I wanted to take some time to chat about my experience with Propel, a community of builders, operators and founders. It is run by three co-founders, Emily, Tom & Scott. The one I that I am closest to is Emily and she is definitely someone you want to have in your corner. She is a super-connector that has boundless energy with a whole lot of get-shit-done attitude.
I was putting off joining Propel because I was already pulled in so many directions with my businesses and MBA program between classes, internships and social events, but thankfully Emily was great at follow-up! I ended up joining in April 2021 and already have received so much value. Just wanted to share some of the positives of Propel I’ve experienced in the past 3 months.
1) Authentic Connections
On average, I probably did a coffee chat with a Propel member every week. The majority were relevant to my career and interests. I found the members to be kind, engaging and generous. There is a sense that everyone is supporting each other to get to the next level. Positive sum game.
Two standouts here:
NY Friend: He was going through his own career transition from a big corporation to startups and interviewing for a ton of PM roles. We were able to relate to each other over career, mental health, life and even music. He ended up getting multiple offers and will be starting a new role soon. Before he starts, he did a SF-LA-Seattle tour of the West Coast and we got to hang out a ton in real life, including KBBQ, ramen and WeHo lounges.
SF Friend: I was recruiting for VC and had 3 interviews the next day and this man jumped on a Zoom chat with me that very afternoon despite having a busy schedule- literally only hours after I was CC’ed in an email with him. I ended up getting my dream role, in part, by directly utilizing the advice that he shared with me for my interview. He even did a follow-up call a few weeks later to answer more questions about how I can best prepare for the role. I look forward to grabbing coffee with him when I visit the Bay shortly!
2) Educational Content
Emily is a beast when it comes to programming. I feel there is a constant stream of Zoom workshops happening every week and while I cannot join every one of them, they are all recorded and archived so we can reference whenever we want to. One of my favorite workshops was a super candid discussion about our current salaries. This was not one that was recorded but it was very freeing to have a forum to discuss a topic that is still very taboo. An upcoming one that I am looking forward to is "Intro to Angel Investing".
From social impact to finding a tech co-founder to e-commerce, you can trust that there will be a Zoom scheduled for it!
3) Member Portal
I quite like their design and tech stack. It seems like most people in the member directory actually tried to build out their profiles with useful content. I think this probably a result of the onboarding process being well-thought out and well-executed. Pretty cool to know that Propel was entirely built on #nocode tools.
Everyone is already bursting at the seams with Slack channels from their work and side hustles. However, Propel does do a good job curating a Slack environment that is not super overwhelming. #AskPropel is an area where anyone can ask for help from the other operators and founders. There are almost always valuable comments (“I can jump on a call!” or “I know someone I can connect you with!”) and definitely always friendly emojis in solidarity.
5) Chance to Give Back
When you are focused on hustling, it is easy to get caught up with your own journey but I appreciate the opportunities to share my learnings with others. Recently, I posted about resources that helped me in my MBA application process and I had 2 members reach out to set up Zoom chats to discuss more.
In a weird way, it allows me to take a breath and appreciate the progress I’ve made. Maybe I have gathered *some* knowledge that can be helpful to someone else.
It definitely takes effort to reach out to others - both in terms of time and mental bandwidth. However, Propel does make these interactions feel a lot warmer. While you will definitely not click with everyone, I believe if you come into Propel with a giving and growing attitude, you will feel welcomed here. If you are interested in applying to Propel and chatting with Emily, get started here: https://vrlps.co/F2QY96t/cp
Janet Lee is an MBA candidate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management on a full-tuition fellowship. She is currently working for TenOneTen Ventures, Visible Hands VC and Tech Coast Angels. Before business school, she started two businesses, a tech-forward real estate brokerage and international trade & logistics company. Her MBA focus is venture capital, for which she was recently awarded the Deutschman Venture Fellowship.