Startup Advice: “You Eat What You Kill”

Posted by Patty Youngclaus

October 11, 2012

In growing tech companies, the time we spend out of office together can be as important as the time we spend in the office together.  Building good relationships and a shared sense of fun about our future make longer hours and the winding road to success feel like a victory in itself.

At TheLadders, we’ve always made time to get out of the office together.  And while we’ve never been into trust falls or rope bridges, we have enjoyed paintball and bowling and competitive triathalons -- or even just picnicking in the park with each other -- over the years.

But this fall, I decided to try something new.  We’ve all heard the expression “you eat what you kill”, but what if your team had to, you know, actually eat what they kill?

I took my team, by bus and boat, to find out on the swirling seas around Montauk.

Now at TheLadders, which I co-founded with my friends Andrew and Marc almost a decade ago, we’ve always been a nimble company.  Our mantra from the early days was “We’ll make it even if we never raise a dime!”

Being resilient has served us well.  We’ve only raised $8 mm in equity capital and we pioneered a new industry, signing up over 5 million job-seekers and 25,000 recruiters to our professional job-matching service.  After our first raise in 2004, we never raised another round. Success with that type of bootstrapping means always being resourceful.

Which leads me to last Tuesday and a bus carrying me and twenty of my top colleagues to Montauk.  We boarded the 85-foot Marlin VI Princess for a five-hour fishing trip. With a twist.

You see, “eat what you kill” is a common saying in our tech community, but tonight, it was also our bill of fare.  I told my team that that night, dinner was our responsibility:

“Tonight, we will be eating what we kill.

Fish is the only item on the menu, but not just any kind of fish.  It will be true, locally sourced, line-caught, fresh fish, right off of this boat.

Caught by you.

So, if you want to feast, let’s catch a lot of great fish.  If you want to go home hungry, let’s come back empty-handed.  The choice is yours.”

So we fished...

 and fished...

and fished...

and fished.

And took in the scenery.

We had a blast.

And we caught 22 fish: four large striped bass, several bluefish and few tuna.

And they were tasty.

And we learned a lesson, in the way that only “doing it yourself” can really teach you.

If you want to learn about bootstrapping your business, my saying is:

“Eat what you kill!”

Alex Douzet is Co-Founder and COO of TheLadders. In this role, Alex is responsible for the company strategy, global business operations, and product development.

Topics: #TheLaddersLife