I cannot believe that we have been home from TechTrek for almost two weeks now. I have been eagerly awaiting the visit to New York City with TechTrek since I submitted my application on the morning of Marathon Monday, and just like that it has come and went. I am so grateful for the amazing opportunities that TechTrek has provided and am confident that this will be one of the highlights of my Boston College experience. It was incredible to be able to sit down with high level executives of companies we had been studying for weeks and be able to pick their brains about their entrepreneurial experience and their struggles and successes throughout their journeys. I was so especially inspired by the BC alumni who had once been in my position and are now leaders in the tech scene of New York City. Throughout the visits, I noticed themes that occurred and to my surprise not all of them were strictly about business…
Before TechTrek, I knew that I was interested in marketing and as social media has become one of the driving forces of marketing, I anticipate using technology for most of my career. What I was unaware of, however, is how quickly tech is growing and transforming. By visiting different companies from small startups to well established businesses, I was able to get a hands-on understanding of how important and influential tech and data are in every business and how companies are continuously changing their structure to adapt to the developments that tech brings. Specifically, Johnny Ayers, cofounder of Socure, was kind enough speak honestly about how Socure originally solved the wrong problem and had to completely pivot their business strategy to reach a better product market fit. Hugh Dineen, CMO of Metlife, also touched on adaptability when he explained how AI is going to change the way the jobs in the world exist. It is inevitable; AI is here and rapidly transforming. That being said, the people element is still crucial and it is up to Dineen and other CMOs to change their marketing strategy to align with these adjustment.
Encourage a Welcoming and Supportive Company Culture
Almost every company we visited in New York had an open layout with no cubicles to encourage equality and make everyone feel like they can have an impact within their company. Handy specifically stood out to me because their CEO, Oisin Haranhan’s, desk is a seat at a table filled with other employees. Clearly Oisin leads the company, but his strategic desk positioning exemplifies his desire for an open culture where each employee can voice their opinion and have a direct influence.
Google also encouraged a supportive culture as they continue to ensure their employees are happy and is growing. It was fascinating to see how important a welcoming culture which promotes learning and employee engagement was to a small startup and a large established company alike.
Although starting your own business is a life-changing experience with an unlimited amount of rewards, the journey is a rollercoaster of hard work, stress, anger and sadness. Thus, many of the founders and executives reinforced that you MUST be passionate about your brand to reap the benefits. Michael Wystrach, founder of Freshly, comes to mind when discussing passion. He reiterated that incremental happiness eventually declines as you progress in building your company. He said that you must have the mindset that you are fundamentally changing the course of the world to never give up when times get tough. Simon Burg, CEO of Ceros also discussed passion at length and even has his new employees give a “passion presentation” on anything you are excited about, upon accepting a job at Ceros. Burg explained that people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it, so it is important to be passionate about every job you have. Passion is not only important in your work, but also in your life in general. Jason Gross, CEO of Petal, exemplified passion during our Finetech panel hosted by Socure as he talked about how he deals with competition. Petal strives to help one another with their competition, rather than rivaling one another. Petal’s main goal is to reduce credit inequality and give everyone the opportunity to get a credit score; they are clearly passionate about this because they want to work alongside competition to achieve this goal. It was inspiring to listen to executives who were so eager about their products and how they will affect all of society.
Overall, I would rate my TechTrek experience 13/10. If you had told me this time last year that I would go on a trip to visit over 20 companies and talk with their executives and fellow Eagles, I would have never believed you. I could not be happier with where I am today. TechTrek East has been such an influential experience for my college career that affected who I will be as an employee as well as a person overall, and I will remember it forever.