Students at Startups: Mike Wiendels from Ace & Tate

Students at Startups: Mike Wiendels from Ace & Tate

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In this series we will profile recent graduates who landed a job at a startup, either right after graduating or after a long and tough quest. First one out the gate is HvA international business graduate Mike Wiendels, who started at mega-hip glasses startup Ace&Tate in November 2016 after a successful internship as part of his Growth Hacking Course at The Talent Institute.

What was your initial plan after graduating from international business at the HvA?
After graduating in July of 2015 I initially was considering doing a Masters in entrepreneurship at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, as I wanted to become an entrepreneur or work at a startup. Instead I landed an internship at a startup called Recruitee, where I started in September of 2015. As is often the case with internships at startups, this was basically like a proper job within the second week. It was a six month internship and I learnt a lot. Then I found out about the Growth Hacking Course from the The Talent Institute. It was good that I already had a foundation of skills and experience before I started, as the fast-paced mentality in the startup world is very different from life as a student.

What skills did you learn at The Growth Hacking Course?
A wide range of skills, in particular the methodology of growth hacking. This involves a lot of high-paced experimenting and testing.

So isn’t Growth Hacking just the new name for Business Development? Can you explain the differences between Growth Hacking and BDM?
The key difference between Growth Hacking and traditional marketing, is that a marketeer mainly wants to reach people, while a growth hacker really looks at return customers and their level of satisfaction. Growth isn’t necessarily external, growth can also can from inside a company, by improving its processes and listening to customers’ needs.
Growth Hacking really enables you to define at which points customers decide to stay and where they turn away.

Was it hard for you to find a job at a happening startup like Ace & Tate?
Not at all actually as I landed an internship there as part of the Growth hacking Course. They offered me a contract once the internship was over. I do facebook ads and Conversion Optimisation there. I now also do acquisition, as we have a really strong brand and we want to build on that.

So let’s get this straight; you are working at Ace & Tate now while you do not wear glasses?
Yeah that’s right, all my colleagues wear our glasses though.

Have most of your classmates from the Talent Institute landed jobs already as well?
Almost everyone in the program has already found a job, and that while we are only just the second batch of Guinea pigs really. It turns out companies really need people with our skills.

What unique skills did they teach you at the course that you didn’t know already from your business education? What was “the stuff they didn’t teach you at school” that you found about, and that employers are looking for?
You really learn to use all the right tools. You get an in-depth understanding of Google analytics and social media, while you really find out how to properly look at your website. Additionally you also learn to understand how to set up conversion experiments

You now mentioned experiments a few times already, it makes it sound like you’re doing chemistry?
It sort of is in a way. We test several versions of a webpage for instance, to see which one gets a better click-through rate. The best one wins, and we imply that one in our next campaign.

So it sounds like you say marketeers tend to throw a lot of stuff at the wall to find out afterwards what will stick, where as growth hackers you research his beforehand?
That’s exactly it. We really need to think outside of the regular campaigns by the marketeers, in order to be able to test what will work beforehand.

Anything else you would like to say to anyone reading this?
Yes, I would like to say to all students: if you are considering working at a startup, go do it now! It is hard enough to find work as it is already and it won’t get any easier. Working at a startup is very hands-on and you really learn skills they won’t teach you at a large corporate company, so it is an excellent opportunity to learn a lot in a short amount of time. As I said before: the mentality from the startup world is really very different from that of the student world.