Making $15K/Month Connecting Interns With Companies Looking For Talent

$15K
revenue/mo
3
Founders
3
Employees
product
Techintern.io
from Toronto
started October 2020
$15,000
revenue/mo
3
Founders
3
Employees
398K
alexa rank
23
followers
market size
$152B
avg revenue (monthly)
$7.5K
starting costs
$15K
gross margin
90%
time to build
7 months
growth channels
SEO
best tools
Slack, Notion
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
tips
2 Tips
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, I’m Kingsong, CEO of Techintern.io. We connect startups and tech companies with the best software developer students at colleges across North America like Waterloo, Harvard, Berkeley, and more. We work with startups to hire really strong and motivated technical interns, many of who have experience at top companies like Google or Facebook.

We also work with larger tech companies that are interested in diversifying their talent pipeline to hire diverse technical interns from smaller colleges and diverse student groups.

We’ve worked with companies like Afterpay, Zumper, and Yugabyte and recently achieved #1 Product of the Day and #2 Product of the Week on Product Hunt.

making-15k-mo-by-connecting-interns-with-companies-looking-for-talent

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I had done some tech consulting with my cofounders Qile Wang and Daniel Lee and noticed that a lot of startups were growing quickly, raising a lot of funding, and needed to hire tech talent quickly. Around the same time, many large tech companies had paused their internships programs during the pandemic and so a lot of very strong developers lost their internships. I realized that this was a perfect match and so my co-founders and I started to connect these companies with students individually. As we got more demand, we decided to scale the process and start building a web application.

Working on the right product or the right fast-growing industry will make every part of your job easier. An idea with a strong market demand will make it easier to get beta testers, receive feedback, do marketing, hire, and more.

I am a YC founder and have also worked previously with companies in the blockchain space. I validated the demand side by reaching out to different companies to see if they would consider hiring a technical intern. My co-founders are recent University of Waterloo graduates and we are very connected to different student groups and tech events.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Our early process included talking to companies to figure out their needs whether it was for design, frontend, backend, product management, or developer evangelism. We then connected with the strongest student developers we knew to see if they were interested in working at the startup in the role. The early process was very manual and included stitching together PDFs of resumes and sharing spreadsheets with the companies to look through.

This process was both tedious and difficult for us and the companies but necessary to find product-market fit. As it became clearer that there was real demand, we started to develop a web application to simplify the submission and review process for both students and companies.

Initially, our focus was on early-stage startups and experienced technical interns. However, word of mouth spread, and larger companies started to approach us to find technical interns such as Afterpay and Mozilla. Larger companies had an additional goal of wanting to diversify their talent pipeline and so we continued to connect with students at smaller colleges and diverse technical groups.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Our launch came very organically from market demand. I was already talking to a lot of startups from my tech consulting and noticed that technical talent was in high demand. I started with companies in my network first and then slowly branched out.

Being flexible initially and getting feedback from the entire sales process were very important. At the same time being firm with certain criteria and payment is important to get results. We wanted to attract strong interns and so had a strict rule to only accept paid internships. We noticed that companies that were hesitant to pay for interns or pay our fee were not a good fit overall as they were likely not organized enough to take on technical interns. Many times we would spend a lot of time convincing them only for them to later realize they weren’t able to support a technical intern. We now end these conversations earlier as we know those are signs that the company is not a good fit.

We also continue to try different segments of customers to draw interesting conclusions. One area is more traditional companies that are building an eCommerce or technical division. We’ve started to work with these companies to help them set up a technical intern program and hire their first technical interns.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

One of our most successful marketing efforts was our Product Hunt launch. We believed that its audience, consisting mostly of people in the tech industry, would be receptive to Techintern.io. After planning and hustling on the day of our launch, we achieved #1 Product of the Day and #2 Product of the Week.

making-15k-mo-by-connecting-interns-with-companies-looking-for-talent Daily Unique Users — Techintern.io’s Product Hunt Spike (via Posthog.com)

The launch was a huge success and led to 30% more companies signing up. It also led to us connecting with Mozilla.

I also wrote a guide on how did it, our top tips for launching on Product Hunt and the metrics and results we gained from the launch. Here are some of the things you can do to help you push your Product Hunt post on the big day:

  • Set up groups of friends where you can drop links to your and other social media posts for them to promote throughout the day.
  • Check for followers of Product Hunt on different social networks to see who likely already has an account, as their upvotes will carry more weight. Ask your friends to do the same and keep a list of people to reach out to during the day of.
  • Write different copy texts and create images for your own social media posts and examples for friends to post to help promote.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We charge per intern hire and are working with more companies every month. Most of our costs are personnel as the main functions are improving our web application and connecting with more technical students and companies.

We are currently profitable and also able to hire our own interns through a grant from the Government of Canada. We have not spent money on ads yet and are currently connecting with companies through referrals through our network and cold emails, which result in the majority of companies. We will soon be experimenting with more marketing ideas similar to the Product Hunt launch and engaging more with PR.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The main lesson has been to pay close attention to the entire sales process to figure out what profile of customer is best and hone in on our target market. We initially talked to a lot of smaller startups that didn’t have the funding or weren’t set up well enough to expand their hiring. They took up a lot of time but would still drop off after interviewing a few students.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use a lot of startup tools and especially those of our customers. We run our company and community on Discord and use Notion for internal documents.

We use Retool to create dashboards and views to organize and derive insights from our student and company data. We use Posthog to track analytics on our website and see how well our marketing efforts are performing. We also use magic.link to take care of user authentication.

For marketing, we use Hubspot to track students.

For sales, we use Close CRM and Journey to share an overview on our platform.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

There are a lot of great business books on overall strategy but I wanted to share some more specific actionable resources. Marketing Examples and GoodUI are very good resources, alongside Trends.co and Demand Curve for new trends and full guides on different types of growth marketing.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Working on the right product or the right fast-growing industry will make every part of your job easier. An idea with a strong market demand will make it easier to get beta testers, receive feedback, do marketing, hire, and more.

Instead of approaching a business solution first, it’s much easier, in the long run, to pay attention in your daily life to what problems people and businesses face and what ideas are compelling to them. The best problem is one you face yourself but a secondary one can be one you see others struggle to deal with.

A related idea is that distribution strategies matter a lot. There’s a saying that first-time founders focus on product and second-time founders focus on distribution. A distribution avenue that makes it easy for you to connect with a lot of customers makes it easier to get a lot of feedback from different people so that you can generalize it to find a product-market fit. Afterward, it will make it easier for you to scale. If the problem you’re solving is so great that you get high response rates on cold emails, then that’s a great sign!

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We generally hire from our own platform, Techintern.io, but even if you aren’t a student but are open to technical internships including those for design, full-stack, mobile, quality assurance, growth, and product management, please apply here.

If you’re a company looking to hire strong technical talent, please send us a job posting here.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Kingsong Chen,   Founder of Techintern.io
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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