Start-Up The Muse Helps Answer 'What Do I Want to Do With My Life?'
"What do you want to do with your life?" is a simple question that a lot of people just don't know how to answer, and that's exactly why Kathryn Minshew built her entire business around it.
Minshew founded The Muse, a web based community that offers career advice and a new way to search for a job. It was inspired by her own experience looking for a new line of work while working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co.
"I knew I wanted to do something different, but I wasn't necessarily sure what. I spent probably six months, about a half an hour a day, sometimes on LinkedIn, on Monster … but I wasn't sure what I was looking for," Minshew said.
Instead of finding a new job, Minshew found a new mission: help connect the right person to the right job. The Muse does this by letting job seekers "look inside companies" by accessing photos, videos, stories and employees so they can go "behind-the-scenes" to see a company's culture first hand.
Minshew's start-up also offers a blog called The Daily Muse. She says it provides career content that attracts the type of professionals their hiring partners look for.
"Sites with only job postings exclusively appeal to the 20 percent of the U.S. population that is actively job seeking at any given time, but we want to connect with the additional 60 percent that isn't actively looking but is open to a new position. The Daily Muse is our way of doing that," she said.
The Muse is free to users and generates revenue by charging companies anywhere from $6,000-$60,000 per year to post jobs and have a profile on the site. Prices vary based on company size, job openings and the number of office locations. Their 100 hiring partners include McKinsey, AOL, Pinterest and Facebook.
Since launching in 2011, the company has grown to 1 million unique monthly active users and is growing at a rate of 20 percent month over month. But The Muse faces stiff competition, including LinkedIn, with a market cap $12.7 billion and over 200 million members, and Indeed, which was recently acquired for $1 billion by Japanese HR services company Recruit Co.
(Read More: Q&A With Kathryn Minshew)
Another competitor in the career community space is Glassdoor. Launched in 2008, its mission is similar to The Muse in that it wants to help people make more informed decisions. And Glassdoor has a big head-start with its 20 million members, 700 employer partners, including job boards like Career Builder and Monster, $42 million funds raised and a mobile app for Android and iOS.
Samantha Zupan, director of communications at Glassdoor, told CNBC: "We are the first, and only site to bring together the answers on who's hiring, what's it's like to work at the company hiring, and who do I know there?"
Like The Muse, Glassdoor offers an inside look to companies and employers through photos, videos and interviews. But the site also publishes anonymous salaries, company reviews and interview questions that are posted by employees, job seekers and sometimes the companies themselves.
The Muse uses a different tactic, focusing on their partners, the companies they feature. "I really like Glassdoor's approach, but it's fundamentally different than ours," Minshew said. "We aren't the Yelp for companies, looking for disgruntled employees." Instead, she told CNBC, "The Muse's main focus is to go inside the company's offices, bring their cameras, and talk to employees and the company culture.
Minshew added that The Muse is building algorithms to help users discover the jobs they want to see, which will include notifications via email for positions that are a match, with a mobile app coming soon.
Minshew said The Muse has raised $1.2 million in funding so far from investors including Y Combinator, 500 Startups and Cathie Black.
—By CNBC's Erin Barry and Joanna Weinstein