Goalee Is Helping You Win Your Networking Game
Networking can be a scary, complicated and sometimes uncomfortable venture to endure. But, we all know how essential it is for professional success so whether we like it or not, we play the game. Luckily, there are platforms like Goalee that combine professional networking (think Linkedin) and matchmaking like a dating site (think eHarmony), making networking more relevant and less intimidating.
We touched base with co-founders James Brown and Chris Sturgill to talk Goalee goals, bootstrapping advice and why entrepreneurship is like eating or breathing.
First, a little bio action-
James Brown, Co-Founder
James Brown is a passionate entrepreneur with more than seven years of marketing, account management, business development, and branding experience. Prior to starting Goalee, James ran a brand development firm in his hometown of Richmond, Va. creating identity packages for clients ranging from nonprofit family organizations to national fruit juice manufacturers. Tapping his entrepreneurial mindset and significant branding experience, James creates strategically sound and creatively unique solutions for brand communities both online and off. His current projects relate to the development of shared communities and the sociology behind social media. James earned a BS from Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in Mass Communications: Strategic Advertising and was awarded the Mass Communication Department’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Advertising; he received an MBA from the Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, where he was a William E. Simon Leadership Fellow and Dean’s Leadership Award winner.
Chris Sturgill, Co-Founder
Chris Sturgill has worked in the web development space for nine years and is a strong proponent of open source web technologies. Prior to starting Goalee, Chris was a freelance web developer providing solutions using open source tools for a range of organizations — from Silicon Valley start-ups to mom-and-pop shops to public companies with multi-billion dollar market caps. Chris’ current projects and specialties relate to Rails, Web Server Management, Nginx, PHP, LAMP, AJAX, Database Management, CSS, Web Applications, AWS and EC2. Chris received a BA from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, where he was a Dean’s Leadership Award winner.
Tell us a little more about Goalee.
James Brown: Goalee is an innovative networking platform that functions like a hybrid of a professional networking site like LinkedIn and an interest-based matchmaking site like eHarmony. Users set goals for themselves, and Goalee matches them with other users that can help them achieve their goals, ranked by how similar the users are on both a professional and personal level (based on their Linked and Facebook profile data). Goalee then guides the user through the process of making targeted, effective outreach, using the personal similarities as a basis for a more effective networking relationship. Goalee jump-starts the networking process that takes out the cold call fear, so users can instead focus on connecting with the people they need to know.
We believe the old adage ‘it’s who you know’ is as valid as ever. Goalee provides a more effective way to discover and connect with people you never knew you needed to know. A cross between LinkedIn and eHarmony, we match people to people – not to friends of friends, job openings or similar resumes.
Chris Sturgill: A lot of us don’t know whom to contact when networking or what to say when approaching someone cold – whether it’s for social or professional reasons. Goalee acts as a networking coach; it not only suggests new connections in order to achieve your goals, but also helps you know what to say when you reach out to those people.
What’s a typical day at Goalee look like?
Chris: On a typical day, I manage the development team as they build amazing new features and make sure the site is working properly. Across the desk, James spends his day building new UI designs, developing new partnerships, and creating new ways to connect with users.
How do you motivate yourself?
James: This is like asking “what motivates you to eat each day.” Entrepreneurship… or running a startup… becomes part of your life to the point that lines blur and you’re living and breathing everything that you do. You want nothing more than to see your work grow and fulfill your vision. So in a way, the work itself is motivation, because there’s always something to do… always something that needs to be improved… and those changes/improvements are crucial because they come to feel as though they are direct reflections of your vision and everything needs to be perfect. Ultimately, if you need outside motivation to keep going… then you probably shouldn’t be doing what you’re currently trying to do… because the next milestone should be all the fuel you need, and your only focus.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
James: Question everything you do and ask yourself if you really need to do it at that time. Bootstrapping is NOT just related to the money you spend… it’s also the way you spend your time and what you’re able to achieve given limited resources (including people). We’ve had plenty of experiences where we went down rabbit holes only to find that we didn’t really need to spend whatever time, money, or other resources we spent. We’ve learned to be very critical of our initial ideas, and to really consider all options before going down a certain path.
Chris: The questions you ask after you have an idea should be “how does this fit into our overall strategy?” “how will this add value to our overall experience?” “what will it cost in terms of resources – time, money, etc.?” and finally, “how does that cost compare to the value we generate?” If the value is higher than the cost – do it. If not… move on.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? After working for 16 hours? While out jogging? On your third beer?
James: All of the above. The aggravating thing about great ideas is that they show up unannounced and usually ruin everything you had planned.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
Chris: I have a picture of my wife and kids… and a couple rocks my daughter gave me when we were on a beach last summer. Reminds me of what I’m working for and to stay grounded. Beyond that..a few pads of paper filled with ideas.
James: I feel so minimal…but my desk is really just gadgets. Laptop connected to my monitor, iPad set up… iPhone next to it. Headset on standby. Few post-it pads off to the side if I need them.
What entrepreneur do you admire?
James and Chris: We admire all entrepreneurs. It takes a whole lot of dedication and sacrifice to bring an idea to life, and anyone who goes through the experience is worth admiring.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
James: A year and $500k sounds like a great opportunity for another startup…
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
James: We were so passionate about helping people make new connections that there was no question really. We also knew, from the experience of our friends in business school in a tough economy, how important networking is to finding new opportunities. We felt that this could help people improve their lives, and that helped stoke the fire.
James: You can’t move forward if you’re only looking back. There’s always things you can do better in the future, but we’re looking ahead…not in reverse.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
James: As long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing – don’t quit.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why.
3 people you recommend we follow on Twitter, and why?
- Aaron Levie – probably the best comments on startups, entrepreneurship, technology, etc.
- Andrew Chen – same as above, but a runner-up to Aaron.
- @GoaleeApp– shameless self-plug!
Where can our readers get ahold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog? Any other projects you’re working on that we should check out
Follow us on twitter @GoaleeApp
Thanks Chris and James! If you’re looking to step up your professional networking game, definitely check out Goalee. This kind of reminds me of Love Connection for professionals. Where is our man Chuck Woolery these days?