You won't believe the shit I will do for my startup

It’s minus 23 degrees. I was freezing wearing four different layers of clothing. I’m now in a bikini, about to jump into an ice hole to pitch WA.works. At this point, fond memories of my desk and headphones run through my mind
-why do I do this to myself?

Our stage

Our stage

6th and 7th of February 2018, Polar Bear Pitching invited international startups, investors and media to the freezing city Oulu in north of Finland. They all gathered in the town square for an out of the ordinary pitching competition, where 26 startups had to enter a hole in the ice to sell their business idea to a jury. I was super excited when I applied for this unique opportunity for Wide Assessment to get international exposure, but it quickly turned into remorse and fear when I realized that I actually had to go through with it..

I wore polar ears for the occasion

I wore polar ears for the occasion

#showmesisu was the order from the jury, a hashtag for Finnish courage and strength, but not exactly what I was promoting when I was walking the plank leading to JBear and the gaping ice hole. To make matters worse, the pitching was delayed by an hour because the hole had to be re-carved due to the insanely cold conditions. Eeek!

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«Is this your first time?» JBear asks surprised. Apparently, ice bathing is a thing in Finland. As I undress my robe, joyful glimps of coffee, colleagues and computers flash through my mind. «Why Stine, why do you torture yourself?» I think as I dip my toes in the water.

I. Can’t. Breath.

So I do it three times quickly, and start my pitch. To my surprise, my voice is holding up. I’m pausing and articulating like I practiced, and I’m not referring to an imaginary powerpoint like I did on my dry runs (pun intended).

Like a marathon runner I raise my hands on the finishing line. Then I quickly get out of the water and grab the first warm and fuzzy thing I see, JBear, and then rush for the sauna with a reporter on heels.

And I suddenly remember all the reasons why I sign up for shit like this. We’re on a quest to make global changes, and global changes doesn’t happen just because we create awesome technology that can single out IT talents. Candidates, companies, partners, investors and media from all over the world need to know about it.

And the world’s stage is not at my office in Bergen, Norway. So I’m slowly becoming comfortable being alone in a foreign country, speaking a second language, networking with complete strangers, and promoting my passion on stage, online and in water...

JBear & I

JBear & I

Top 5 tools that I'll keep in 2018

I'm willing to sign up, download and give a 3-day-try to almost any tool that promises to make our work flow better. I especially have a thing for desktop apps. 

But frankly, I delete or forget most of them within the first month.

But the keepers are heavily used and appreciated, so I thought I would share them.


#1 WA.works

The WA is an online profile for IT candidates that effortlessly highlights and shares their technical abilities with potential employers, without compromising on their right to control who can view their résumé.

Used for: 7 months
Frequency: Daily
Runs on: Web
I (would) pay: 50 000 NOK/ $6000 a year for Premium Features

Why I love: The low key poking feature introduces us to candidates we would never reach through regular recruiting, and their WA profiles instantly tells me if they fit our team or not.
Most loved feature: Premium Search, where you can look through anonymous skill profiles and poke the ones you would like to get to know. The candidate then choose whether or not they want to let mer access their full profile or not.
What could be better: The design. (Coming soon!)

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#2 Pastebot

The Pastebot tracks everything you copy in a history list, and then lets you paste previous clips (including screenshots and snippets).

Used for: 1 year
Frequency: Hourly
Runs on: Mac
I pay: 109 NOK/ $13 a year

Why I love it: Most of my clipboard contains links, snippets or email address I will need multiple times. I was longing for something like this. I even made my brother program a temporary solution, but not as good as this one.
Most loved feature: Paste second copy.
What could be better: So essential that it should be a part of the Mac package.

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#3 Newton Mail

Newton is a modern, clean email client for those who get lost in Gmail and hate Outlook.

