Written by Jasmine Hon
Where did you meet your last employer?
Correction: Where did you meet your last two employers?
For young entrepreneur Zach McGrenere, the answer would be Startup Drinks – a networking event frequently hosted by Startup London for people in the city. Zach spoke about his appreciation for events like this, describing them to be honest environments with no pressure or hidden agenda. It’s simply a place for members of the community to meet and get to know one another better.
“If it wasn’t for Startup Drinks, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would still be in Toronto, working for Synacor and hating life.”
Something really interesting that differentiates Zach from many other young workers in the city is that he has experience working in both a large company and small startups – and it wasn’t long before I discovered which he preferred.
A large company, Zach explained, is very top-down. The people at the top give you orders, and you follow them. There are no round-table discussions or idea brainstorming sessions – you simply do as you are told. “I felt like I was kept in the dark a lot of the times, and I was really unsatisfied since I wasn’t able to think for myself or make my own decisions. I think everyone has cool ideas and should be given a fair shot at expressing them,” he said.
Now Zach works for Scratchd, a startup in the city of London, and he can already tell from his two weeks of work that he loves it. Scratchd is a highly-innovative company that provides unique and interactive digital platforms for businesses to reach their customers.
Unlike his job at Synacor, Zach feels passionate about his work with Scratchd. He doesn’t mind putting in long hours because he is given creative control and the opportunity to actively implement his own ideas. “You’re not just treated as an employee,” smiled Zach, “you’re expected to be creative, and you definitely have a lot more control over what you’re doing.”
Something else that’s really interesting about Zach McGrenere?
He doesn’t have a degree, yet he’s worked hard, shown great potential, and quickly acquired the necessary skills to move up. When asked for his advice for people starting their careers, he said, “Don’t stop. Just hit it as hard as you can. Be as creative as you can. Be relentless. And don’t sell yourself short.”
Zach never would’ve thought that he’d get a job – let alone two – through Startup Drinks. In fact, he only decided to go the first time because his friend invited him to tag along. Zach said that the event allowed him to meet a lot of people he wouldn’t have met otherwise, like the founder of Warpaint Media, his current employer, and many entrepreneurs in the city. “Attending these events is key,” said Zach, “There is a rise in startups in London. I don’t know if it’s always been happening or if I’ve just started to pay attention – but they are definitely there and doing some really cool things.”
As a student pursuing a career in business, this conversation has opened my eyes to many new opportunities as well.
I never realized all the advantages of working for a startup. I am only ever exposed to big company names – the ones seen in the news or ones invited by my school for business presentations – so the idea of working for a startup never really crossed my mind. But now that it has, I am beginning to reconsider my career options. Getting more ideas at Startup Drinks seems like a good place to start.
About the writer
Jasmine Hon is a first-year student studying Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT) at Western University with Advanced Entry Opportunity (AEO) to the Richard Ivey School of Business. While her interests lie within the fields of journalism and business, she is uncertain as to the kind of career she’d like to pursue in the future. For now, Jasmine is just greatly inspired by the entrepreneurs she’s met to continue working hard and discovering more about her passions. In her spare time, this eighteen-year-old is often spotted exploring the city of London, visiting the farmer’s market, or tapping away furiously on her laptop in various coffee shops around the city.