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Firsthand builds SaaS platforms that connect students and alumni one-on-one for career advice at over 100 universities, including Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge.
Dawson's Creek. Meatpacking. Investment Banking. Three things that didn’t seem to go together ended up serving as inspiration for something that ultimately did: Firsthand.
It was January 2005 and after applying to an unmentionable number of investment banking internships his junior year of college, Fredrik was left with a single offer to interview with a boutique investment bank in New York. As a onetime Norwegian Army squad leader, inspired to go to college in the U.S. from watching too much Dawson's Creek, Fredrik was frustrated with how difficult it was to get into great colleges and jobs as an outsider. He'd spent his previous summers working on the assembly line of a meat processing plant in his hometown of Stavanger, Norway. The investment banking interview was a chance to justify moving stateside for school and start repaying some serious school loans. But how to make meatpacking sound relevant to a career in investment banking and nail this interview?
Help came from his fraternity brother Matt, who had interned at the boutique investment bank the year before. "What you have here, is firsthand manufacturing experience. This is a bank that buys and sells manufacturing firms. That makes you uniquely valuable!" Matt reassured. "And mention your military background. These guys like to think of themselves as the paratroopers of investment banking. Use that word: 'Paratooper.' I guarantee you they will like it!" And without divulging any interview questions or answers, Matt went on to describe the bank's people and culture.
Fredrik got the job. And after a stint on Wall Street and in management consulting, found himself at Harvard Business School, surrounded by people like Matt, with valuable professional experience, who were helping classmates land great jobs. Which was great for the kids lucky enough to be a part of the Harvard network, but what about the other hard working and talented candidates out there who didn't have such a privileged network?
Hence the idea for Firsthand was born. A platform where everyone could find their Matt; where every job-seeker, no matter where they came from, could compete on an equal footing for great jobs. What started as "Evisors" with a $500 prototype built on Elance with 250 classmates signed up to be advisors, quickly grew to platforms at 100+ universities, including Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge where tens of thousands of students and alumni were connecting for on-demand one-on-one career advice.
As Firsthand grows, our goal is to connect millions of job seekers and alumni, and to bring employers into the equation. Every major company today has an army of alumni informally offering career advice about their former employer. Firsthand's vision is to simplify, multiply, and empower those interactions so that the best candidates find their way to the best jobs, with the best possible prep and clear path for outsiders to get a referral and a foot in the door. In short, our mission is to democratize careers and our vision is to do that by becoming the world's greatest job referral platform