Fellow Profile — Nico DiPlacido

University: Western University

Major: Media Theory

Startup: GrowSumo

City: Toronto, Ontario

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

What does your startup do?

GrowSumo (YC ’15) is on a mission to build the world’s largest sales team.

Our goal is to enable every company in the world to empower everyday people with the tools and resources necessary to successfully promote brands they trust and support.

Check us out at Growsumo.com

Describe a typical day at your startup: (role, day-to-day)

I’m Head of Community at GrowSumo, where I ensure the success of all Growsumo users on both sides of the marketplace.

As a team our week starts with a 20-minute all hands stand up where we review active projects and the tasks associated with them. We use Asana to manage all this.

My day then generally runs like this:

  • 10 minutes: Make an espresso, catch up with the team, and scroll through TheNews.im (which aggregates Design News, Hacker News, and Product hunt).
  • 30 minutes: Triage active project in Asana
  • 45 Minutes: Run through my inbox not skipping an email. Each message is either answered, “Boomeranged” to deal with at a better time, or archived with a new task in Asana. I hit “inbox zero” daily. Same thing with our Intercom chats.
  • 1–2 hours: Follow up with any developers who are integrating with Growsumo. (hey kids, learn some JavaScript)
  • 2–3 hours: Success calls with enterprise accounts. Reviewing or launching their influencer program.
  • 2–3 hours: Research and recruit influencers for our target verticals.
  • 30 minutes: get destroyed in a board game by our co-founder Luke, thus temporarily ruining my self esteem.

Fridays include a team lunch followed by a 90-minute product meeting where we review our progress, triage issues, and break new features into smaller projects for the next week.

What do you love about working at a startup? (What are the benefits of working at a startup?)

Because “startup” is used very broadly these days I’m going to narrow the definition down to working at a company that is pre Series A and less than ten employees. After that threshold I think the experience varies substantially.

There are a ton of commonly cited reasons to work in startups: the joy of building something people (hopefully) want; the increased responsibility, experience, and exposure compared to a more established company; the scrappiness of an ambitious make–or–break team.

My core enjoyment of being an early stage startup employee comes from the unique opportunity to tackle sales, marketing, product development, data science, customer success, and support in the span of a single week.

Outside of founding your own company, an early stage employee has the remarkable opportunity of playing a foundational role in a startup on the cusp of product-market fit. You see first hand what growth really looks like. What it takes to land the first enterprise client. Managing runway. Raising money. And, most importantly, a raw and honest look at what it takes to build a business.

What’s a social issue that you are particularly passionate about?

I had a profoundly eye opening look at epidemic of youth struggling with their Mental Health while on the Emergency Response Team at Western University.

The issues within the Canadian mental health system are complex, but everyone can do their part to reduce the stigma and support each other.

To do my part, I’m a speaker with Jack.org — a national network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health. Each month I speak with high school and college students across Canada to reduce the stigma around mental health.

What’s your favorite book?

Man’s Search for Meaning — Viktor E. Frankl
Bonus Round: The Power of Now — Eckhart Tolle

If you could tell your third year university student self one piece of advice, it would be to….

(Even better for my 1st year self). Take a moment at the start of each semester to contemplate what you’re studying and what you aspire to do. Ask yourself “why?” at least 4 times. Question the source of your aspirations. What’s the real goal under the superficial one. You’re not “stuck” on any path.

What is the best part of being a Venture for Canada Fellow?

The best part of being a part of Venture for Canada is absolutely the people. It’s wonderful to have a connected network of bright, driven, young professionals who are all looking out for each other.

It’s like the best group I’ve ever been assigned too, except this time the project is life.

What do you hope to accomplish in your career?

I’m very interested in emergency medicine — which is a big career pivot down the line. Until then the goal is to help founders turn early stage ideas into thriving businesses. And maybe take my side hustle out of stealth-mode at some point.

Why should someone apply to Venture for Canada?

You should apply to Venture for Canada for the same reason you should apply to other professional networks, schools, and interview for jobs you’re not entirely qualified for: to learn a ton about yourself in the process.

You should apply specifically to Venture for Canada if you’re interested in working with awesome Canadian tech companies. Really, just apply.

What is the most important skill you gained as a fellow?

Certainly the importance of your network. .

What qualities do you need to succeed in a startup?

You need to learn that it’s okay to be not okay. Find comfort in being uncomfortable. If you can’t settle into the grind you only make your own hill that much steeper.

Describe your most memorable experience as a fellow.

Had a blast in Kingston especially when everyone found out I did an Ironman. Shoutout to Hima 👋

What advice can you offer to future fellows?

My favourite ultra-running quote: “It never always gets worse.” 
Morning will come. Keep moving. Be a cockroach.