The future is built on connections – between people, between ideas, between companies. This is your all-access pass to conversations that are shaping the future. This is Next2.

Kathryn - Obstacles

Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, on how she overcame her fears and leave her first career to start The Muse.

Kathryn - Speed 02

Watch Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, describe how she taps peers she trusts to help her make big decisions.

Kathryn Minshew: How Your Network Can Save You From Unnecessary Mistakes

Kathryn Minshew was told “no” 148 times when she started pitching investors to finance her jobs-and-careers website, The Muse. She had left a safe job and a steady paycheck and now she was having bouts of self-doubt, asking herself “Am I crazy?”

Launching a new career path does not come without trepidation, something Minshew knows firsthand: “Anytime you take a leap…you have a lot of fear, and I absolutely was no exception.”

Pushing through barriers

In her words, Minshew “pushed through barriers” because she was confident in her vision of a website that did a better job of helping job hunters and career seekers evaluate opportunities and make informed decisions. Her own experience had given her some of the evidence she needed: After entering “business strategy director” into an online job search site, “assistant manager at 7/11” popped up at the top of the results. There has to be a better way, she remembers thinking.

Those skeptical investors she had pitched early on had warned her to drop her idea of including content along with job search functions on the site because that model isn’t easy to scale. Today, it’s what allows The Muse to stand out in the career tech field, she says. “Fifty million people come to The Muse every year; many of them find us through the content before they use the job search and recruiting platform.”

Staying creative while scaling up

Minshew proved content was scalable, but the challenges never stop: “Being an entrepreneur is like living life fast-forward.” Her company’s workforce has grown 4X and keeping a focus on innovation becomes increasingly difficult. “We put people into small SWAT teams to tackle specific problems and give them the freedom to come up with solutions that might seem a little crazy,” she explains. Only later do they see if they can pull it off in reality.

A natural networker, Minshew often reaches outside the office for expertise and advice. In fact, she says, “the relationships you build as an entrepreneur can be one of the best safeguards against making unnecessary mistakes.”

An early adopter of SVB

When she was just getting started, another entrepreneur directed her to Silicon Valley Bank — explaining that, in addition to banking services, SVB provides access to a helpful network. As an example, Minshew recounts that she was chatting with an SVB manager about a problem she had encountered. He put her in touch with another entrepreneur who had solved a similar challenge. “We’ve been with SVB since day zero,” Minshew says. “It’s really helpful to have a partner who knows the tech industry and has a wide network of relationships.”

She adds, “There’s nothing more powerful than talking to someone who’s been there.”

More from our inspired entrepreneurs

See all Next2 client stories: Larry Cutler, Maureen Fan, Jessica Green, Zheng Yu Huang, Emily Leproust, Kathryn Minshew, and Frida Polli.

See all Next2 conversations: Larry Cutler & Zheng Yu Huang, Jessica Green & Joshua Hoffman, Frida Polli & Kathryn Minshew.

Next2 POV is a collection of stories from several SVB clients.  These inspired entrepreneurs share their experiences and points of view on how to build a successful innovation company

At Silicon Valley Bank, we have conversations every day with technology visionaries who are shaping the future.  We invited several clients on the frontlines to share their experiences and points of view on how to build a successful innovation company.

In this collection of stories, titled Next2 POV, you will hear about the vision, passion and sheer grit necessary to get going, and how building a trusted team of partners and advisors is a prerequisite for success.  Our goal is for these stories to give you insight and inspiration to move your big idea forward. 

Kathryn - Partnership 02

Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, says one of the best ways to avoid mistakes is to learn from peers who have already lived through them.

Kathryn - Partnership 01

Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, shares how Silicon Valley Bank introduced her to partners at a pivotal time.

Kathryn - Speed 01

Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, discusses the challenges of keeping focused on innovation while scaling the company.

FC Phylagen

Jessica Green, co-founder and CTO of Phylagen, shares how strong relationships guide her startup.

Spotlight - Larry

Larry Cutler, CTO of Baobab Studios and Zheng Yu Huang, CEO of ViewFind, discuss their approaches to failure and experimentation.

FC BaobabStudio

Larry Cutler, co-founder and CTO of Baobab Studios, shares how to build a culture of creativity focused on accomplishing the impossible.