College Grad that Couldn’t Land a Job is Co-Founder of a $1 Billion Startup

Dan speaking about Exec and entrepreneurship at a conference in 2014. Image credit: Daniel Kan
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How does a  finance college grad who was rejected by 35 potential employers end up  as co-founder of a startup that General Motors bought in March for $1 billion in cash and stock?

When Dan Kan was a senior in college, he applied for about 35 jobs, most of them in finance. By the time he graduated in 2009 from Claremont McKenna college, Kan had been rejected from all but two of those jobs, reports Entrepreneur.

“I remember distinctly when I was graduating that I was going to go into finance. Like, ‘Oh! This is the path. Everyone goes into finance.’ You make a lot of money,” says Kan, 29, during a phone conversation with Entrepreneur.

Accepting Failure:  With a long list of job rejections facing him, in 2011, Dan launched Appetizely, a company that built iPhone apps for restaurants that pushed coupons to attract customers at periods of low traffic.   Unfortunately for Dan, within a few months of launching his business,  he decided to shut Appetizely down because Apple wanted to combine his 30 or so apps into one since the functionality was so similar.  If  he couldn’t offer each restaurant its own app, it wasn’t going to be attractive to restaurants.  So, he shut Appetizely down.

Finding His Passion:  Later that year, after shutting down Appetizely, Dan launched Exec, an on-demand personal assistant service.  Dan pivoted his San Francisco-based startup to focus on house-cleaning on-demand services. That was more successful, but Dan’s heart wasn’t in it. Customers almost exclusively used the Exec app for house cleaning.

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Hard Work Ethic:  In 2014, Dan sold the startup, Appetizely to San Francisco-based on-demand service company Handy, which has since become a leader in the space.  Throughout the stops and starts, Dan’s commitment to see a project through never wavers. “At Exec, he was willing to scrub toilets for clients. At Cruise, he was willing to go out on mapping car runs in the middle of the night. He’s a hard worker through and through,” says Tristan Zier, the current head of mapping operations at Cruise who also used to work with Dan at Exec, in an email with Entrepreneur.

When Dan decides to do something, he does it. “Dan is one of the only people I’ve been around who will say ‘let’s do it’ and actually take the necessary steps to carry out the idea,” says Emma Jones, a friend from Claremont McKenna College who later worked with Dan at Exec, in an email with Entrepreneur.   Read more…

Cruise Automation co-founders Daniel Kan, from left, and Kyle Vogt, along with GM President Dan Ammann. (GM photo)

Cruise Automation co-founders Daniel Kan, from left, and Kyle Vogt, along with GM President Dan Ammann. (GM photo)

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