Startups have a very particular atmosphere and working at one is entirely unlike working anywhere else. Because of what we do, we come into contact with a lot of exciting, fresh companies. To give job seekers a better insight we thought we’d showcase some of our favourites and show what it’s like to work at a startup.
I recently spoke to Michael Puriz, Senior Business Strategist at LOVOO, who found his job through StartupCVs. We had a long conversation about what life is like at a startup and how he came to be working at LOVOO.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background?
Michael didn’t go straight into the startup world. He studied Business Economics at Witten/Herdecke University before working as a consultant. He spent two years as a consultant, a time he describes as “very interesting but also very intense.”
“I learned a lot about how companies work. But I was away five days a week. It just wasn’t my lifestyle,” he says. “Different things were important to me.” So a change was in order. Michael’s next move was to Rotterdam, where he studied for a Master’s degree in Strategic Management. His course included some emphasis on entrepreneurship and when it was finished, Michael decided to “go and explore startups.”
“I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I wanted to work in a startup.”
He tells me: “I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I wanted to work in a startup.” That startup ended up being Applift (part of the HitFox Group), where he joined a new Strategic Partnerships team, which he ended up leading for a year, before recently joining LOVOO.
What do you love most about working at LOVOO?
“I can really shape the strategy and course of the company.”
As at Hitfox, Michael joined a newly-formed department at LOVOO, something he was very excited about. The new department is focused on monetising their app through direct advertising deals with brands. He tells me: “I can really shape the strategy and course of not only my department but also the company as a whole.”
“I have a very interesting role,” he continues. “I am very close to decision makers in the company.”
“People just treat me with respect. The way I would want to treat other people.”
It’s not just the job itself that Michael likes, though. He is enthusiastic about LOVOO’s culture, too, telling me: “People just treat me with respect. The way I would want to treat other people.”
What do you love most about startups? What do you think is the biggest difference from conventional companies?
For Michael, to some extent “a startup is just another company.” He doesn’t necessarily buy into the startup label and what it has come to mean to many people – things like free food and ripped jeans. He does see a difference in the way startups can operate, though.
“If you fail, you fail, but at least you learn something.”
“A startup has nothing to lose,” he says. “If you fail, you fail, but at least you learn something. Established companies have something to lose.”
“Startups have a goal, they have a vision, they are very ambitious, and they will do anything necessary to achieve their goal.”
He also talks about how that impacts him: “It gives me the room and freedom to act in a way that’s beneficial to both me and the company. The company stands above everything.”
“That’s the goal of everyone in a startup: to learn.”
He returns to the idea that startups try, sometimes fail, but always learn: “I always try to learn through the actions I take. That’s the goal of everyone in a startup: to learn.”
How did you find using StartupCVs?
Michael knows one of our founders personally from his time at HitFox, but he’s not sure if he found out about StartupCVs directly from him or through another person.
“This is the quickest way to get my CV to the responsible HR person.”
“At some point I just came across this name, so I went to the website and checked it out,” he tells me. He likes that you could submit a speculative application to a company with one click and remembers thinking: “This is the quickest way to get my CV to the responsible HR person.”
I ask him how he ended up at LOVOO and he tells me: “That’s a bit of a funny story because we kind of contacted each other at the same time. So it was really a mutual interest.”
He then had an interview and came away with a great impression, saying: “We just spoke. We had one long interview where we just sat and spoke for two hours. About the job and the world and everything.”
The answer is 42, in case you were wondering.
What would be your top tip for other job seekers who want to get a job at a startup?
Michael demurs when I ask this; he doesn’t like to give one-size-fits-all advice.
“I can only look at it from my own perspective,” he says. “I don’t want to tell people how they should be or what they should do.”
I ask him instead what he thinks was important in his own job search, maybe there’s something for others to take away from that.
“I needed to understand what I actually want,” he says, referring to his move from consultancy to the startup world. He says it’s key to consider what area of business interests him, whether that’s the function he performs or the sector he works in. After that, he (or you) can look around and decide which company is the best place to do that.
“Be very clear about the goals you have.”
“Be very clear about the goals you have and then choose the startup that can help achieve those goals,” he says. By doing that, you can automatically show your passion.
“Everyone has their own story, so I don’t like to generalise too much. But find a company that is great at marketing, if that’s what you want to do. Or has a great product. They want to see that you have passion and an interest in the startup.”
If you enjoyed reading this, watch out for other articles in our We Know Startups series.
If you found your job through StartupCVs and would like to share your story in our We Know Startups series, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line on [email protected].