Matt Burns, Senior Editor at TechCrunch, interviews Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, at the Techweek Chicago Summit 2014. Kathryn shares her experience in building a successful startup by having a positive attitude, pursuing the right partnerships, and always listening to customer feedback.

The Muse is a career platform designed to help nearly 50 million people every year answer the question, “What do I want to do with my life and how do I get there?” Kathryn got struck with this idea when she was not satisfied with her job as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and would end up browsing different job sites for something better. The Muse aims to give a behind-the-scene perspective to its users with great content, job listings, and photo and video profiles of companies they are interested in working for.

Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. The Muse Helps in Company Profiling:
    Apart from providing good quality content for job seekers, The Muse aims to also analyze and categorize companies in order to provide an organic combination of both quantitative and qualitative analysis of companies.
  2. The Muse Encourages Diversity and Broad Spectrum to Make it Non-Gender Specific:
    Companies, big or small, rely heavily on professional women today. It is easier for smaller companies to attract a diverse pool of candidates, whereas bigger companies need to be seriously committed to this cause. Big companies are capable of inviting bigger market players, for example, in 2011 these market players for The Muse were Monster, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn.
  3. How Can Startups Suck Less?
    No startup is perfect right from the beginning. Launching an ugly version of The Muse is a smart move to embrace the “suck part of startups” as one need not try to solve every problem all at once. Entrepreneurs need to take more risks.
  4. Funding Experience – Y Combinator:
    Kathryn expressed that the Y Combinator seed funding was an awesome experience and a major lesson she learned was “to go to the market with minimal features to get better user feedback depending on the industry.” Kathryn is critical towards finding the right partner and getting the right kind of feedback from customers who otherwise are not quite inclined to offer it.
  5. Advice for Sucking Less as a Startup:
    Just focus on the following factors –
    a) Talk to the actual users and value their feedback
    b) Do not accept ‘NO’ as the final answer. You must be persistent in order to achieve your goals. Kathryn, in order to make her business suck less, encourages users to understand their job roles, identify their likes and dislikes when it comes to tasks and responsibilities, and do a thorough research before accepting a job offer.

Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:

  • 0:10 – Matt Burns, Senior Editor at TechCrunch, begins the interview session with Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO, The Muse
  • 0:15 – The Muse is a career discovery platform started in 2011, which has evolved over the years through brilliant partnerships
  • 2:42 – The Muse offers company profiles, which involves both workforce and workplace analysis
  • 4:30 – The Muse focuses on diversity and has moved to a broader spectrum with mass browsing
  • 10:43 – Lessons learned from the Y Combinator seed funding has helped The Muse to deliver better results
  • 15:35 – Kathryn has drawn her plans of action in case she receives a major cash boost now
  • 19:08 – Kathryn offers advice on how one can get a good job without plugging into The Muse
  • 20:52 – Q&A – How to acknowledge that a current business is sucking and needs to be stopped?
  • 23:42 – Q&A – How difficult is it to bring big brands onto the website and how does it help in the long run?


Founder and CEO of The Muse