ANN ARBOR - When he graduated from University of Michigan in 2009, Scott Goci went through the frustrations of job searching online.
He would tailor his resume and cover letter to each company only to hear nothing back.
After grappling with this process for some time, he decided to do something about it.
"I said, 'I’m going to figure this out. I’m going to build a website,'" explained Goci. "At the time I had no programming experience at all."
He worked for several years at University of Michigan and Alfa Jango, a local consultancy for startups. He learned as much as he could about running a startup and soon realized that he couldn't do it alone.
Fast forward to fall 2015. Goci was at an event he helped organize called Coffee House Coders, where he met his business partner Mike Kling.
"I had been in finance before this in New York," said Kling. "I was interested in getting involved in startups, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that was going to look like. And so I went to a bunch of different meet-ups and try to get acquainted with the scene here in Ann Arbor. (Scott) had presented what TrueJob was, what it could do at the time. I was like, 'This is a cool idea. I think that I could help contribute to this.'"
"(Mike) knew so much that I didn’t and together we’ve been building out TrueJob for (nearly) three years now," said Goci.
Kling, a well-versed developer, helped add more features to the site, but spreading the word was a slow process.
They approached Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic development organization fostering startups in the region, with a proposal to help improve their job board. SPARK was interested and became TrueJob's flagship client.
It was a natural partnership, and Goci and Kling discovered they were onto something.
"These economic development organizations, they already know that they want to help drive jobs to their region but they don’t have the programming and tech skills to build out their own job board," said Goci. "And we had the programming and tech skills but we didn’t necessarily know how to promote jobs in a region where we aren’t (located). That makes a great partnership and that’s our target market now."
Other TrueJob clients include Tech Town in Detroit, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Monroe County, Wisconsin.
When I asked them what makes their site different than Indeed or Monster.com, Goci replied:
"When you go to Monster, it’s the same experience everywhere. In other words, you go to search for Ann Arbor jobs and they don’t know Ann Arbor. They don’t know the community, they don’t really know the top employers, they don’t know a lot of the things that are happening in the Ann Arbor community -it’s just a filter.
"'And Ann Arbor SPARK, for example, really wants to showcase off the great jobs in the Ann Arbor area. They know everything about Ann Arbor. Indeed and Monster don’t. And so we make it easy for them to one, help curate the ones that show up on their job board. So only the jobs that they feel really represent the region are on there. And then we have a lot of data and analytics from that that allow the community to show their success as well."
Ann Arbor has been called the Silicon Valley of the Midwest in recent months, following the smashing success of local cybersecurity startup Duo Security. It was recently acquired by Cisco for $2.3 billion.
So, what's it really like to be immersed in the tech scene here?
"I've talked to a good amount of people and the startup scene is almost like you can’t quite see it," said Goci. "People come and they say they didn’t even know that Ann Arbor had a startup scene until they went to one event. And then suddenly this whole world opened up to them."
With meet-ups like A2 Utech, SPARK's influence in helping startups grow and co-working spaces like Tech Brewery (TrueJob's headquarters) that help encourage entrepreneurship, Goci says there is a flourishing tech community, it just takes looking closely to see it.
"The more you look, the more you see the real love of startups here in the community," he said.
"I've only been in Michigan for three years. Even in that time I feel like I’ve seen a pretty significant growth," Kling added. "Once you know where to look there's been a lot of support and it's a good ecosystem to be in."
It's an ecosystem that Goci says he wants to stay in and is optimistic about Ann Arbor's role as a hub -- small as it may be -- in the tech world.
"You see so many students graduate from U of M and they want to go to Silicon Valley, they want to go to these big cities, but they don’t realize that there’s so much we can change here. Duo has definitely proved that. And whether it’s us or other startups or all of us together, we’re going to make a big impact.
"Are we the next Silicon Valley? Maybe a little farther off. But on the same point, are we a great startup community that showcases off some really cool stuff? Yes. And I’m excited to be part of that."
To learn more about TrueJob, visit truejob.com.
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