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My Startup Got a Boost from Yale SOM Students

When Daniel Kent ’16 reached out to one of his favorite professors after graduation, the result was a collaboration with current SOM students—and some targeted improvements for his startup.

Dan Kent

From left: Daniel Kent ’16, Jenny Poon ‘18, Lori Riser ’18, and Daisuke Ito ‘18

When I started my second year in the MBA program at Yale SOM in fall 2015, two types of courses on my “must-take” list were quantitative marketing and entrepreneurship classes. Now as an SOM alum and entrepreneur, it’s been thrilling to continue to engage with the SOM community, particularly with students in classes that I previously took.

Two of my favorite classes while at SOM—Listening to the Customer and Strategic Market Measurement—were taught by Professor Aniko Öry, who marries her background in microeconomic theory and quantitative marketing in teaching them. In Strategic Market Measurement, we learned fundamental data science techniques applied to real-world marketing problems, gaining a toolkit of skills ranging from linear and logistic regression and A/B testing to factor and cluster analyses. We then applied our newly acquired skills in Listening to the Customer, learning about qualitative marketing research techniques and gaining experience holding focus groups, conducting surveys, and interviewing customers one on one in group projects.  Öry emphasizes in her classes that working with real companies and their management decision problems enable students to learn about all the contours of qualitative and quantitative marketing research. 

Following my experiences at SOM, I was inspired to help develop, a visual job search and networking CRM to assist jobseekers in becoming more organized, based upon my learnings from SOM’s Career Development curriculum. At our company, we had seen traction in a number of different customer segments, but we were looking for help in more strategic market segmentation and analysis.

 At the beginning of last semester, I caught up with Öry, and she mentioned that students in her Listening to the Customer Class were looking for a capstone project. I was thrilled to have her connect the Jobwell team to MBA candidates Daisuke Ito ’18, Ki Kim ’18, Jenny Poon ’18, and Lori Riser ’18, all of whom had experienced the difficulties and frictions of recruiting firsthand and wanted to help Jobwell. We worked together to develop a project scope, seeking to understand the specific difficulties jobseekers face and determining which customer segments Jobwell should focus on targeting first.

 After an exhaustive research campaign, holding several focus groups, conducting countless interviews, and surveying dozens upon dozens of undergraduate and graduate students, the student team identified a number of areas of job hunter pain, from difficulties managing all of their networking to identifying target industries and companies.

 The team looked at existing and new potential features for the platform and conducted a factor analysis. They observed two different strategies in recruiting that mirrored their expectations and experiences—one associated with taking a more exploratory and networking-focused approach where task management was important, and another which focused on applying to very targeted roles and companies. Based on these findings, the team drew the conclusion that it’s important to segment users by a preference for networking and scheduling, and a preference for purely applying to lots of jobs.

They then performed a number of other types of analyses, including a cluster analysis, and identified three groups of jobseekers on campus; first, a group of generally older students with a clear career focus who were looking for specific roles and companies, and a second group of students conducting heavy research from sites like Glassdoor and networking to better identify their “fit.” The team discovered a third segment that presented Jobwell with the greatest opportunity: focusing on young job-seekers who have little knowledge and experience in recruiting but want the best “fit.” They want the information and best fit like the second group, but aren’t familiar with established best practices and tools and are less aware of the importance of referrals and networking. Jobwell could provide the greatest benefit to these users, and the team recommended that Jobwell prioritize its go-to-market strategy with them first.

 My co-founders, May Lu and Richard Lin, and I were thrilled with the outcome. The student team exceeded our expectations in the thoughtful, actionable analysis and insights regarding our potential segmentation opportunities. This partnership has helped us better focus on whom we should be targeting in our marketing campaigns and the groups of users that we should focus on developing new features and services for.

 Professor Öry and the students were also excited about the partnership. “It’s really gratifying to see alumni come to class with a strategic marketing problem, offering an opportunity for students to dive into the role of the analytical marketer, understand the customer, and provide recommendations for the company,” Öry said. “We’re looking forward to continuing these types of partnerships between startups from other alumni and students all around SOM and Yale, starting this year by collaborating with the Program on Entrepreneurship team including Amy Shock and Associate Dean and Shanna and Eric Bass ’05 Director of Entrepreneurship Kyle Jensen.”