Used for: 1,5 year
Frequency: Hourly
Runs on: iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac
I pay: $49.99 a year

Why I love it: Everything has a keyboard shortcut. ^1, ^2.. to switch between accounts, R to respond, F to forward, Z to regret sending the mail, S to star etc.
Most loved feature: The "read receipt" is awesome. Then I know when to remind people that I'm waiting for a response. I can see when the email was read, without them knowing I know they read it. Sneaky, but genius.
What could be better: Searching for emails. Especially those with multiple recipients.

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#4 Any.do

Any.do is the task managing tool you're going to keep using. Though the design is Trello inspired, it's even easier to use and better for task handling.

Used for: 3 months
Frequency: Daily
Type: Web, Chrome, Mac, iPhone, Android, Alexa
I pay: Nothing. All my needs are served on the Freemium model.

Why I love: It's synced on all devices and let's me categorize and schedule both business and personal tasks without everything becoming overbearing and messy. I also love that the deadlines are not sorted on dates, but today, tomorrow, upcoming and someday. It's less stressful somehow.
Most loved feature: Switching the sorting between categories and deadlines.
What could be better: I'm missing "task in progress". It would be motivating to see that tasks are started, not just pending or finished.

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#5 Fiken Regnskap

Fiken is a Norwegian self help accounting system that easily let's smaller companies deal with accounting, invoicing, salaries and reports.

Used: 2 years
Frequency: Daily
Type: Web, iPhone, Android
I pay: 4500 NOK/ $555 a year

Why I love: I love the automatic features that are integrated with Altinn and how easy it is to navigate through the system. 
Most loved feature: Fiken is able to read receipts and suggest which VAT code to register them as. This save us a lot of typing and researching time!
What could be better: We miss an integrated time tracker, but have heard rumors that it's coming in 2018.

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These are my top five tools for general work tasks. All of them are focusing on doing the main task best, instead of bombarding you with dozens of half-ass features to solve all your problems.
 

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Hope you enjoyed the tips, best wishes for your productivity in 2018!

Stine Andreassen
CEO Wide Assessment AS
stine@wa.works

I also highly recommend Pivotal Tracker for software developement.

And Slack, Doodle, Zapier, Mailchimp, Sendgrid, Trello, Zendesk, Pingdom, Paint.net, Appear.in, Email Estractor, Hunter.io and many more for communication and marketing.

But that area is a jungle I'll have navigate for you another time..

Merry Christmas!

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We decided to keep the tradition we started in our original recruitment agency and add an honest list of 2017's wins and losses to our Christmas greetings.

With this, we want to thank users, customers, partners, investors, board and supporters, and wish you all a merry Christmas and a heck of a new year. We can't wait to update this list next year:

Customers
Companies Freemium:  172
- deleted fake companies: 35
Companies Premium: 12
New employees hired: 30

Money
Money at beginning: 1,1M NOK
Money raised during: 2M NOK
New investors: 6
Current owners: 14
Loan granted: 1,5M NOK
Money at end: 2,7M NOK

Press
Articles written: 4
Reporters approached: 20
Articles published: 2
Pitches held: 1 billion
Piches nailed: 1 

Features
Candidate launch: February
Company launch: May
Customer launch: August
Average delivery delay: 2 months
Average bugs in releases: 4

Users
Signed up: 3900
Signed down: 100
Countries 2017: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, UK
Countries 2018: USA
Current pokes: 1100

Team
Going in: 3
Going out: 5
Students: 10
Interns: 3
Planned hires 2018: 5

Press Release Wide Assessment December 2017

The founders of Wide Assessment were both surprised and happy when they managed to raise doubled the amount of capital intended in the second funding round.

After spending a whole year raising the first million NOK, we were ecstatic about the big interest we experienced in chase of the second
— Stine Andreassen, CEO

Wide Assessment was established in 2016 and finalized their first funding round of 1,1M NOK in the fall the same year. When the company opened the next round a year later, the interest from investors was so surprising that they decided to do two parallell rounds. Within just weeks, both were closed at a total of 2M NOK.

