How Kevin Wu Helps Tech Professionals Find New Jobs

Online tools and mentorship provide a 'behind-the-scenes playbook' for success

Kevin Wu's passion for helping people through software dates back to his childhood when he was creating specialized applications, so he decided to turn that passion to building software to better support struggling jobseekers.

Wu is the founder and CEO of Pathrise, developer of an online mentorship and job placement platform for tech professionals. He was inspired to launch the company after seeing a lack of career services in the tech industry. 

Headshot of Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu.

Pathrise

"In terms of how we see the overall mission of Pathrise, I think it revolves around wanting to help people who aren't getting access to networks or the behind-the-scenes playbook on how to succeed in the job search," Wu told Lifewire in a phone interview. "We built this system to deliver that to even out the playing field a little bit."

Pathrise provides job seekers with software tools for their job search, one-on-one mentors to guide them on their career journey, and insider information about different tech hiring processes.

Pathrise supports its users for the job search through salary negotiations. The company provides job seekers with six different program tracks: software engineering, product design, marketing, data science, sales and product, strategy, and ops. 

Quick Facts

Name: Kevin Wu

Age: 26

From: San Francisco Bay Area

Random delight: "League of Legends. I absolutely hate this game, but I like my friends."

Key quote or motto: "Amp it up."

Passion for Helping Job Seekers and Students 

Wu first got into tech entrepreneurship in high school when he built some event management software for board game tournaments. While he made no money from this gig, he said it was a good start for his entrepreneurial journey. 

Wu's passion for building products for job seekers and students has stuck with him over the years. The young CEO formerly worked in the product department at Yelp and in engineering at Salesforce, while he also was building a study app for college students and running a nonprofit for students seeking real-world projects on the side. 

"I always had a bit of a geek side to me," Wu said.

Pathrise launched in 2018, and Wu has grown his team to about 40 employees since its inception. The company's team is comprised of career and industry mentors, engineers, designers, and other operational staff.

While the company formerly worked from a headquarters in the Bay Area, Wu said Pathrise was pretty remote-friendly before the pandemic, which helped with internal transitions last year. The company's programs also were already run entirely online, but Pathrise had to make a few adjustments to help further tech professionals struggling last year. 

Pathrise co-founders Kevin Wu and Derrick Mar.
Pathrise co-founders Kevin Wu and Derrick Mar.

Pathrise

"The pandemic definitely affected our job seekers who were going through the program. The job market tightened up, and the environment for job seekers got a lot more difficult," Wu said. "We were able to tough it out mostly because of the way that the company's model works."

That model that Wu is referring to is Pathrise's mission to help job seekers for however long they need. Users can pick program tracks to partake in, but there's no set curriculum or time constraint on how long Pathrise supports its clients; the company helps users until they land the job they desire. 

"I think this gave a lot of people some security as we all went through a difficult time of figuring out what was going to happen next in the world," Wu said.

Since the pandemic began, Pathrise has been providing more mental health resources, updating how it approaches providing support for job seekers going through interviews.  

Securing Funding and Reaching Goals

Wu said he's experienced elements of imposter syndrome as a tech CEO, but he's leaned on lessons from how he was raised to overcome challenges. One of those obstacles was struggling with public speaking, but Wu said he took note and adjusted after watching recordings of himself during pitch competitions. 

"I feel like there are certain advantages from my upbringing and culture that I bring into running my business," Wu said. "I have always been the type of leader that was taught to put their head down and work as hard as I can and just execute."

"This year, I think we'll be able to impact a lot more different people and guide them in their careers more."

One aspect of running a business that Wu has been good at is raising funding, a task many minority founders struggle to overcome. Pathrise has raised about $12 million in venture capital, according to Wu, including the recent closing of a $9 million Series A funding round.

"All of the funding is going to go toward trying to make the program as good as possible to place people quickly in the best job possible ultimately," Wu said. 

Another way Pathrise brings in revenue is by collecting 9% of the first year's income from job seekers once they are placed in a role. Outside of this fee, there are no upfront costs to use Pathrise's platform.

Wu's goals this year are expanding Pathrise's program track choices and reaching more job seekers. Wu said he wants tech professionals to know that Pathrise isn't just for job seekers entering the industry for the first time; it's for all technologists at any stage of the job hunt process. 

"This year, I think we'll be able to impact a lot more different people and guide them in their careers more," Wu concluded.

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