A lot of young people have left school into an incredibly turbulent job market during the pandemic period. One of these people is Lauren DeSouza, and she is currently in the process of co-founding a company.
Ace Interview prep plans to be a service that people can use to help get them ready for arguably one of the hardest parts of job hunting, the interview. We sat down with her to talk about her experience starting up a business during this troubling time.
Why did you start the business?
The way I came up with this idea for this company started with leaving university. Everyone went from talking about loving university to everyone saying, “Oh no, we need to get full-time jobs. I started realizing that everyone was panicking about getting full-time jobs, and this was before the pandemic. People talked about applying to jobs and searching for jobs, and it was a big headache for many people.
I started to talk to people about it because there must be something happening here and a gap that needed to be filled. I learned that there was a common fear of interviews. I realized that the trepidation comes from people not knowing how to showcase themselves. I realized that the gap was actually a communications skill gap. That’s what inspired us.
Can You describe some of the services that you offer?
We are is an AI-enabled interview preparation platform. Our whole mission is to create confidence in communication. What our platform does is focus on soft skills and communication. A typical user would go on the platform; they would research and prep for the role. They would pick the role they were going for; they would do their company research and learn how to stand out and answer any questions.
They would then go into a mock interview. In that interview, they would get questions that were either general, role-specific, and curveball. Curveball being questioned that you have no idea why they’re asking it. Once the user completes their mock interview, the AI will then give them feedback. The idea is that somebody is going to practice and see their improvement.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
Yes, so funnily enough, we started our business in the pandemic. It made it hard to do things like customer research. As an entrepreneur, I always find it more helpful to talk to people face-to-face and understand their emotions and get that vital feedback. What was interesting was I got the idea for the company back in January 2020, and I was working with someone else, and the day the pandemic started in mid-March, my former cofounder told me that he couldn’t do this anymore and that he needs to find a full-time job.
I had to go on a two-month-long search to find another cofounder, which brought me to my current cofounder; that was a blessing in disguise because we work well together. Other than that, it wasn’t too bad, we were able to get subsidies, but it has made working harder.
How has it been starting a business during the pandemic
It’s been interesting; I’ll say that. One thing I’ll say about myself as an entrepreneur is that I’m very extroverted. I get more ideas and get more creative when I’m around other people, especially when working with my cofounder. We get many ideas working off each other, bouncing ideas back and forth, that kind of thing.
I find work-life balance is more manageable when you’re working in person with people over working from home all the time. I did find it hard to adjust to figure out how to work by myself all the time. Even though I do talk to my team, you are still physically by yourself. It presents new opportunities and new challenges, and it has its ups and downs.
Hopes for the future.
On the pandemic side, I hope that it ends! I hope it comes to a close soon; that would be great. Company-wise, our vision is to help people create confidence in communication because it puts everything they were trying to do right in that perspective. I mean that we were not going to stop at interviews once we build the AI to help people with interviews. We can use it for many other things as well. So, I see us becoming the go-to communication training tool. I see us going into sales training, media training even being used for everyday conversation. Our big hope is that in the next 5 – 10 years, we become the communication training tool for everyone.
It will be interesting to see how this business will perform as the pandemic draws closer and closer. The Canadian economy is expected to reopen as restrictions slowly lift across the country, which means more job openings to make up for the thousands lost during this period. This means that a lot more people are going into interviews, and for a lot of them, it will be at least one year since their last one. That means a ton of people could benefit from the help Ace Interview prep will provide. Ace interview prep hasn’t officially launched yet but plans too soon.
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