Featured on Nov 23, 2011
"People will stare. Make it worth their while."
Caren Maio is the CEO and Co-Founder of Nestio, the easiest way for renters to organize and share their apartment search. Prior to Nestio, Caren lent her business expertise to corporate sales positions at powerhouse brands Nike and The Wall Street Journal. Caren graduated from New York University with a dual-degree in Brand Building and Publishing.
Do you have any advice for those applying to be in the next class at Techstars? Are there any cases where you’d advise a company not to apply to a program like Techstars?
I’d encourage anyone applying to the next class to submit his/her application way before the deadline. TechStars is all about mentorship and relationship building, and if you allow yourself enough time, it’s something that you can take advantage of during the interview process as well. After you’ve submitted your application, send along periodic updates to let TechStars know if your company has achieved any significant milestones - product updates, BD news, etc. The sooner you can start communicating your progress and building a relationship, the better.
TechStars was a life-changing experience for our team, and I can’t recommend it enough. We were able to work alongside some of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and obtain guidance from a dedicated group of extraordinary mentors. I can’t think of a scenario where I would advise a company otherwise – unless they’re not interested in any of that!
You’ve lived in 8 apartments in New York City. What is your favorite section of the City to live in? When you’re apartment hunting, what are the most important qualities in a space that you look for when making your decision?
I’ve lived in NYC for almost 10 years, and moved pretty much every year – so I’ve had the opportunity to do some neighborhood shopping. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, I’d go with the East Village. It just always felt like home.
When I’m on the hunt, I always try to keep in mind what my non-negotiables are (often location and price) and have an idea as to what/where I’m willing to be more flexible – maybe I’m willing to forgo an elevator building for a closer commute to the 6 train. It’s all about compromise. I always tell fellow apartment hunters that if you choose 2 or 3 non-negotiables and can land a place that satisfies that criteria, you definitely came out on top.
What have you and your team found to be the most challenging aspect of running Nestio since you completed raising your fundraising round?
Pacing ourselves. When we were in TechStars, we were moving at the speed of light. We were working extremely hard and getting very little sleep – it was unsustainable, but it was temporary, and it allowed us to get about a year’s worth of work done in 3.5 months. That being said, it’s really tempting to keep that momentum going until you burn out - but we didn't want to burn out. Instead, we worked to develop a steady, but swift, pace that we could feel good about. We finally allowed ourselves to take a breath - but it took some time.