Giving New Grads and Employers a WayUp

Karan Mehandru
Trinity Ventures
Published in
4 min readMar 23, 2017


For employers, finding strong millennial talent can be outright excruciating. What’s even more excruciating: finding those employers if you’re a young millennial. The early career hiring process is inefficient and widely detested by employers and candidates alike, despite the fact that millennials are the single largest generation involved in the US labor force.

For many new college graduates, job hunting is demoralizing, grueling, impersonal, and ultimately disappointing. It’s rare to find those elusive employers who value their skills, interests, and ambitions, plus there’s often a vast disconnect between the graduate’s expectations and a new job’s realities. While the dawn of one’s career should be a time of optimism, unbridled hope and magic, for too many millennials it is instead demotivating, unfulfilling and unsuccessful. With the gloomy statistic that as many as half of college grads ages 22 to 27 are underemployed, the stakes feel higher than ever.

On the employer’s side, recruiting young grads is high-cost, high-effort, difficult to target, and largely ineffective. Recruiting typically involves the use of online job boards plus a few campus visits, budget permitting. The job boards are overly generic, dated, decades-old systems that emphasize quantity over quality. They don’t enable employers to emphasize their unique qualities or values, and they require employers to spend countless mind-numbing hours trudging through mountains of resumes in a process that is as fun and effective as searching for a needle in an acre-sized haystack. Campus visits, while more personal, are expensive and unscalable. As such, most companies restrict themselves to a limited number of geographically convenient target schools. Startups have it particularly tough, as they’re unable to compete with large, deep-pocketed firms chock-full of campus recruiters and generous T&E budgets.

We have known about this market problem for years. At Trinity, we believed that the optimal solution would be built from the ground up specifically for millennials and would engage with them as they first entered the workforce. The ideal platform would enable much-desired efficiencies for employers seeking high-quality graduates by leveraging candidate and employer-specific data for better matching, and creating a friction-less channel through which both sides could exchange targeted content, job descriptions and relevant experience.

This clear market opportunity is one of the two main reasons I’m thrilled to announce Trinity’s investment in WayUp. WayUp provides students and early career professionals a mobile-first product, complete with text messaging and push notifications, that connects them to more than 12,000 potential employers ranging from startups to Fortune 1000 brands like Disney, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Google. WayUp enables employers to utilize 40+ search parameters appropriate for their candidate pool across 3 million current and recent college students — 73% of whom are underrepresented minorities. Rather than wasting resources on archaic, offline recruiting methods, companies can re-purpose those resources with a scalable, actionable digital platform that delivers higher quality candidates and painless hiring. And it works: 1 in 2 job postings result in an offer!

Beyond the market opportunity, the second but equally if not even more important reason I’m excited about our investment in WayUp is the company’s stellar founder and CEO Liz Wessel.

Any VC worth their salt talks about the importance of investing in passionate, dedicated entrepreneurs. This is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for greatness in my opinion. In addition to her obvious passion and dedication, Liz authentically and naturally represents the audience she’s attracting. She’s in tune with the needs of her generation and can articulate those needs to employers in a credible way, providing them with a unique, differentiated understanding of the community and audience she’s serving. In evaluating investment opportunities, I always seek “founder-market” fit; Liz Wessel is the embodiment of this quality. She joins a group of other exceptional entrepreneurs and CEOs that I’m proud and honored to be partnered with who also embody that quality — like Manny Medina at, Andy MacMillan at Act-On Software, Mohit Aron at Cohesity, and several others.

Beyond founder-market fit, Liz possesses that unique combination of grit, humility, hunger and empathy that we seek in entrepreneurial leaders. Her mission-driven approach will guide her to hire and manage teams effectively and destroy competition completely.

With WayUp, Liz and her team have the potential to win the hearts and minds of millennials and early career professionals at a unique juncture in their lives, and then capture them for the long haul. There’s something magical about one’s first post-college job, and it’s made even more inspiring when it hits the sweet spot of passion and qualification. WayUp is delivering magical experiences for candidates who are finding their dream jobs at great companies at the dawn of their careers. These professionals will become lifelong users and brand advocates — who then go on to partner with WayUp not only as candidates but as employers. WayUp has the potential to be the recruiting platform that grows with its users. The market opportunity clearly exists, and I believe there’s no better team to deliver on that potential than Liz and her co-founder JJ.

We are honored to be partnering with Liz, JJ, the entire WayUp team and our friends at General Catalyst as we work to give future generations a WayUp!