By Max Galka W’04/ENG’04
This post originally appeared on the M&T For Life blog.
M&T’s ‘A Day in the Life’ series highlights alumni in various fields and positions, offering a glimpse of what life after graduation is like. This post comes to us from M&T alum Max, currently an entrepreneur in New York.
Please briefly describe what industry you’re in and what your particular position entails.
Along with my two cofounders Chris Drayer and Tim Segraves, I am building a real estate technology startup called Revaluate, which is something like a Carfax/Yelp for homes. We gather data from a wide range of sources, and use it to help home buyers make more informed decisions.
My focus changes from day to day. Early on, most of my time was spent on data collection and analysis. Lately I am spending more time on marketing, user acquisition, and PR.
What time did you get up this morning before work?
About 7:30am. I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule and wouldn’t normally be up that early, but I like to spend the morning with my wife before she goes to work.
What time did you start working, and what time were you done for the day?
I started working at around 8 am and finished around 9 or 10 pm, which is pretty typical. The hours are really long, but I really enjoy what I’m doing.
What were some of the projects you worked on today?
We rely on overseas freelancers for a lot of our work, so my morning was spent catching up with them via Skype. Of the two that I spoke with today, one is based in China and the other in India, so they are finishing up their day at about the time I’m starting.
I spent most of the rest of the day working on a post for our blog. There was a recent article in the New York Times about areas of New York City where half of the condo units are vacant. I’m trying to go through our data and see if I can pinpoint why that is.
Who specifically did you interact with today, besides coworkers (clients, interns, researchers, executives, founders, etc.)?
In the afternoon I reached out to a few journalists who write about real estate. We are working on creative ways of using our data for content marketing, and that involves keeping in touch with the media and offering information when it’s relevant. My cofounders and I also had a video conference today with a potential business partner.
Are you currently traveling or about to travel for work?
Usually not very often, but last week I was in New Orleans for a Realtor conference, and next week I go to San Francisco to meet with some potential business partners.
What was your favorite part of the work day?
We got some good feedback today from one of our users. That is always appreciated and fun to hear.
What are some of the challenges within your position that you particularly enjoy?
I really enjoy the process of learning new skills. With only three of us involved in the business, we each have a hand in just about all areas: technical work, marketing, PR, sales, product development, fundraising, etc. It keeps things interesting being able to shift between different tasks.
How did you end up in your current position or school?
The basic concept behind Revaluate is something that has been in the back of my mind for a while. Previously I worked as a bond trader on Wall Street, which I also really enjoyed. But at some point, the time just felt right and I decided to give entrepreneurship a shot. Shortly afterward I got in touch with my cofounders, and we started building the business
How did M&T help prepare you for where you are today?
Without the M&T background, I would not have had the freedom to be able to shift from a pure finance career to one in technology. In some ways what I am doing now is the prototypical example of what Dr. Hamilton was preparing us for in his Management of Technology class, how to use technical knowledge of the product in managerial decisions. Looking back, that was probably the most valuable class I took at Penn.
There is also a really great community of M&T alums here in New York. A few of them have been very helpful to me in building the business.
What advice do you have for those who might be interested in pursuing a similar path?
I would highly encourage anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship to give it a shot. The failure rate for startups is high, so in that sense it is a highly risky endeavor. But just having the experience of building a business, even if it fails, is normally considered a very positive thing.
Also, the early stage of testing a business idea doesn’t usually require a full time commitment, so it is something you can do at any age or time in life. Some of the biggest businesses today were started by students or people with full-time jobs, who began working on the business in their spare time.
Bio: Max is currently Cofounder at Revaluate. He graduated from Penn and M&T in 2004 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Science from Penn Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton with a concentration in Finance. In his spare time, Max loves to travel (especially in Spain, where his wife is from) and his favorite film is Back to the Future.