Former Googler Liz Wessel Started WayUp To Help Students Find The Perfect Job

Liz Wessel - CEO of WayUp

“Because if you’re not on WayUp, then you’re probably on your way down.”, says the tagline of WayUp. Founded in 2014 by Liz Wessel and J.J. Fliegelman, WayUp connects college students with part-time, summer, and entry-level job and internship opportunities.

The 25-year-old serial entrepreneur, at the back of her head, always knew that she wanted to launch her own startup. Even before graduating from her college, Liz stepped into the entrepreneurial world with UniEats which she started as a side project that provided college students, some special discounts at local restaurants. 

WayUp is her third venture, which came into existence after quitting her job of two years at Google, which obviously served as a great platform for her to gain some corporate experience. Liz learned all that she had to before taking yet another leap into entrepreneurship. WayUp explains Liz, is a marketplace where companies can find quality applicants without wasting much time and the students find awesome opportunities to work in their desired domain.

When asked what makes her venture better than other startups of its kind, Liz tells us that it’s the quality of her project and intense hard work that her team puts in to form an amazing space for students and companies who otherwise lose their minds trying to find a right job and hiring suitable students.

The Beginning

WayUp was the result of Liz’s realization that there was a huge disconnect in the way students looked for jobs and the way companies hired students.  She had a similar experience during college and thus, the idea sparked and rest is history. 

Right after she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, she started working at Google, where she learned to think out of her comfort zone. “Google inspired me to think big, and to craft what the mission of that company should be: to help people. Google is changing the world in so many ways, and I was lucky enough to see that firsthand… especially while working in India for Google, where I saw just how large a scale that a business can impact. As a result, I knew I needed to make an impact, to create a company that actually moved the needle and wasn’t just another social platform to send selfies on (no offense to the selfie.. we do have a selfie stick in the office for office Happy Hours).”, says Liz. 

WayUp Team

An Exciting Journey

Like any other venture, WayUp also required a lot of sweat and blood of the founding members.  In the words of Liz, “I don’t think people put enough weight on how crucial the beginning team is to a company’s growth. Without our initial (and still growing) incredible team members, we’d not be anywhere close to where we are today.”

When asked about the first meeting with the investors, Liz says,

“Our first financial capital came from our Seed round, which was led by Box Group in NYC, and included participants such as Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Female Founders Fund. David and Adam (at Box Group) expressed interest in our business very quickly, so the entire process for our Seed round was fairly quick (~2 weeks from the first meeting until we had the term sheet and were oversubscribed). We later went to Y Combinator and then raised a Series A, led by General Catalyst, with participation from funds like Index Ventures, SV Angel, Slow Ventures, and more. We feel very lucky to work with and learn from such incredible investors!”

WayUp has more than 250,000 users and since its inception has raised around $9 million with more than 20 employees working for them and has Google, Microsoft, Uber among its clients.

The Y Combinator Experience

“It’s a funny story actually. At first, JJ and I didn’t think that YC was for us. We already had a small team at that point and we were generating revenue. We also had already raised a seed round of $1M. However, we were lucky enough to have David Tisch and Adam Rothenberg (our initial founders at Box Group Ventures) by our side. They urged us to apply, and after a long-winded debate, we did. That winter, we moved out to Los Altos, California with a team of 8 for the YC Winter Batch of 2015. We lived and worked in a house for three months and received great advice and guidance from the YC partners. We achieved awesome week-over-week growth. We also came back with a few hilarious team-bonding stories that are still being circulated a full year later.”, says Liz

Find a Job that you actually want to pursue, versus one that is convenient.

When asked about the best advice she ever got, Liz says,

“The best piece of advice I’ve gotten was more of a conversation than a particular statement. I was speaking with a friend’s parent who brought up the point that people often don’t think of their career as anything more than a way to make money. However, the average person these days spends far more time with their job, than anywhere else. So, it’s vital you find a job that you actually want to pursue, versus one that is convenient.”

We couldn’t help but ask her about one woman she looked up to which she responded, “I can’t just choose one, you know, but I’d pick Padma Warrior, Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg.”

The Road Further

Liz defines her experience of working for Way Up as a constant yet extremely welcoming struggle to make sure that both sides of equation are working. “It requires a lot of communication across all teams. We constantly listen to our users, communicate their needs to the Sales Team, and vice-versa,” Wessel adds further.

In 3 years, she expects to get every single student get their first job or internship through WayUp.





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