This week, ExecuTalks founder and host, Ash Faraj, interviewed OfferUp CEO and co-founder Nick Huzar. They discussed his experiences finding work after college and how that led him to start his own company Konnects, and eventually OfferUp. Here are 3 key takeaways from our interview with Nick.
1. Work at Smaller Companies
After Nick graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Management Information Systems, he landed his first job as Project Manager at a small start up company. Unfortunately, he accepted the position at half of the starting salary of a recent college graduate. Despite being paid at a lower rate than his friends, he says he learned more in that year of being a Project Manager than he ever did working for big companies like Microsoft and T-Mobile. Coming out of the class environment, it thrusted him into the real world where he learned past his job description and grew in his skills for business development. That’s because, there are usually more tasks to do than there are people to do them. Thus, small companies provide the necessary environment for professional growth, as Nick comments that it’s small companies that will challenge you to grow, to stretch yourself, to put you outside of your comfort zone, and to discover what you’re good at. Especially if you are young and young in your career without many attachments or commitments, working for a small company can be a vital step in developing skill and the stepping stone for successfully starting your next project or endeavor.
2. Surround Yourself with Good People
Nick recognizes that if it weren’t for the people in his life, OfferUp wouldn’t exist as it does today. There were pivotal moments in his journey of upstarting OfferUp that allowed him to continue pursuing his vision without slowing down. One example of this is Nick’s wife. If it wasn’t for her consistent support, encouragement, and even permission to continue the project, OfferUp wouldn’t exist. There were many times in the beginning when Nick had to support his new family but still wasn’t paying himself despite the intensity of work he was inputting. A little over a year of this, he asked his wife if he could continue. He promised her it would only be a few more months of not paying himself. If she had said, “stop”, Nick would have ended OfferUp. However, she said “keep going”. Nick reflects that having this kind of partner that continually believes in you and shows support is really important for persevering through upstarting a company.
Additionally, Nick recounts his experiences of building a team for OfferUp after he received funding. He realized that being patient and intentional with the people he brought onto his team largely influenced the productivity of the group and the success of the company. In his interview, Nick recognized that when he was hasty in hiring new people, 90 days later it would prove disastrous. Thus, taking the time to assess whether or not that candidate is a good fit for the company and that they are there for the right reasons can ensure a golden team.
3. Failure Drives You Forward
Many of us are afraid to fail, and it seems like it will set us back if we do. However, Nick failed many times personally and professionally. He was unemployed for a long time after ending his role as a Project Manager early in his career, soon afterward his relationship of four years ended, and he failed at his first start up company, Konnects. Despite these hardships, Nick was able to take these “failures” and use them as learning lessons to help him grow into his next role. Because he failed at Konnects, it gave Nick insight on how to make better strategic and management decisions for OfferUp. Because his relationship of four years ended, he was able to meet his current wife who supports and encourages him every day to keep working towards his vision at OfferUp. Although we may not see the benefit of a hardship as it’s happening, it’s integral to one’s success to embrace failure and use it as a tool to learn and reflect, so that we can perform better as we drive forward.
If you missed, read last week's 3 takeaways with CUT Founder and Former CEO: Michael Gaston.