From Investment Banking to Trailer Park Startup

By Adam Saven W’12, Co-founder of campuskudos

My career journey has gotten off to an interesting start: from an analyst program in investment banking to running a startup out of a trailer park across from Google Headquarters. Like so many other entrepreneurs, I’m learning that my journey is going to have a lot of twists and turns.

campuskudos sm

Upon graduating, I was a classic Wharton “success” story, or so I was instructed to believe. I landed a job at a prestigious investment bank, the stated rite of passage to future riches. Yet, it didn’t feel so awesome to go from Dean’s List student to humbled “Excel Robot”—it was not what I had I imagined for myself. I very quickly grew antsy in my investment banking role. [tweetthis alt=”‘On my 365th day of investment banking, it was time to move on’: Adam Saven #W12, #startuplife via @WhartonEntrep” shorturl=”http://whr.tn/1IFEwBl”]”On my 365th day of investment banking, it was time to move on.”[/tweetthis]

This was an easy decision, because I’d just received an offer to work at Google. It was a surreal experience transitioning from investment banking to the rainbow-colored halls, organic cafeterias, and gratuitous yoga classes at Google. Equipped with a newfound appreciation for free time and inspired by the intoxicating levels of “Googley-ness” at work, I decided to pursue a side project, which eventually became a full-time job, and I became an entrepreneur.

Frustrated by my own job search experience and inspired by the widespread popularity of the dating app Tinder, I, along with my two co-founders, launched the first “Tinder for Jobs” app. Essentially, a jobseeker was presented with roles at companies and simply had to swipe to indicate his or her interest or lack thereof. If the employer was mutually interested, the two parties would be connected via chat.

My first company, Emjoyment, despite disrupting the English language with an ‘emj’ sound, did not disrupt the job recruitment market. We had some early wins —raising ~$500K from impressive angel investors, numerous downloads, building and managing a team of six, and laudable PR. Living and working out of the Santiago Villa Trailer Park community, we certainly kept our costs low and focus high. I whiteboarded, stayed up late, and wore sandals, but when I looked in the mirror…I was still a business guy trying to learn the ropes.

I quickly learned that brains and work ethic were merely the price of admission for startups. Nevertheless, our team hadn’t given up. We decided to ‘pivot,’ a nice word for ‘it didn’t work out, so we went in a different direction.’

Just recently, we launched campuskudos. Our mission is to connect young founders with alumni and resources. We like to say: “Our community can help you with (almost) anything. Just ask.” Our goal is for campuskudos to be a place where young founders can find great mentors, feedback and even funding. I have found one of the biggest impediments for students who want to take their projects further is the lack of mentorship and resources available. I hope that these bright minds, with the help of the campuskudos community, will be able to disrupt different industries and make a huge impact.

I imagine that Campuskudos will adapt and change over time, which is strikingly similar to my career journey thus far.

adam_biophoto smBio: Adam Saven W’12 is the Co-founder of Campuskudos, the place for alumni to connect with young entrepreneurs and be part of the next big thing. Adam has previously worked at Google, performing data analysis to inform strategy for their Online Partnerships Group. Prior to Google, he was an investment banking analyst in the Global Technology Group of Credit Suisse. Adam completed a Bachelors of Science in Economics from the Wharton School. You can reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at adam@campuskudos.com.