Primoz Cigler on Business and Code

First Two Weeks in Chicago on WorldChicago Professional Fellows Exchange

In May, I’ve shared my motivational letter for applying to WorldChicago. Half year fast forward, here I am, exploring the Windy City with other 15 professional fellows and working with the Geetha Natarajan, one of the WishYourPrice startup co-founders.

Two weeks ago, we arrived and first met at the Chicago international airport. 15 fellows from Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia.

We’re coming from different fields, but all with a single mission: to be immersed in Chicago’s entrepreneurial and educational environment, meet new people, create connections and exchange experiences.

The first weekend was all dedicated to exploring the city and sightseeing. And of course, fighting our jetlag 😅

Photo: Ivana Carev

Photo: Ivana Carev

Then came Monday, our first day at our professional placements. We’re all working at different organizations.

My placement is a SaaS startup called WishYourPrice. The idea is to allow online shoppers (e-commerce customers) that they can express how much they’re prepared to pay for a specific item.

Last Monday, I meet Geetha who presented the tasks she had prepared for me while I’ll be placed at WishYourPrice. My assignments for the first week were:

  • building a list of leads – potential customers of WishYourPrice platform
  • taking care of the company’s social media accounts – their Twitter and LinkedIn account

I needed some time to get my head around the company, get the idea which kind of companies we’re targeting and then my work began.

At the end of the week, we’ve reviewed my progress (copy/pasted from weekly sprint report):

Good:

  • I did the first store walk-in and got the email of the owner. Will plan to do more of it the next week.
  • Got 25 leads – less than planned, but they are very good ones.
  • Updated my LinkedIn profile and worked on expanding the network in Chicago which will simplify work in the upcoming weeks.
  • Did share relevant articles via Buffer.

Could improve:

  • It felt like I didn’t spend my work time efficiently. I needed time to get the whole picture of WYP and plan my work. I also still suffered some jetlag. This will surely improve in the next week.

We also agreed that we’ll change the strategy for social media – from my experience, targeting broadly and just sharing the articles from around the web and putting some hashtags on them is waste of time and energy, especially at this early startup stage. So I proposed instead that we follow the decision makers from the brands we target and engage with the content they’re creating on social media. It’s a much more focused strategy that works for getting their attention.

Then Monday came and Geetha texted me in the morning that there’s a big wholesale retailers showroom going on in the historic Merchandise Mart building called Stylemax. This was not expected and not planned for this week, but it’s like this in the startups: when a good opportunity arises, you hop on it.

So on Monday and Tuesday, I’ve been analyzing the list of all retailers present there and visiting the booths, pitching the idea and trying to get the contact of the decision makers (we usually want to talk to VP of marketing, sales, analytics or e-commerce). And even though that I was doing this for the first time, I can say I was quite successful – I visited 30+ booths with about 50% success rate, ranging from people who said directly to my face they are not interested, to getting a name, email, and phone number of the business owners.

For the rest of this week, I’ve been working for the two businesses I have back at home: Rifuzl and ProteusThemes. Especially with Rifuzl (zero-waste grocery store we’re opening with Manca) lots of interesting things are happening and we’re opening the shop in January (or earlier, if all goes according to plan – which it does for now).

Even though everything is overwhelming sometimes (work placement, working for my own business, program events), we still meet with the “Balkan” fellows group almost every day. We go to happy hours to grab a beer after work or go out over the weekends. Today evening, 3 girls from our group are celebrating birthdays and they’re throwing a party 🎉

As you can see, I’m all safe and sound.

And you wonder what I’ve learned so far?

Let’s just say for now that Americans are not all that advanced compared to us when doing business, hustling and getting new ideas off the ground. There’s much more capital here for sure, which allows you to be more creative and try more things. But what we do very well (some fellow share the same thinking) is that we are much more resourceful with the limited capital we have. It’s a good skill, we should be more aware of it and use it in our advantage.

Last but not least, we should be more confident! If there’s one thing from this exchange where I personally want to grow is being more confident about my experiences, knowledge, and abilities.

There’s at least one more update coming from Chicago in the next 1-2 weeks, so come back and check 🙂

You should follow me on twitter, here.

Author

Primoz

A software engineer transitioning to a digital marketer and entrepreneur. Walking the talk. Windsurfer, digital nomad.