How Mattermark Changed my Life
& how I learned to hustle.
Act 1: The Tweet
Before Product Hunt, Twitter was my way of finding the coolest startups. I followed thought-leaders in the Valley, from operators to investors to journalists. As I casually scrolled through my feed on July 16/13, something caught my eye.
A tweet that would change my life.
I had no idea who or what “Mattermark” was, but I knew I wanted to learn more. I had just helped a startup raise their first round of funding and interned at a consulting firm where my boss was an angel investor. The dynamics and economics of venture capital were so interesting to me.
But, back to the story. I knew I had to take action. I quickly followed @Mattermark, @DanielleMorrill, @SparkZilla, @MisterMorrill and signed up for their email list; proud subscriber since Mattermark Weekly #1. I emailed the following day.
… I was so nervous. This was my first interaction with someone in the Valley. I was literally shaking. In my head, I certainly thought they wouldn’t respond. Why bother with a kid from Canada?
Woah! She responded! I think I started jumping up and down. But enough of the excitement, time to get down to business. I spent hours doing research to learn more about Danielle and Andy (I wish there was more stuff about Kevin online). I luckily found their blogs, both of which have been extremely valuable to my life.
There was one post that was especially influential to me. If you have time, I 100% recommend reading it.
I loved one of the quotes so much that it found its way into one of my presentations I did for my school’s entrepreneurship club.
Having hated my life as an accountant, I knew I was capable of more. I knew I wanted to make big things happen.
After a few reschedules, we finally got a chance to speak on the phone. It was one of the most refreshing conversations I’ve ever had. To interact with people who had the same ambitions, passions, dreams and fears as I did was something very rare. We chatted about joining Mattermark as an Analyst and luckily, I made a good impression. But one caveat: I had one more year of school left. We discussed a few options, but ultimately, Andy sent me the following:
Not bad! He really liked me, but it’s just a timing issue. On the bright side, I get to make my parents happy by getting my degree whilst having a really warm lead to joining Mattermark once I graduate and fulfilling my promise to build Nspire in Waterloo.
Win-win, or so I thought.
Act 2: The Wait
Knowing that anything could happen between now and when I graduate, I knew I had to keep my name at the top of their mind. I made the concious decision to double down on Mattermark. This meant ignoring all other opportunities, rejecting offers and solely focusing on keeping the relationship warm and building my skills to ensure I’m ready to take a position on the team.
I suggested articles for MM daily, asked Andy for school advice, e-intro’d Taylor to a lead, drafted a proposal on how to increase Mattermark’s open rates, and joined my University’s venture capital fund to understand Mattermark’s customers better. I even read ‘Venture Deals’ after finding out that every new team member is given a copy. I did whatever I could to have them remember me.
All of this to get my dream job.
Act 3: No response
After 8 months of torturous waiting, I finally graduated. This was it. Time to reach out, close the deal and get to California to help build a unicorn.
I sent an email to Andy, expecting a response.
2 weeks go by… no response. Okay, I get it, he’s super busy. Mattermark went from just 3 founders to a team of 15+. They’re rolling in a bunch of revenue.
Let me try this again…
Another 2 weeks go by… no response.
Did he forget about me? Shit. Maybe my proposal sucked? What do I do now? My parents began to be curious about my California plans. I rejected some really good opportunities for this. I get really nervous. This is the chance I’ve been dreaming about for 8 months. I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone else.
I need to make this happen.
Act 4: The Hustle
After debating and brainstorming my next move, I thought to myself:
“If they’re going to ignore me through email, they can’t ignore me if I’m infront of their face.
But, they’re in San Francisco and I’m in Canada. I’m a broke student and there’s no way I could afford a trip to California. If only they were closer.
Then, a miracle hit.
As I read through the May 1st edition of Mattermark Daily, I find an opportunity I couldn’t pass up: A chance to meet in person. (see left)
I absolutely need to win this contest. No questions asked. Even if I don’t fit the criteria, I’m giving it a shot. So, I wrangle up my friend who’s a fabulous photographer and start brainstorming.
BAM! My entry. I ended up winning the contest. This was my shot to get infront of them. My chance to show them how much I cared about joining Mattermark.
I was willing to do more than anyone else on this planet. Who else would go this far?
But there was one problem, how the hell was I going to get there?
For some odd reason, a short-notice roundtrip from Toronto to Boston was $1,000+. Obviously as a student who just graduated, this would break my budget. But, there was no chance I could miss this opportunity.
Time to be scrappy.
I took a 3-hour Greyhound bus ride from Toronto to Buffalo.
I then took a flight from Buffalo to Chicago. However, just as we’re about to land, the pilot informs us that there’s a fire in the O’Hare control tower. We can’t land. We fly in circles for 2 hours before the pilot then informs us that we’re running out of gas. He opts to land in Grand Rapids, MI to fuel up and wait until the fire issue is resolved. 3 hours later, we get the go-ahead to fly into O’Hare. I’ve never seen a airport in such chaos.
My flight from Chicago to Boston was delayed 9 hours.
I finally get to Boston and I’m absolutely exhausted. I cab to my Airbnb and pull myself together. I tell myself this is all going to be worth it.
