Why we shut down TalentTrail: Reasons & Lessons
Why we shut down TalentTrail: Reasons & Lessons business stories

sydneyverified co-creator of Commaful
Autoplay OFF   •   4 years ago
TalentTrail was a job matching site that helped students find internships. We recently decided to shut it down.

Thank you to the endless people who helped us. A special thank you to our advisers, Galen and Glenn. Thank you to our amazing investor Eric. Thank you to amazing mentors, including Ian, Paul, Greg, and many more. And of course people who worked with us on the journey: Trey, Parker, Justin, Kevin.

Why we shut down TalentTrail: Reasons & Lessons

TalentTrail was eHarmony of entry level jobs and internships

Our dream was to make the career process easier.

We worked with amazing companies and students

We were lucky to work with companies like Tinder, Acorns, Secret, DoorDash, Zenefits, and many fast growing companies. We had amazing students from Stanford, USC, Berkeley, Harvard, & 100+ more.

We worked with amazing people.

Thank you to Galen, the co-founder of eHarmony, and Glenn, a recruiter at Apple, for helping us every step of the way on this journey. We had amazing mentors and friends who helped us.

Reasons For Shutting Down

It wasn't easy. We were still growing and some people had told us we changed their lives.

1. People didn't like the matching

People would rather apply everywhere & take their chances. "Why only get a few matches when you could apply everywhere?" People asked. This was a huge part of our value, and people didn't like it

2. We were growing because of another, marginal, advantage

People used us because we had "cool" companies.. They told us they didn't care about the product much. They cared that we had Tinder or Secret. Ultimately, they liked us for our marketplace.

3. The impact was no longer clear

We believed that we could make the career process easier, but people disliked matching. We wondered how much impact our product could actually have. How much better was it than others?

We made a few different iterations. Spent 2 years.

Ultimately, we didn't figure it out. The problem still exists. Somebody will solve it.

We think TalentTrail could have made a solid business

The current product but with more growth could have been a business and I'm sure we could have made some discoveries along the way. It just didn't seem like it would transform the industry.

So we had to make the really really hard call

Some Lessons

1. Would your users be sad if you took your product away?

Truth is, not really for TalentTrail. Even having 1 user who would be extremely upset says a lot. I would have focused on this a lot more: Satisfying the users so much that they loved TalentTrail

2. Talk to mentors who worked IN YOUR SPACE

Spending time with the founders of CareerBuilder, Internships.com, CollegeFeed, GlassDoor, and more were extremely helpful. They gave us so many shortcuts to help us move faster.

3. The mentors that ask great questions

Some of our most helpful mentors asked us really tough questions to push us in the right direction. They go beyond the obvious. They're hard to come by, but sooo helpful to the business.

4. Focus

Have growth goals and product goals. Do only things that will help you advance those goals and hit upcoming milestones. Everything else can wait (they have to wait).

5. You have to follow up via email. A LOT.

TalentTrail involved a lot of direct sales to companies. That's A LOT of cold emailing. Sometimes I had to follow up over 7 times before I got a response.

6. We were guilty of fake work

Some conferences frankly were not worth the time. Some decisions frankly didn't move the needle. Some meetings were unnecessary. Focus Focus Focus.

7. Celebrate the small wins

Startups are hard. You hit the grind fast. One week feels awesome, but the emotional tide turns fast. Celebrate the little victories.

TalentTrail, thank you for the memories

We learned so much and helped some great people.

Questions? Comments?

Comment below and we'll answer any questions about TalentTrail and what's next.

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