Carly Leahy is a powerhouse with a fascinating, yet unconventional background. As the co-founder and CTO of Modern Fertility, Carly has had an incredible career journey that will inspire you if you’re interested in the intersection of entrepreneurship and being a creative in business.
Carly revealed what her partnership is like with her co-founder Afton – from how they met over an epic email intro, and the key ingredients to a successful partnership, plus she dived into the inner workings of her company, now a team of 30 full-time employees.
There are so many gems and takeaways from this conversation that are sure to spark new ideas, especially if you’re thinking about launching your own company. Listen to Episode 23 now on The Career Memos Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
What it was like holding important roles at Google and Uber.
Carly has had a storied career path that started with a college internship at a Boston-based advertising agency, which later led to a role at Google. What blew her mind in the beginning was the fact that Google actually had a need for creative storytellers, and she was recruited for the position on LinkedIn.
Pro tip? Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. You just never know what opportunities could land on your lap!
During her time at Google, she had the privilege of leading creative on a policy initiative and program with local chambers of commerce that supported small businesses looking to get listed on Google Maps. Carly helped scale the program to 30,000 cities.
Thereafter, joining the “everything” team at Uber meant a lot of experimentation – some experiments were wildly successful, like launching Uber Eats from the ground up in just 3 months! Carly recalled how being in a place where both product and marketing blurred, she was able to both build the product and dig into the marketing and positioning. It was an addicting combination.
Foundational fundamental alignment is key when you’re on the hunt for a co-founder.
Carly and Afton lucked out in their partnership after an “epic email intro” and a successful coffee date. A lot of entrepreneurs who have amazing ideas might look for a co-founder who is similar to them, and in Carly’s case, she partnered with someone who is very different from her with a completely unique skill set.
For the first year, they felt like roommates, spending sometimes 22 hours a day together. They worked off of a shared to-do list making sure they were heads down on their priorities. What they both had in common was their commitment to fixing fertility and democratizing fertility information.
Carly shared how important her past experiences and relationships were at Google and Uber as they were building Modern Fertility, because she definitely called in some favors to help put the pieces together.
Join a startup incubator in the early days to explode the number of resources that will be at your fingertips.
If you’re in startup mode and not sure exactly where to start, Carly recommends joining an incubator, like Y Combinator. It will be like an intense summer camp where you do nothing but work on your company for three months, but hopefully by the end, you’ll have a moment to get up on stage, deliver your pitch, and raise money.
There are so many opportunities like this around the world, even some held remotely. It’s an interesting, tactical place to start that can help you create some of that early structure.
And it’s okay if you pivot and things change down the road. Your career journey will be long, and definitely not linear! And for Carly, the non-linearity will make it fun and exciting.
“People who know how to lead, people who are great to work with, people who are creative and dynamic, are people who do really well.”