Wednesday, June 12, 2019

My Startup Journey - New Beginning




A new beginning
Learning from the seasons past
My startup journey


My startup journey actually began in 2002 when I joined my first startup, a dozen or so people building an HR platform in Dallas. Since then I have spent my career building and scaling teams at startups including SuccessFactors, HireVue, Kahuna and most recently Degreed. It has been the quintessential startup roller coaster: the grind of hands-on software implementations and frustrated customer calls, the highs of IPO and acquisition, and all the way down to the lows of laying off some of the great people I have hired. Despite these challenges and the often hard-earned experience, I feel like my startup journey is really only 60 days old. This year I started Olifano. It’s the first startup where I am the founder - employee number one. We haven’t launched yet so it’s okay if you haven’t heard of it.


I am fortunate to have had the incredible career experiences I have had so far. I have hired and worked with amazing teams, built an extensive network of customers, colleagues, and friends and gained tremendous experience across functions. But - and it’s a big but - I have found that nothing prepared me to be the founder of my own startup. Just 60 days in and it is absolutely clear that it is going to be something brand new. From the painful loneliness of starting something from scratch to the emptiness of knowing nothing happens unless you do it yourself, it is already a profoundly unique experience.

There is a lot of great content written about startups and founders and I won’t pretend to have the answers. I am passionate about learning and sharing with others so over the next few days I will share a handful of the things that I have experienced and learned in my first 60 days. I hope you find the insights valuable.


I can’t wait to share what we are building at Olifano. We launch this fall so please stay tuned! You can follow Olifano on LinkedIn or on Twitter.


About David Verhaag 


David has spent his career building and scaling teams at some of the leading HR technology companies. He was most recently the Chief Customer Officer at Degreed, the lifelong learning platform. Prior to Degreed, he held leadership positions at Kahuna, HireVue, and SuccessFactors. David lives in Park City, Utah.

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