The story begins with a daughter and a father who realize that they can work together without getting on each other's nerves. The seed for creating a new tool for evaluating IT skills started to grow in the father's recruitment agency. Together with CTO, Eivind Hjertnes, the team developed WA.works, a recruitment platform that slowly but surely started to replace the original work the agency was an expert at. This attracted big clients like Knowit and Capgemini, as well as smaller tech companies.

Business Angel Ole Tom Pettersen have big faith in the new solution and have invested in all of the funding rounds.

WA.works is an incredibly smart solution where companies and people with IT skills easily can connect. I’m sure that in within a short time frame, this will become a tool we simply can’t do without.
— Ole Tom Pettersen, Business Angel

The capital will be used to validate the model for scaling in the IT market. By the end of 2018, Wide Assessment will be aiming for Seed Capital to be able to expand to other industries.


For more info: Stine Andreassen, CEO Wide Assessment AS, +47 47372074, stine@wa.works

AM I QUALIFIED, NOT QUALIFIED, OR OVER-QUALIFIED?

Don't get hung up on job titles and demands. Job listings are usually too vague about the actual work tasks, and too specific about the demands in regards to experience and education. 

Rule of thumb: always apply, it's up to the company to figure out if it's a match or not.

But clicking your way through a shitty recruitment system might not seem worth it if you're not all that sure of your own interest, or the chance of getting an interview. So until WA.works reaches world domination, here are some guidelines for spending your time wisely:

Part time job
Give up.
JK. It's hard, but not impossible, to find a relevant part time job. Most consultant agencies have summer trainee programs that can serve as a good entry. Start early and talk to company representatives when they visit your school. The competition is usually stiff, so make use of your network to get through the door. We also recommend looking towards startups. Salaries might be low (or non-existent) but your growth and résumé will definitely benefit more from this than spending the hours stocking shelfs at IKEA.

First Job
Evaluate if the position is a good start for growing competence and career. And first and foremost, figure out which one of those is most important to you. Some thrive in a smaller environment where they are challenged each day, while others are motivated by big organizations with more obvious career opportunities. Nevertheless, find a place you can stay for a couple of years and don't be too fussy about salary and their customer product. Your first job is all about getting to know your industry beyond profession, and building a solid foundation of the network you will use for the rest of your career.

Other Jobs
What do you WANT to work with? After your first job you have a better understanding of what direction you want to take from here on. Now you can make conscious decisions on what kind of company you'd like to be a part of, and what role you want in that company. What are factors that make you excited about a work place? Funny coworkers, new technology, responsibilities, salary, flexible hours? Some of these are possible to negotiate as part of your contract. Others are kind of a gamble, but a gamble that can be minimized by for example visiting the work place outside of the interview situation, or asking around in your network. 

First Management Job
First management position usually comes to you through internal processes. It's hard to get that kind of responsibility externally without having proved that you can handle it. But you can use your application text and interview to convince them about your leadership abilities. They are looking for someone that will be respected by the team, that you're comfortable using management methods (what kind depends on position), and that you can guide the company through trends and opportunities that arises.

Nb! Education level (degrees and certifications) is either a strong influencer or a hard demand in this case.

Other Management Jobs
You will get a new managing position through close relationships to customers and suppliers, recognition in your network, an impressive résumé that proves results over time and great references. Like in your second or third job, you are now in a better position to evaluate what's important to you. While immediate industry knowledge have been a key factor for a long time, your management level might have exceeded that need at this point.

Many people who have had a great career choose to challenge themselves by venturing off on their own. This area of your life is very much about self-fulfillment and realizing goals and dreams.

Last Jobs
For those of you who that are facing some of your final career decisions, it can be quite hard to know what the guys on the other side of the table are thinking. You have some of the best competence and experience on the market, but it might also be outdated if you have spent most of your recent years at one place. New employers are also concerned about your priorities at this point in your life; are you looking to have more free time or are you ready to pull up your sleeves and put in the hard work? This is something you have to evaluate for yourself as well, and figure out how you want your ambition level to be perceived in an interview.

