Friday, August 08, 2008

John Cook: Venture Capital: Layoff was the spark that ignited startup

"Nathan Casey doesn't think of himself as a big risk taker. But when word came last winter that he would be losing his job as a vice president at Washington Mutual, the 27-year-old newlywed decided the time was right to take the startup plunge.

Casey hooked up with two friends from the Seattle bank who also were slated to lose their jobs and hatched Jobvana – a social networking site that tries to help people find local service providers.

"It was the biggest kick in the pants to get us going," Casey said of the layoff in February. Without it, Casey said, he probably would not have struck out on his own.

But with severance check in hand and a little startup capital from the co-founders, Casey is pushing on. He just landed $500,000 from Seattle angel investor John Chapple and expects to unveil the first public test of the Web service this weekend.

Casey said he left WaMu on good terms and doesn't hold hard feelings. But a layoff does provide extra motivation.

"When you're laid off, there is a feeling of disenchantment from working for big corporations – it's like you're woken up and you look around and re-evaluate the benefits of a corporate job and re-examine your own value, and if you're being utilized to the fullest," he said."

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