Tuesday, 07 August 2012 Written by Christopher Demas
Exclusive Interview with Moses Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of Seelio.com
Seelio.com is a stage for college students to distinguish themselves through their portfolio of work and be discovered. Lee started his first startup at the age of 27, and is also the Assistant Director of Student Ventures at the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan.
In this role, he directs TechArb, the student startup accelerator (pictured below), and teaches the Entrepreneurship Practicum course.
Q. How did you get the idea/inspiration for your startup? What were you afraid of when starting out?
A. David Jsa, Jerry Wang, and I founded Seelio after I visited Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor for Portfolio Day in the spring of 2011. Portfolio Day gives a chance for students to showcase themselves through a paper binder of class work, tests, essays, and awards to professionals in the Ann Arbor community. I met with five students and was deeply moved by their stories and passions; I encouraged them all to continue exploring their interests in high school and to think about applying to the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).
After the event, I lamented to the program administrators: “Too bad that the paper portfolios will probably wind up on a shelf in their homes, never to be seen again.” And even more unfortunate, those who hold the keys to educational and career opportunities would probably never be able to review their rich portfolios of work to make better admissions or hiring decisions.
Q. What is Seelio and what are you trying to acheive with the company?
A. Seelio is a student portfolio platform that allows companies to discover and connect with high-achieving college students by looking beyond black-and-white resumes and seeing students' vivid accomplishments and personality.
We are revolutionizing the way college students showcase themselves for jobs and internships. We believe that bullet points and resume-based career search platforms fail to fully support college students transitioning from collegiate life to professional career.
Traditional resumes and career networking platforms inadequately depict the achievements of college students with little to no professional work experiences. To serve this vital segment, Seelio’s dynamic multimedia platform offers a visual approach for students to display their college experiences and illuminate their unique personalities. Presented with a comprehensive view into the background and accomplishments of students, employers can select better candidates in less time than previously possible.
Q. Please tell us how you took your idea and made it a reality. How did you fund your project and get the capital needed to start up?
A. Dave McClure says that the best combination for a web starting is having a hacker, a hustler, and a designer. The three founders of Seelio are just that. We came together with a common vision to disrupt paper based applications. We initially put $1000 of our own money into the startup to build a closed alpha site in 3 months. Most of the money went to legal and server costs.
Q. What part of your background/education has been most helpful to your experience as an entrepreneur?
A. I have a business degree from the Ross School of Business (University of Michigan). David and Jerry are engineers.
Q. What challenges did you face in the first year of starting your business and how did you overcome them and motivate yourself to keep going?
A. We faced many challenges, but the biggest one was finding the time within our schedules because we were initially bootstrapping. We finally raised $40K of funding from a micro-loan program run by SPARK Ann Arbor and could pay ourselves to work on our startup more.
Q. How did you market your business and build a following for it? How did you get coverage in the press?
A. Since we are located in Ann Arbor on the campus of UM, we leveraged our existing relationships and made the site exclusive to students at the University of Michigan. We gained press through our existing networks.
Q. What is your revenue like and what channels does it come from?
A. We are currently pre-revenue but will be rolling out a monetization plan once we launch open beta.
Q. What has been your most rewarding experience with your business so far and what has been the toughest aspect?
A. The most rewarding aspect has been the testimonies of students and companies successfully using our closed alpha site to find matches. In addition, our team is intense but we have a good time together. The most difficult aspect has been meeting product development deadlines. Getting our open beta out the door required many sleepless nights.
Q. How did you get others (investors, advertisers, partners, news media) to take you seriously as a young entrepreneur?
A. We have been able to gain traction with our site and have pointed to our results. Data has been our go to ace card.
Q. What have you learned that you wish you knew when you were starting up your business?
A. If you’re starting a tech business, know that you’re really in the talent acquisition business. It’s all about getting the best talent on your team that can execute on an idea.
Q. What overall advice would you offer young entrepreneurs who are looking to emulate your success?
A. Find a great team. A solid team that can execute is priority number one.
Have any more questions for Lee? Send them in through the comments below!