And don't worry, the companies that are looking for 25 year olds will not even invite you to an interview, so don't feel you have to compete with their lifestyle and career ambitions. The companies that are interested in you want you for the mistakes you have made and learned from, the overview and calm you have in all situations, and the valuable relationships you have obtained over many years in the industry. But it is a good idea to freshen up on new technology before an interview to show that you still keep track of trends and developments!

FIND A JOB OR CONTINUE THE STUDIES?

You've spent almost three years finishing your bachelor's degree and you are now facing the difficult decision of whether your should enter adulthood or continue in the safe womb of studentship, so what should you do?

IF YOU HAVE NO RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE

If studying hard (and probs "socializing" equally hard) is all you have been doing for the last three years, I recommend you to enter the real world.

IT educations are too theoretic to compete with actual work experience. Some subjects are still basing grades on pen n' paper programming, and most practical assignments are missing the context and legacy you deal with in big projects.

Therefore, you have to start with evaluating your actual competence. For example; are you a good programmer or just a great student? Compare these two factors and see how they fit with our general guidelines:

**If you have amazing grades and most likely will continue to have this during your master's, let's be honest, a consultancy agency will snap you up even if you're competing with more talented programmers.

*Find a job is easier said than done. Whilst doing so, we recommend doing internships and creating or joining relevant projects, so that you are building competence and can increase your chances of landing an interview and being impressive in it.
 

IF YOU HAVE RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE

Students with relevant part time jobs, summer jobs or internships have relevant work experience and therefore need to consider what's their best learning method and their chances of getting good enough grades going forward. "Reconsider Career Choice" appears twice in the guidelies below because if you actually have experience and haven't increased your level in programming, you might just be aiming for the wrong field.

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Degree level is almost always used as a filter to make the workload manageable. A master's degree stands out in the recruiting process, especially in bigger companies with many applicants.

However, the IT industry is somewhat unique because IT knowledge is available and acknowledged even without degrees. It is possible to be great in your field without any formal background. And many IT candidates are typical self-thought geniuses that lack the interest or ability to succeed through theoretical studies and exams. That's one of the reasons why we want to create a CV that better mirrors a candidate's actual competence level and context, and a tool for companies to discover this without being fixated on degrees. 

To sum it up, a master's will generally get you through the door, but getting further will be hard if your grades are bad and/or you actually suck at the tasks they want to hire you to do.


THE DISCLAIMER...

This is of course just a general observation, and deciding on education is always a very subjective and individual choice. Motivation is for example a very important factor that have not been discussed in this blog post.

Our guidelines are based on nearly ten years in the IT recruiting industry from local, national and international agencies. If you're having troubles deciding what to do, feel free to comment on social media. We are happy to answer questions and give advice. And please speak up if you disagree; more perspectives will help the students with this dilemma!

WHAT ARE WE UP TO AND WHY?

We are using our experience to change how small companies attract and hire IT competence by reconstructing the CV. Though we're keeping parts of it, a WA will mostly focus on the candidates' skill level and context, so that this can be matched with our costumers' needs.

Personally, I have more IT passion than skills, and more experience trying to challenge the recruitment industry than being a part of it, so I'm doing this because I truly believe that our team can attract the people, capital and market shares needed to untangle the knots in today's market.

If you ask our Sales Manager, he's doing it because of he has spent the last decade trying to help candidates and customers do this manually, and made money doing so. But he knows there is a better way to do things, and he want to be a part of that turnaround.

And our Lead Developer is just tired of crappy systems and wants to build something better.

IF YOU'RE NOT EMBARRASSED BY THE FIRST VERSION OF YOUR PRODUCT, YOU'VE LAUNCHED TOO LATE

Famous words by the Linkedin-founder..and by his definition, we are right on time! 

While we have great plans for the design of WA.works, we made a conscious (and financial) decision to finish all basic functionality as soon as possible to enter the market, and implement a comprehensive and intuitive design when we're further along.

So thanks for the positive feedback on the current features, and please tag along on FacebookLinkedinTwitter and Trello to keep up with our journey to improve IT recruiting.

And if you haven't seen our new solution yet, please feel free to register!