye into a business over the past few months.

Jesse, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! I’m Jesse. I grew up in the midwest with hippie parents, so tie-dye was something I saw a lot of when I was a kid. I have worked in the fashion industry for over ten years, and have dabbled in everything from styling to model casting, to eventually becoming an event producer for luxury brands.

How did Stevies General Store start and why recycled clothing turned tie-dye chic?

I have always had a love for vintage! With the world in its current state, no one is doing events so I found myself with extra time on my hands. I started brainstorming how I could combine my enthusiasm for hunting recycled clothing with a new hobby of tie-dye and turn it into a creative outlet.

Personally, has starting this business helped you to manage the COVID-19 quarantine currently present throughout the United States?

Definitely. It has been a blessing to find the feeling of productivity, even amongst the chaos surrounding the world. Keeping busy was really important for me to stay sane.

What is something you look for when finding clothing to recycle and revamp?

I have an affinity for 80’s era clothing, especially when I am looking to up-cycle. I always thought the retro 80’s graphics were really cool, and turning that into something new has been exciting.

What has been the most unexpected challenge in starting your e-commerce Instagram business?

The most unexpected challenge has definitely been the time it took to get the style and aesthetic of the brand ready to show the world. The possibilities are endless when identifying your style and, to me, continuity is the most important part of a brand.

What has been the most fun part of starting your new business?

Experimenting with colors and dying techniques has been really fun, especially on vintage items that already have a certain style to them. Surprisingly, I also found enjoyment doing the photoshoots for Instagram. I hate having my photo taken, however, we managed to find a playful way to do it that made it feel like I’m not taking myself too seriously which is ultimately what the overall project is about.

What new skills have you learned in starting Stevies General Store?

I have learned a lot of tie-dye techniques that I had never tried before and lately I started experimenting with ice dying which I am going to focus on for home goods such linen napkins and placemats.

Last question, if you could tie-dye any clothing piece- from past, present, future, you name it- what would it be?

I would love to die a vintage gown- ideally an organza or taffeta dress with big sleeves and a bow. Probably a vintage Yves Saint Laurent or Valentino from the 70’s or 80’s.