It was a tad surreal to walk into Polyvore to meet with Jess Lee, the CEO. I’ve been a fan of the site for a while now. My first impression upon entering the office in Mountain View, CA is that the space matched the open creativity they encourage on their website. For example, there’s a stuffed dog welcoming guests at the entrance. Jess came off incredibly approachable and yet clearly is a master of her domain. A former product manager at Google Maps, she switched over to Polyvore after emailing the founder about what she hoped to see improved about the Polyvore product. Perhaps there’s a tip in there for other people looking to get into their favorite start-up? Anyway, her life nowadays is focused on making Polyvore a site that does a few things well; Jess thinks there’s a lot more in the fashion sphere left for Polyvore to explore. She loves how the site has, in a way, democratized fashion. People with a unique eye can be recognized for their talent even if they don’t live in New York or have formal experience.
The next day, I was off to Pinterest, the most buzzed about start-up in the area. How frequently the name Pinterest popped up at social events throughout the week reminded me a bit of how a single designer can dominate the conversation at fashion week parties. Out in Silicon Valley, it’s all about the coolest start-up. Pinterest resides in a cheery yellow but otherwise unremarkable building without a receptionist. They have about 24 employees now and are looking to bring on pragmatic, collaborative people with broad interests. It was fun to hear how much they’ve grown already, beginning with two people in a tiny apartment to now being the third most popular social networking site.
Then, because life is absurd at business school, I took a red eye out of California to Israel for an MIT Sloan spring break trip. If you’ve read Start-Up Nation, you know what a hub of innovation the small country is. Thanks to the trip’s organizers, we had the amazing fortune to have a private meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Politics aside, it was really something to sit so close to such an important global leader. Also, we spoke with Shai Agassi about his company Better Place which seems like it may revolutionize the world with electric cars and the infrastructure to make them convenient and cost effective. After riding some camels, swimming in the Dead Sea, and eating my weight in hummus, I’m home feeling very grateful and trying to process all of these moments.
Sitting on my previously mentioned couch, it’s time for me to start making choices about my summer internship. I’m torn between going to a major luxury retail company or trying my luck at a little start-up. Mounting grad school debt doesn’t exactly mix well with taking big financial gambles, but is there ever a right time to take that risk? Hopefully, by the next time I write, I’ll have an answer. Meanwhile, please hit me up in the comments with any questions or follow me on Twitter (@kendall_to_go).