Margaret-Ann Seger was in the inaugural class of Kleiner Perkins Fellows this summer, working at Chegg. Chegg is a late-stage startup that helps students save time, save money, and get smarter. The company originally started just renting textbooks, but is growing to become the educational hub for students in the 21st century. Her enthusiasm could easily describe a lot of Olin students, but Margaret-Ann's story is one that should resonate with the entire Olin community. I asked her why she's so excited about working for Chegg and here's what she had to say:
Chegg is an unbelievably cool place to work.I know you probably haven't heard of it, but this little company with the funny name is out to change the world. And I honestly think they have a fighting chance of doing it. Why is Chegg so unique? Yes, it's the market opportunity, the current educational climate that's ripe for a revolution, and the sheer breadth of ideas the company is exploring. It's all of these things, but most of all, I'd say it's the people who make the company so awesome.
Learn more about how Chegg saves you money AND saves the environment at the same time...
Chegg's CTO Chuck Geiger said something that really struck me. He said that his criteria for choosing to work at a company is whether the people are SWANs (Smart, Work hard, Ambitious, and Nice). He admitted that the first three parts aren't that difficult to find, but the "nice" part is quite a bit trickier.
So far in my experience, Chegg seems to be a company full of SWANs. The "nice" part is immediately apparent- everyone here is incredibly open, willing to help, and genuinely curious to get to know you. I've had great conversations with everyone from my fellow interns to the CEO of the company. From the minute I arrived, I was treated as another one of The Team, not just "The Intern", as I might be at many other companies.
The "smart" part is striking, as well. I've met more accomplished, intelligent, and generally impressive people this summer than I was expecting to come into contact with in the entirety of my career. I know that sounds a little melodramatic, but I can't help but emphasize how impressed I am with the caliber of minds behind Chegg. I've been able to work with people who came from building the likes of Netflix and PayPal and are now turning their sights to building the world's largest student network. Impressive doesn't even begin to cover it.
'Working hard' is a fundamental part of Silicon Valley. The culture out here reveres blood, sweat, and tears more than any other place I've been. After all, anyone can have a good idea- it's the execution that turns that idea into something greater. I love the pace of life at Chegg: everyone is moving at a million miles per hour, exactly my preferred speed. Nobody waits to ask permission to do something, and I have yet to encounter serious bureaucracy (can I get an "Amen"?) The positive "just-do-it energy" builds on itself, which further reinforces that if we work hard as a company, we will succeed.
But enough about hard work- Oliners already know plenty about that. I left "A for ambitious" for last because it's my favorite, and coincidentally the reason I chose to come work at Chegg rather than any of the other KPCB companies who participated in the Fellows program.
You see, I have one criteria when picking a company I want to work for: I want the company to have crazy ambitions. Yes, crazy. Chegg's ambition to fundamentally disrupt the traditional student experience shone through loud and clear in my interview and I remember feeling incredibly excited at the thought of getting to help make these plans a reality.
After having been here for the summer, I can genuinely say I'm even more "wowed" by Chegg's ambition. Facebook built the social graph, LinkedIn the professional graph, and now Chegg is aiming to build the student graph. This is no small undertaking, especially for a company that, up to this point, has only been associated with college textbook rentals. Crazy? Yes. And I love it. My theory is if you shoot for the stars and end up hitting the moon, at least you've still made it into outer space."