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Career Story: President Of An Internet Startup

President Of An Internet Startup

Job Title: President

Type of Company: My company is focused on transitioning obituary classifieds from print to online.

Education: BS - Computer Science, UMass •• MS - Applied Management, Lesley College

Previous Experience: I worked for 10 years in enterprise software in a variety of product and program management roles and then for 10 years as the VP, Marketing - Chief of Staff of an Internet startup that the enterprise software company that I worked for spun out of their operations taking the company from inception to IPO to ultimate acquisition. In the first year of the acquisition I acted as General Manager of the entire operation focused on transitioning resources and technology to the new owner.

After that I had a brief stint as the VP of Product and Services for a small Internet company in Providence and then spent two years in various executive roles in a new Internet startup focused on creating a lifestyle brand for 50+. In the 2nd half of 1997 we spun out a piece of that business into a separate company and I am now president of that.

Job Tasks: My company is an Internet startup focused on transitioning the last newspaper classifieds section which hasn't made a meaningful transition from print to online - obituary classifieds - to the Internet. We work directly with funeral homes across the country to help them create obituary areas on their web sites and to post their obituary content on our national web site making it easier for families to communicate information about their loved one to friends and extended family. We also provide easy-to-use tools which allow families to truly tell the rich stories of their loved ones lives with multi-media - i.e. photos, video, music, etc - without the limitations of print.

As President I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company across all functional areas - product, engineering, sales, customer support, finance and administration - and ultimately for driving the success of my team. I am also responsible for communicating status to our board of directors and investors and interacting with existing and potential partners.

A typical day is spent in a lot of meetings, on conference calls, and responding to and sending email helping assist my team in setting and managing priorities, analyzing corporate performance across a number of key metrics, making decisions on product requirements, strategizing on marketing and branding efforts, managing expenses, presenting our business solutions to new partners, negotiating contracts and being a general resource for my team.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the fact that I get to be involved in all aspects of the operation of my company and am ultimately responsible for our success or failure. The most challenging part of my job is managing people and their interactions with each other, especially in a fast-paced, high-stress environment where there is a lot of pressure on the team and tensions can run high.

Job Tips: People ascend to the role of president from a lot of different pathways and functional areas in the business world. I grew up in product and marketing roles and always had a lot of cross-functional operational and/or project management responsibilities in those roles which helped me gain important experience and visibility. But people ascend into the top ranks of a company through sales, finance, and engineering. The most important piece of advice I can give is to get a good MBA regardless of what your undergraduate degree is in after you've had some work experience first so you appreciate your course work more and can bring some real world experience to your classes.

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