Our speaker series, NerdTalks, returned last week featuring Jake Gibson, NerdWallet co-founder and current startup advisor.
Jake shared his story of starting NerdWallet with co-founder (and now CEO) Tim Chen, entertained the crowd with musings from his and Tim’s high school days (the two are longtime friends), and updated Nerds on what life after NerdWallet has been like amid the chaos of raising twins while also advising early-stage startups.
Here’s a sampling of questions Nerds had for Jake, and what he had to say in response (edited for context).
Nerd: Which traits would you say CEOs must embody to go from good to great? (Question inspired by the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.)
Jake: Passion and conviction in the founding, being obsessed and staying awake at night thinking about how the company can evolve, and be as effective as possible while also being quick. And not being willing to give up.
Nerd: What does a startup advisor actually do, and what do you look for in early-stage startups when deciding whether or not to advise for them?
Jake: I spend a lot of my time taking the lessons I’ve learned from NerdWallet’s early days and sharing back with these early-stage startups. I work with founders and CEOs a lot on bringing their perspective back up to the high level, rather than in the weeds, so that they’re able to see the bigger picture. I choose which startups to work with and advise if I enjoy working with them, if I’m learning from the founders I’m talking to. If spending time with them energizes me, then I’m happy to work with them.
Nerd: What advice would you give to other early-stage founders?
Jake: Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and take the time to ask for help. And hire for people and roles that you’ve never done before.
And one more question from the crowd: “If NerdWallet were to be a movie, which actor would you choose to play you?” Jake confirmed it would be Ryan Gosling. (Can’t you see the resemblance?)
Stay tuned for our next NerdTalks recap, coming soon.