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Local

St. Charles East grad competes for Tech.Co's startup title

Thomas Ma
Thomas Ma

Thomas Ma is only 22, but he already hopes that his efforts will help pave the path for other young entrepreneurs to follow.

The St. Charles East High School alumnus is the founder of Career Podium, an interactive platform that connects employers with passionate candidates. It aims to make job hunting less confusing.

Career Podium is competing to become the Tech.Co Startup of the Year, which Ma described as a “big deal” because the contest includes entries from Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as the Americas.

Voting in the reader’s choice poll ends Aug. 5, but the semi-finalists won’t be announced until Aug. 10. They will be invited to pitch to judges in September at the Celebrate Conference in San Jose, Calif., where the champion will be selected.

This is Ma’s third or fourth competition, he said, noting he participated in Techweek Chicago in June.

“To be there was an honor,” Ma said, adding the event included “the companies we’re trying to chase after.”

Ma – who graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May and is the oldest of his seven-member team – said he hopes others will benefit from the example he’s setting.

“We’re showing if you have an idea and go for it, good things can happen,” he said.

Ma’s inspiration for his startup originated in his mother’s nail salon, #1 Nails in St. Charles, he said. He was working there to help pay bills, he said, and he would talk with customers about their experiences in the job market.

Career Podium had not yet launched publicly as of Aug. 2, but Ma said it will include uses for employers and for job-seekers, as well as a way for the two to connect.

Visit www.careerpodium.com for information on his startup and www.tech.co for information on the Startup of the Year contest. Career Podium is listed under the “East North Division” of the Midwest region.

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