Young Hustlers Series: Galen Frechette of Gemvara

In this ongoing economic recession and "jobless recovery" Gen Y has drawn the short straw.  As reported recently in the New York Times, “the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is a whopping 17.6 percent.” Adding to this is the bad reputation for being self-entitled and difficult to work with.  Like any stereotype, there's always some truth that started it, but it's unfair to paint an entire generation with such a wide brush.

There are many great Gen Y'ers, some right here in our startup scene. They've accepted the challenge of our economic times and blazed their own trail through bold moves. The Young Hustlers series will highlight them.

Today we have Galen Frechette, an aspiring entrepreneur who worked to deliver pizzas until he had enough money saved to take a chance in Boston trying to find a great job. Read on...

Two months ago I took the money I saved this past winter delivering pizza in my hometown of Plattsburgh, NY, and rented an apartment in Cambridge. I only knew one other person in the Boston area and didn’t have a job or any job leads. I figured that if I lived on a diet of rice, I could make the pizza delivery money last about two months at best. My reason for moving was to get involved with the Boston Startup Scene and do what I have always been passionate about doing—building meaningful and revolutionary products and services.

Graduation

After graduating from RPI in December of ’09, moving in and then breaking up with my long time girlfriend, I spent the following spring learning and working on all the things I didn’t get time for in school. My plan of graduating and starting a business wasn’t really bearing any fruit, as I was fairly isolated and didn’t have the community I needed to feed off, so I changed course. That summer I worked on recovering from ACL reconstruction, built up my portfolio and looked for work in product design.
 
By the end of the summer no opportunities had presented them selves so I bought a one-way ticket to Portland, OR where I met up with a friend to ride our bicycles down the coast to San Francisco where I was planning on trying to stay. After just over a month on the west coast I had no leads on employment (I guess people out there don’t like it when you walk into there office looking for work…), I was out of money and I had no place to stay. It was time to devise another plan. I decided that I would move back home and secure any job I could to save for a move to Boston or San Francisco where I would get involved with the startup industry and eventually start my own company. 

Setting a Plan

Not long after I returned home I got hooked up with a pizza delivery job that my younger brother had while he was home on summer break. Over the following months I worked on a whole bunch of different things and when I had saved what I had thought was enough and it was time to make a move, Boston just seemed like it was the right choice. 
 
I had been studying entrepreneurship and the startup world from a distance for the past couple of years so I knew it had one of the most, if not the most, vibrant startup eco-systems on the east coast. I really love the Bay Area and there is a lot of awesome stuff going on out there, but I just felt like the Boston scene was more “Fresh” and poised to grow. The 4-hour drive from my hometown was also a move my old Honda Civic and I could make fairly easily.

A Boston Welcome

Thanks to the Greenhorn Connect events calendar, I had all kinds of things to do before I even pulled into Cambridge. My first week consisted solely of job hunting and attending tech startup events. It was quite amazing how receptive and welcoming everyone I kept meeting was, and it definitely reinforced the feeling that I had come to the right place.
 
What further reinforced that feeling was that within the first week I had made more
connections and had been contacted by more potential employers than I had the entire past year. After only a month in Boston I was officially a “Gemvarian” and a part of the "Me-Commerce" revolution that’s going on at Gemvara.

Finding Gemvara

The week before I left New York, I had found this event called “BarCamp Boston” and I was really looking forward to attending. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet the kinds of people I wanted to meet, and hopefully one day be able to work with. There were a lot of really great presentations, discussions and activities at the event, but a presentation given by Matt Lauzon, the CEO of Gemvara, definitely captivated me the most.
 
I plan on founding revolutionary companies of my own, and so I am always looking to learn from people who are doing or have done what I will be doing in the future, and so Matt’s demo of his Series C pitch seemed like a great learning opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. What was most inspiring about the presentation was Matt’s passion and vision for Gemvara. Once I realized that Gemvara wasn’t just selling fine jewelry online and that they are actually in the process of turning a whole industry on its head and fundamentally re-envisioning the e-commerce paradigm, I got really excited. I love to be disruptive, and Matt’s passion and vision really resonated with me. I just kept thinking to myself, “this is the kind of place I NEED to be!” After the talk I approached Matt about my desire to help him build Gemvara and was lucky enough to have him connect me with a Gemvara recruiter the following day.
 
The interview process at Gemvara went really well. It was immediately apparent that
everyone there has the same vision and is really excited about working towards achieving it. On a tight budget and with a limited amount of time, it is also really nice to have a recruiter you can easily and openly communicate with.

Conclusion

Moving to Boston and getting involved with the vibrant startup scene here has been amazingly exciting. It seems like every day there are new and awesome opportunities. I am used to existing in an opportunity vacuum and now I find myself fighting to manage all the great things I am trying to do and be a part of.
 
To any motivated and passionate young people out there, if you want to be a part of something incredible, get yourself to Boston and into the startup world here. Deliver pizza, rob a bank, do whatever you need to do to make it happen, you won’t regret it (well if you actually attempt to rob a bank you may end up regretting that…).
 
Also, for anyone out there looking for ways to help get young people from out of town into the Boston startup scene, something like a “Hostel for Startup Job Seekers” would have been great when I was trying to make my very low-budget move here. You could call it “The Greenhorn Hotel”, admit “residents” by application and cultivate fresh startup talent for Boston. As soon as I have a couch to offer, I will be doing just that.
 
Thanks to Jason Evanish for inviting me to share my story on Greenhorn Connect!
 
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About Galen Frechette
 
Galen currently works as an Apprentice UI/UX Designer at Gemvara in Boston. Galen aspires to found positively transformative companies of his own and when not working on side projects or learning the latest web technology, you can find him cycling, running, snowboarding, surfing or producing music.

You can follow him on Twitter @GalenFrechette and check out his website at www.GalenFrechette.com