Ryan Agresta, Founder and CEO of Candidate

September 22, 2020

1. What were you doing before you quit your job?

My previous experience was Amazon, Uber and most recently Convoy. I joined Convoy when it was roughly 30 employees, and was fortunate enough to see it grow to 1000+ over 3.5 years. When I left, I was leading the Operations org, and had an amazing team that included Operations, Customer Support, Program Management, Data Science, L&D and other functions.

2. When did you realize you wanted to quit your job?

A few people in my network had begun their own ventures – after talking with them about their experience, I started to consider entrepreneurship more deeply. I ultimately came to the decision after discussion with my family, but it was more about moving towards founding my own company then it was about quitting my job. I was afforded an incredible opportunity at Convoy, but didn’t have the time personally or professionally to “moonlight” – so founding a company meant leaving my role.

3. What initial hesitations did you have about quitting your job and how did you overcome them?

After coming to the conclusion that my wife and I would be able to support our family, the biggest challenge for me was moving on from the team I had established and cared deeply about. I came to the realization that I was mentally and emotionally committed to founding my own company, and it would be challenging to truly act in the best & long term interest of the team I had – so my departure actually made sense for both sides.

4. Can you remember the day you put in your notice?  What was it like, what was going through your mind, how did your manager take it?

I was fortunate to only have two managers throughout my 3.5 years at Convoy – both of whom I respected greatly. There were a lot of questions/thoughts running through my mind – was I making the right decision, had I truly considered what I was walking away from? I remained committed to the plan, and while the news was a surprise, it was also met with a great deal of support since they had taken on similar risks in their career.

5. What are you doing now?

Candidate was formally founded in January, and I’ve been full steam ahead doing everything – building the team, product, and service. After successfully raising a pre-seed, I was able to hire a team that I am thrilled to be working with every day. Even when times have been challenging (especially in 2020), having an incredible group of people who I get to partner with has made me truly excited to start work every day.

6. Looking back on your experience of founding a company, what do you know that you wish you knew before? Are you happy with your decision?

I had to learn the hard way that getting told “no” often is part of this job. Whether it’s come from potential investors, prospective customers, or others, it was different to receive than rejection I had faced in the past. These “nos” were either about me as a founder or my company, and at first it felt more personal. I was able to overcome this through 1) learning through each experience, 2) leaning on other founders who I developed relationships with throughout the journey and 3) using it as motivation to achieve success. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to found a company.

7. Any other advice you can share for others contemplating a similar path?

While it may be hard to swallow the risk that comes with leaving a safe role to start your own venture, nothing will match the daily joy you can find as an entrepreneur (in my experience). These two elements – risk and unmatched satisfaction – almost always come hand in hand, though.

Once you’ve started, focus deeply on your customers, users, and their experience. While the stories of rocketship growth are what we all dream of – and where the headlines are – it almost never happens without having a group of customers who absolutely love your service/experience/product.

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