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From basecamp to the summit

July 8, 2015
By David Chang

Last week nToggle welcomed David Chang, local entrepreneur, angel investor and former head of the PayPal Boston office, to our Lunch and Learn Series. Not only did he share with us the remarkable story of his career path, but he also gave us great insight on some business lessons he learned along the way.

From Big to Little

The combination of talent, capital and supporting ecosystem makes Boston a unique place for innovation. Though I am a New York native, we are firmly planted here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. I started my career at a big public company, but I’ve found my true passion in working with startups as a team member, investor, advisor, and friend. I’m excited to share some of my experiences and what I’ve witnessed over the past 15 years with nToggle’s interns on how to build their career paths.

Know Yourself

When facing career decisions, there are four major factors to consider–location, job function, industry and company size. You may have lots of flexibility on some factors, but very little wiggle room on others. All together, these four factors serve as a blueprint for your career choices as you find companies that match those criteria . Know what’s important to you at any given stage and how that blueprint positions you for the next stage.

Start or Join

It’s awesome to meet new, eager entrepreneurs who want to start their own companies. If this describes you, first ask yourself why? Is it for the freedom? The adrenaline? The satisfaction?

You don’t have to start your own company to fulfill these desires. Don’t overlook an opportunity to join a startup. Most startups originate with veterans from larger companies, and the founders will likely have deep, relevant experience that you can use to jumpstart your own growth. Starting a company is a beautiful thing but joining the right team can be just as amazing.

Find the Right Co-Founders

If you do start a company, it’s critical to find the right co-founders. You and your co-founders must be aligned with respect to how fast you want to grow the venture and your values. It is nearly impossible to succeed when one co-founder pushes for financial gains while the other pushes for a high degree of control. Noam Wasserman describes these tradeoffs well in The Founder’s Dilemma.

Articulate Your Basecamp and Summit Strategy

When pitching your startup to prospective investors, you must set expectations as you describe your vision. Clearly distinguish what you perceive to be your achievable near-term milestone “the basecamp” and your ultimate goal “the summit.” If your audience confuses one for the other, you will lose their interest by having too low of a ceiling or lose credibility by sounding unrealistic.

To the nToggle team, particularly the interns, you’ll likely face these situations at some point in your career, if you haven’t already.

It is refreshing to see that you are not only passionate for the technology produced at nToggle, but for your personal development in entrepreneurship. Whether you are at nToggle or elsewhere, be ready to address your weaknesses and adapt to unexpected challenges throughout your career. It was a pleasure to spend an hour with such a talented set of summer interns, and big thanks to Adam Soroca and the rest of the nToggle team for creating the summer lunch & learn series. You’ve already achieved so much in your academic careers, and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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