Friday, April 20, 2012

    Old Interview Questionaire

    Couple months ago, I was interviewing for an internship at a online education startup.  It was the most intense interview process I have ever been through, consisting of 3 Skype sessions with the marketing team, 1 phone call with the founder and a long questionnaire.  I ended up getting an offer, but turned it down to work at InternMatch.

    Below are my responses to the questionnaire, which gives a good representation of my thought process, skills as well as glimpses of my personality .

    If you did not already do this, please write 2 concise paragraphs explaining why you are interested in working at Company X.

    A few weeks into starting my first startup internship at, I bought the Lean Startup lecture series from Company X.  Since then each time I logged on, I saw Company X getting bigger and better with each iteration.  In addition, I kept reading about how Company X was the future of online learning on GigaOm and TechCrunch.  With all that in mind, when it came to apply for summer internships, Company X was a no brainer.  

    However, more than just wanting to join a promising company, I want to work with a cutting edge team.  Being at and hanging around the startup scene in the bay, San Diego and Shanghai have given me an appreciation of the companies that 500 Startups invests in.  I strongly believe that if Dave puts his money down on a startup, it must mean they have a great team.  Steel sharpens steel and I am looking to learn from the best, which I see happening at Company X.         

    Provide 2-3 “crazy ideas” for things Company X isn’t doing today that could have a HUGE impact on our success. 

    (For this question I went increasingly more crazy with each idea) 

    Offer package deals or subscriptions to clubs, organizations, corporations and schools
    Quickly sign up a large number of users by soliciting them all at once via their club, organization, company or school.  Organizations are always looking to help their members grow and develop new skills, so the idea of affordable courses that their members can take on their own time would be appealing.  User acquisition costs would also go down because Company X would be chasing a smaller number of leads. In addition, Company X would get a big boost in credibility by having major corporations and organizations signed on to the platform. 

    Meetups/Schedule office hours for popular courses 
    Utilizing a service like or to start building a physical community through meals, happy hours or coffee meet ups.  Using one of those services to connect instructors with their students or students with each other; call the meetings office hours or study groups to give them an academic feel.  Perhaps even charge in a fee per person for the meeting and offer the instructors a cut of the fee as an incentive to show up.  Company X can sell tickets to the meetings as an add on to the course.

    Get on national television
    A tried and true publicity stunt is having sports fans hold up placards to make a billboard.  Bribing fans with some coupons for food or drink that they could redeem at the park or stadium would most likely convince them to hold a piece of cardboard for a minute or two.  The message could be something short and sweet like "learn online" before switching to the Company X logo in order for TV viewers to quickly get it the message of what Company X is about.  This stunt may have a higher chance of success at a college game, where security is more lax and students are more enthusiastic about holding signs. This is possibly the cheapest way to get on national television, with hot dogs costing no more than $10 each and requiring only a couple hundred, at most a thousand fans to create a large enough billboard.

    Name a real person (who you don’t know) that should be an instructor on Company X. Draft a sample cold email that could be sent to him/her inviting them to create a course on Company X.

    As one of the most decorated grapplers and a living legend in the sport, many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students look up to you and are dying to learn from you.  Unfortunately, due to factors like distance and cost, most of them will never get the opportunity to train with you at your New York academy.  

    But now with Company X, students anywhere in the world can still learn from you.      

    More reasons to teach on Company X:

    70,000 courses viewed a month and skyrocketing
                    - Catch up to and surpass the Gracie University in no time
    Company X is mobile
                    - Students can take your lessons onto the matt with their smartphones
    Lower costs and less time
                    - No more minting DVDs, processing payments 
                    - Learn a variation in competition? Update the lesson instantly!
    Interact across the world
                    - Quickly and easily answer questions with students through the site
    Email me back and I can walk you through the set up process so you can start teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the world. 

    Jonathan Lau
    Company X Sports Representative

    Provide a link to something funny. 
    (Led to a Rick Roll page on my blog)

    So let's get real :-). We're a startup. We work very hard. 12 hour days are the norm (not the exception) and we typically work multiple hours on the weekend. Is that cool with you? *

    Not a problem! At my CAUSE internship in LA I worked overnight at the office during crunch time and even slept on the office floor once.  Currently at we hacker hours on a regular basis.

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