Exit Stories: Karly Pavlinac On WAAM And The Cake Resume Heard Round The World

(Image | Jackie Sizing)

On this week’s episode of Exit Stories, host Kevin Mosely interviews WAAM founder and NC State grad Karly Pavlinac. Sleeping behind her parents’ couch to make ends meet, Pavlinac founded WAAM in 2017 and raised $500,000 from Cary’s Cofounders Capital. [We first profiled the startup in June, 2019.]

After WAAM was acquired by wellness brand The St. James in 2021, Pavlinac stayed on for a stint as Director of Digital Project Development and then transitioned into a role as a brand strategist at wmHarper. Most recently, she made national headlines for a unique self-marketing delivery of baked goods to Nike that can hardly be described as a piece of cake. 

Here are three key takeaways from Pavlinac’s story:

  • Find investors that will invest more than just money in your startup. WAAM raised its seed round with Cary’s Cofounders Capital (check out General Partner David Gardner’s recent Friday Nooner episode here). Karly, who was basically fresh out of NC State at the time, received loads of valuable advice—from big-picture ideas to day-to-day musings—from the folks at Cofounders. A positive experience with Cofounders was “crucial” to WAAM’s success and Karly’s growth as an entrepreneur. (7:29) 
  • When in doubt, be persistent until you find an opening. Because WAAM’s model was based largely on hiring trainers with celebrity clients or large followings, at times it was challenging for Karly to break through the noise of unwarranted DMs and emails. She emailed and DM’d the same potential trainers many times, but at the end of the day, it took breaking through to one top trainer for WAAM to make its way into a whole network of similar trainers. Karly recommends reaching out with personality, which shows possible clients that you care about their unique business needs and you aren’t just out to send cookie-cutter emails—personalization was what WAAM’s first client said broke through the DM noise. 
  • Feeling stagnant in your job search? Follow the advice of Karly’s former coworker and think outside the box—or in Karly’s case, inside the cake box. She recently went viral on LinkedIn for her frosted proposition to Nike in the form of a resume-clad cake, and describes the delivery and its aftermath in detail on the podcast. Karly doesn’t have any formal job announcements just yet, but “just do it” relates to her job search in more ways than just her can-do attitude. 

You can listen to the full episode below. Be sure to subscribe so you’ll receive every episode automatically.