Technical Curiosity Launched My Career
During my time at Hamilton, I studied Geology while also playing varsity soccer and club hockey. When I wasn’t preparing lab reports, I was constantly tinkering with ideas and side projects including buying and reselling textbooks, building websites for small businesses, and launching a company that sold QR code tracking and analytics to marketing firms, called Barcode Connections.
The concept of Barcode Connections was relatively simple — marketing firms could track the location and demographic data of anyone who scanned a QR code in their print advertisement. As a result, marketing firms could track which advertisements drove online engagement and which advertisements fell flat and failed to deliver results. I teamed up with developers in the UK to build the software and opened a PayPal account to collect the subscriptions.
A few dozen clients signed up, and I quickly became sales, customer support, and amateur coder. There were a lot of long nights in KJ or the Library, but the work paid off when my QR codes wound up in national magazines like Teen Vogue and Popular Mechanic, and in use by tourism and convention centers in Cleveland and Baltimore. But most importantly, I learned that to gain experience, it is critical to read as much as possible and to dive right to build something, anything, from scratch.
My junior year I won the Hamilton Pitch competition, which led to an informal internship in Boston at Intrepid Labs, a coworking space founded by Hamilton alum Mark Kasdorf. Though brief, the internship gave me a window into what working at an early stage company looked like. Keep in mind this wasn’t a “posted” internship — sometimes the best way to get your foot in the door is with a cold email or meeting an alum at an on-campus event.
Back at Hamilton, I started to spend more and more of my free time at the Levitt Center. At the time, the Levitt Center was starting to design and build the Social Innovation Lab, an incredible initiative to provide a physical space for students and members of the community to come together, brainstorm, and ideate.
After graduation, I knew that I wanted to join an early stage company that provided Software as a Service (SaaS) to businesses. One tip is to look for companies with “Product Market Fit” which basically means a business operating in an expanding market with paying customers that love using the product. Keep in mind most non-technical positions at early stage companies are sales positions, a job I never considered. But my competitive edge and work ethic from athletics, combined with my scrappy background on various projects in college, landed me a sales job (after applying through Angel List) at FareHarbor, a company that provides reservation software to tour and activity operators.
In my role as Account Executive, I made dozens of cold calls a day, but my success was the company’s success, and we quickly began to grow and expand from roughly 20 employees to well over 400 employees. With expansion came opportunity, and I was willing to work hard, spending many nights and weekends at the office. I have since shifted from sales to operations, where I now oversee a few different teams and still love going to work every day, though on a more regular schedule.
In hindsight, my junior year internship and time spent in the Levitt Center cemented my passion for entrepreneurship and increased my desire to pursue a job at a startup. Later, I realized the time I spent working on group projects and synthesizing information in various Geoscience classes increased my ability to craft an argument and communicate effectively, an ability that has served me well in my career.
It has been an incredible ride, and I credit great professors, coaches, and the Levitt Center with helping shape my time at Hamilton, thus providing a strong foundation to build a career.
Ted Clements '14 graduated with a major in Geosciences and a minor in Government. He is currently the Co-President of Operations at FareHarbor in Denver, Colorado.