Thomas Page had no experience in the tech industry or in venture capitalism when he sat down for his first job interview, a meeting with Sequoia Capital’s billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moritz.
But he sure knew how to play poker, and that’s what caught Moritz’s eye.
Page is now the co-founder of Blonk, which makes an app that claims to be the “Tinder of job hunting.”
In a recent blog post, Page details how his first job interview experience led him to where he is today.
A professional poker player since 2004, Page decided to quit the game in January 2013, despite being rather good at it.
He says he’s rated among the top 500 poker players in the country and made $US6,500 in his first month of playing the game.
Page moved to Silicon Valley from Wolverhampton, England in 2012 with no technology or business experience. But he felt several of his poker skills could translate well to the industry, and here’s the email he sent Moritz last year:
Hi Mr Moritz,
My name is Tom Page, I’m 26, I’m originally from Wolverhampton, England, but I graduated Oberlin College in 2008 with a degree in Economics and Philosophy.
I played online professional poker for 6 years, and was ranked within the top 500 players in the world.
For numerous reasons, I decided I didn’t want to play poker professionally forever and entered the world of technology last year.
I founded www.playtagit.com formed a team, made a bunch of mistakes, learned a lot and was moderately successful, but am in the process of selling the software and moving on.
I want to get involved in Venture Capital, and am willing to do whatever it takes you to get started.
When given the opportunity I believe I’ll excel for these reasons.
To those that played poker against me, they know that I am able to make good strategic judgments, and that I am reasonably clever, but most importantly I also work very hard. These traits were at the roots of my poker successes.
I’m a genuinely social, outgoing individual which causes me to meet and get to know a lot of people personally, which results in building a very strong Rolodex.
I myself, invested in other poker players. I personally found and attracted the best deals that were available by specializing in specific forms of poker. A world that is not far away from operating within Venture Capital.
I brought more to the table in terms of value than other players. That itself, gave me a real life grasp of the formula that one needs to go through in order to be a successful tech VC.
I strived long and hard at learning the craft of poker. I would like to use these skills to try and become a very good venture capitalist.
Would you be willing to meet with me and talk more?
Page received an email from Moritz that day, agreeing to an interview the following Friday. To prepare, Page watched every interview and read every article he could find about Sequoia.
“It was a fierce conversation,” he recalls on his blog. “I decided to ask him the toughest questions I could. I wanted to see how he would react.”
Page didn’t end up getting the position with Sequoia Capital, but his meeting with Moritz is part of what led him to co-found Blonk. After the interview with Moritz, Page played poker to raise some more money, which he used to get Blonk started.
“One of my co-founders was asking each of us about [our] first job interviews,” he wrote. “And it brought a smile to all [of] our faces when I told my story of not having a clue and being interviewed by a billionaire.”