The pipeline to VC jobs needs fixing


July 2, 2020

Applying for a job shouldn’t feel like shooting your resume into the void.
July 2, 2020
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Twitter wants to know: Tell me why you went into your field in 5 words or less.

“Not good at anything else” has been popular. “Couldn’t get into med school” is another.

As for me? Let’s go with: “Too big for a jockey.”

I was a short, scrawny kid who loved horses, so I was sure I’d win the Triple Crown. But eventually I grew up — literally — and my Derby dreams were dashed. There was only one way forward: Learn to write.

What got you into your field? Tweet your bite-size motivation to us @TheHustle.

–Caroline

High Score

The startup that wants to democratize hiring

Applying for jobs feels like uploading your resume into a black hole. But a new player is here to let you show your stuff. 

The startup Merit launched this weekend with an ambitious pitch: Make VC hiring more equitable by using a points system. 

Merit is a cross between a job application and a training program. For the newbies, it serves up videos and blog posts explaining how to approach basic tasks like examining the business model of a startup. Then, you enter the competition.

Hiring managers, meet Mario Kart 

Advancing in Merit’s tourney depends only on how many points you lock down. There are no resumes. No connections. Everyone is anonymous. 

Once a week, for about 3 hours, you look at a new company on the up and up — the kind of work that a junior VC employee would do — and write an analysis.

Then you score the research of 2 other people in the Merit system. 

The process repeats for 6 weeks — and by the end, the top 20 high scorers win.

‘The Voice’ for hiring is nothing new

The startup Blendoor arrived on the scene a few years ago with a similar goal — to level the playing field in hiring. To prevent racial bias, it hides the name, age, and photo of job applicants.

A few caveats with Merit: Applicants don’t get paid for their work, which the company already acknowledged is a “problem” that it hopes to fix.

And the top 20 Merit finishers aren’t shoo-ins for a job, founder Jacob Claerhout told The Hustle.

They’ll get some high-profile meetings — 12+ VCs have already told Claerhout they want to meet the winners — but that’s all Merit can guarantee. 

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Sci-fi farmers

Robots bring new meaning to the term ‘food security’

The idea of chemical-free farming might conjure images of hipster farmers in artfully distressed overalls gently coaxing lettuce to life with their dirty hands. 

But programmers are bringing a space-age touch to time-honored farming techniques. 

Enter the ag-bots

WiseFarm’s Titan weed cutters are clever little guys designed to meander through plant rows, attacking weeds with retractable hoes. A single robot can do as much as 15 to 20 human workers.

That’s an important feat: COVID-19 and immigration restrictions have significantly drained the labor pool. And since they take care of weeds, the robots negate the need for harmful herbicides, too.

Greenfield Robotics’s broadleaf weedbot, meanwhile, is an autonomous mini-mower smart enough to tell crops and weeds apart and take down the latter.

Across the pond, the UK-based Small Robot Company makes robots with advanced scanning and photographic abilities to zap weeds with electricity. 

And robots are going after more than just weeds

They can make food storage safer as well. 

MIT teamed up with Ava Robotics and the Greater Boston Food Bank to build a robot that patrols warehouses and uses UV light to disinfect surfaces and zap nasty things like coronaviruses out of the air. 

In a test run, the robot neutralized 90% of the coronaviruses on surfaces in a 4k square-foot space in just 30 minutes. 

Now if someone would make a bot to remind us to put the mayonnaise away after sandwich time, we’d be all set.

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Meme Dreams

A new meme-making matrix could take your mashup game to the next level

For years, digital tools like Photoshop have helped demystify design for amateurs (and have successfully convinced them to stop using Comic Sans).

Koji, a new startup that allows users to create and share interactive content, is here to do the same for the meme economy.

It’s time to go pro

As Fast Company put it: Koji wants to amplify the power of memes by remixing them, in the same way that TikTok squeezes more juice out of mashed-up audio and video clips.

Koji CEO Dmitry Shapiro and his team amassed an extensive gallery of remixable templates — memes, selfies, and games. 

Users can share their creations on social media, embed them in websites, or send them to friends — all without one iota of coding or editing experience.

And for those of us who actually can code, Koji encourages techies to create new templates and even monetize them.

Making memes is step one

But Koji could be much, much more. 

Shapiro told Protocol that his technology could eventually replace all single-use apps. Everything a user makes in Koji is a web app, meaning it can be embedded anywhere — even inside another service.

Imagine a world where you can Postmates some lo mein without ever leaving your Zoom call. Revolutionary. 

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Play Sad Trombone

Alexa is the next target of our quarantine angst

We all have our ways to cope with stress. Some of us pump iron. Some go to therapy. And some… hurl obscenities at the voice-powered assistant perched innocently on the kitchen counter.

Let’s be honest: We’ve reached the phase of the pandemic when even the most patient among us are starting to lose it. And there’s nothing like a noncompliant robot to make us finally snap. 

The Alexa bullies swear they’re nice people

“I’m not a bad person,” one woman, Angela Hatem, told the Washington Post. “I say things to Alexa that I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, if I had one… I curse at her. I call her names. I’m very, very mean to her.”

A quick rundown of some of Alexa’s offenses, as outlined by her harassers:

  • Not turning on the light when asked.
  • Failing to pair with a home security system.
  • Mistakenly reading Joe Scarborough’s Wikipedia page every morning when begged to turn on “Morning Joe.” 

“You just want one thing to do its job, and this is a robot,” Hatem said. “Just do the thing you were brought here to do and do it on the first take.”

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Snippets

1️⃣  Some relief for small businesses: Both chambers of Congress have now approved an extension of the deadline to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans, to August 8.

2️⃣  Talk about going on mute: Zoom missed its self-chosen deadline to release a transparency report.

3️⃣  A portrait of the lives we lead now: Providers of virtual line-standing software are suddenly very popular..

4️⃣  Beyond Meat landed a big contract with Alibaba’s grocery store chain in China. 

5️⃣  A UPS-backed company announced plans for a nationwide network of self-driving trucks.  

6️⃣  Get your white noise machines ready: With personal firework sales continuing to explode, firefighters are gearing up for a miserable weekend. 

7️⃣  Thanks to a computer glitch, every item scanned for purchase at some Canadian tire stores was processed as a Mr. Potato Head doll

8️⃣  Straight from Silicon Valley: The dating app Badoo trained its AI to weed out dick pics. 

9️⃣  A scent that’s truly out of this world: Using NASA data, Eau de Space launched a perfume that smells like the cosmos.

🔟  Incarcerated people are going viral on TikTok.

The Hustle Says

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We upped The Hustle’s Instagram impressions by 416% this quarter, and it’s all thanks to Eric and the team over at Bitesize. Wanna get more out of your social media? Get in touch with ’em here. 

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