I wake up the following morning and it’s gametime, the #NEVYs14. I head on over to Voltage Coffee & Art to get some early morning prep work. I craft my pitch:
This room is full of potential customers. If I get 10 people onto Mattermark from this event, hire me.
I head back to my air bed, throw on my VC-look-a-like attire (blazer and jeans) and head down to the House of Blues.
I walk inside a room full of Boston’s finest in technology, healthcare and finance. I pick myself up a drink at the bar and chit chat with a few founders, all working on something in the healthcare space. I keep my eyes peeled for Danielle and Andy. A few more drinks down and hours pass.
Where are they!?!
They have to be here. They tweeted from Boston. I came all the way from Toronto to meet them.
I walk around the HOB in circles. No sign of their faces.
The event is about to wrap up. I need to make something happen. Danielle and Andy aren’t leaving this room until I see them.
Fuck it, I’m standing beside the exit.
The event empties out.
They aren’t here.
I can safely say that I have never felt so low in my entire life. I hustled so hard, set my expectations in the clouds and ultimately failed. What am I going to tell my parents? What do I tell my friends? How do I explain what happened?
I didn’t know.
I head back to my Airbnb with tears in my eyes.
I couldn’t sleep. Too much on my mind.
I decided to reach out to one of my best friends, Angela Wong (if you’re a startup looking for a kickass marketer — hire her!). We hop onto Skype and I tell her what happened. She told me something that I’ll never forget.
Matt, I know you feel like shit, but I’d be more disappointed if you quit right now. You put so much time and effort, you can’t stop.
She’s right. I can’t quit. One more shot to get their attention. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get back to grinding.
The next morning, I head back to Voltage and brainstorm my next move.
As I reflect on everything that’s happened, I remember my first email I sent to Mattermark. Danielle replied so quickly. What if I send her an email? But her inbox is probably loaded. My email would just get caught up in the noise of founders complaining about their Mattermark score.
How do I make an email that catches her eye? Well, startups are a game of outliers. Outliers are companies that have velocity growth. Growth. Similar to the Mattermark score. HEY! What if I make a Mattermark profile of myself, assign myself a unicorn growth score and send it to her. Bam! That’s it. Time to execute.
After a week of meticulously revising, designing and editing every single pixel, I got it done. I was quite proud of it. It even had a nice call-to-action where when you click ‘Schedule Interview’, it sets up a new email to connect with me.
I sent the email to jobs@, andy@ and danielle@. I pray for a response.
Act 5: Hope!
30 minutes pass by.
YES! I can’t believe she replied. Just like the first time, I start jumping up and down. I cannot contain my excitement.
After some back and forth, Claudia (aka Clara) gives me a few times to speak with Danielle. I make a crucial mistake. I pick one of the later timeslots. What ended up happening was Danielle had to cancel our chat and I was then passed onto the recruiter. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I personally wanted to tell Danielle my story.
Lesson learned: always pick the earliest time slot.
But anyways, I get to speak with their lovely talent lead, Natasha, who was absolutely awesome. I told her my story and she literally responded with, “Woah.” We had a great chat and she puts me through to the next round of interviews with Ben Parks for a technical sales interview. I prepare like crazy. I spend hours learning sales. I emailed every sales person I knew and got them on the phone. I consumed books, articles, videos, anything I could get my hands on. The night before the interview, I get an email at 1AM.
I can’t find the message, but it was something along the lines of:
“Unfortunately, Ben has reviewed your resume and he’s looking for someone with more experience. If any position opens up that you’re interested in, please reach out to me directly.”
This one hurt. I thought I would get this one for sure. Sales is all about hustle, right? How much more could I show them?
I guess this is it. Unfortunately, it’s time to look for something else.
Act 6: Miracle #2
2 weeks pass by and I catch that they’re hiring an Analyst via Mattermark Daily. HALLELUJAH! This is the position I initially talked to Andy about. I email Natasha right away. We set up a call and I knock it out of the park. I was then given a case study with a shortened deadline. I put my heart and soul into it. I didn’t sleep. I even travelled to a cafe in a different city so that I could fully focus and have zero distractions. I send it over and Natasha gives it the thumbs up.
I then speak with Sarah, their data quality lead, and she drills me. Toughest interview of my life. I can say with complete confidence that she is one of the smartest individuals I’ve ever spoken with.
After 4 total interviews and a case study, Natasha informs me that they’re looking for someone more technical and are putting more resources into senior level candidates.
This has been one of the most transformative learning experiences of my entire life. All fueled by the passion to work on something that matters and with people who are insanely smart and determined. I have no doubt in my in mind that Mattermark is going to be a gamechanger.
I’ve learned so much about myself and how far I’m willing to go for something I truly care about. While my future may not be at Mattermark, I know it’s going to be somewhere special.
Time to raise the bar.
@Wade, for grabbing a coffee with me when I was in SF. You have contagious energy and passion.
@Natasha, for being such a great talent lead and helping me along the process.
@Andy, for writing his blog and chatting with me. I never would have thought about being in California if it wasn’t for you. It’s now my dream.
@Danielle, for being an indirect influence in my life. You’re someone I dearly look up to. I hope to meet you one day.