Liz Carlson – Founder and CEO of In The Door

Liz Carlson is the Founder of In The Door, a social job search site that lets people find job openings at their friends’ companies. In The Door plugs into Facebook to see where all your friends work and scours the web for openings at those companies.   Liz wanted to create the site after she learned that a friend landed a job at Google though a recommendation from a mutual friend. Her online job applications, meanwhile, were being automatically rejected by computer algorithms and never reached the desk of the hiring manager. She thought, “Instead of just seeing a long list of jobs, people should first see opportunities at companies where they have an inside connection.”

What are you working on right now?

We just launched our job search site that shows users all jobs at their friends’ companies to a positive response.  The value to job seekers is an inside connection increases your chance of getting the job by a factor of 10, as companies want to tap into a higher quality talent pool screened by their current team members.   We’ve gotten over 3,000 users, 140 company sign-ups, a handful of resumes from top people in the industry wanting to join our team, and several offers from complementary businesses who want to work with us since we launched on Tuesday.    It’s exciting to see our hard work pay off.

We are currently bootstrapped and doing our best to handle the interest in our service.   We are impressed to see the high caliber of people and companies that have signed up, and hope to continue the momentum.

What does your typical day look like?

Bug tracking, analyzing data we collect from users, responding to customers, spreading the word, identifying ways to create more value.

3 trends that excite you?

Infiltration of the Social Graph. Our product starts with the social layer.  Many sites have social aspects as features.  At In The Door, it is our core.   I hope Facebook continues to improve their API and it was awesome to hear that LinkedIn’s developer API is more open now.

QR codes. It’s interesting watching this start to catch on in the United States.  These 2D bar codes are great for digital reward systems and ways to connect real world advertisements to the mobile web.  I listed this because I splurged on QR code domains last year when I first heard about them, and now am trying to sell them, since I am focused on In The Door.   I no longer buy domain names impulsively.

Machine learning. Buddies at Berkeley are making robots fold laundry, mapping neuro-connectivity of the brain, and making amazing advancements in medical robotics.  I am also interested in advancements in Natural Language Processing to understand and process content by companies like Google and Fwix, as well as other Machine Learning applications.

How do you bring ideas to life?

By focusing on one concept and doing it with excellence and heart.   I am an idea machine, and it’s important to focus on what I can do today to make tomorrow happen.   (A couple weeks ago, I took a weekend afternoon off, to make a website with hackers at Disqus HQ that aggregates tweets with a certain hashtag, just for fun, based on an idea I had.)

What inspires you?

Wisdom from female entrepreneurs like Marie Forleo, student innovation like that of Feross Aboukhadijeh – the hacker behind YouTube instant, and underdog stories throughout time.   Marie specifically challenges other female entrepreneurs to not say “Who am I to do this?” but to say “Why the hell not me.”

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Not executing on a good idea when there was a market for it.  In Summer 2008 in the midst of the presidential race, I thought of the idea to sell Obama ’08 basketball jerseys.  No one was even making them.  Every single male friend I polled said they would buy one, except one who said he wanted one with McCain on it.  I was waiting on a friend to join me, and sometimes you need to take charge without support, based on your gut and confidence in the market.

When you believe in yourself and take action, others will believe in you.  I was able to attract great engineers to work with me to make our website, because I first went out and built a prototype.

What do you read every day?

Feedback from customers.   Links shared by friends about tech trends.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

The One-Page Proposal.  It’s about turning your job ideas into one actionable page, instead of sending a static resume.  Start-ups and small businesses can also use this formula to pitch their services to big companies.  Joanna Riley, CEO of, has digitized the process spelled out in the book, and I will be recommending it to our In The Door job seekers.   It’s about their ideas, what value they can provide, and why they are the one best person to make it happen versus a laundry list of vague resume buzzwords.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

We use KISSmetrics to analyze user behavior, and it’s already helped us increase user activity.  We also have a homegrown user tracking system.   I’m not a big gadget person, but when more money starts coming in, our office can have those remote control helicopters.  Hackers seem to love those, and I’d want to keep them happy.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Laura Roeder (@lkr) who is making a name for herself as a social media guru.  I noticed that AppSumo directly applied her tactics from her step-by-step at video for their Lean Start-up Challenge, and I heard from insiders they made a killing from it.

What advice were you given that you haven’t taken?

Some people remind you that you are designing your product for other people, but from day one, I thought about our product as if I were designing it for myself.  I believe things should be obvious rather than an expert’s definition of “intuitive” or you should take clear measures to educate your users.   I like to create things so it makes sense to me if I were in the shoes of the user, then I look at our analytics to implement changes.

What is the most important trait to you as an entrepreneur?

Resilience.  Being an entrepreneur is lonely, scary, and shit can go wrong, but I am committed to my dream and will make it happen with my amazing team.  I have put my meager life savings into this, borrowed money from my sisters, sold my furniture, and am currently sleeping on an Ikea mat, but I am focused on the future of social job search.  I am confident in our idea, and there is a huge market for it.  Friends would say I am fearless and have more balls than most guys, but that does not mean there haven’t been times I’ve broken down and cried.  A good quote I heard:  “Don’t cry to give up, cry to keep going.”


Reach out to me directly at [email protected].

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