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Meet Leland, The Contrary-Backed Outcome-Focused Coaching Marketplace

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Meet John, Founder of Leland

Why Leland is a Startup Search favorite

From Contrary founder, Eric Tarczynski: “When I first met John Koelliker as a BYU undergrad, we could tell he had the ambition, smarts and generosity to be a founder. Even while facing hardship in his personal life, John was building an extensive network through his internships at Utah VC funds and developing Kore Baseball, a consumer products startup. And he still found time to work on his passion project, Deferred MBA. When John came to me with the idea for Leland, funding it was an easy choice— because I know the two of them can handle almost anything that comes their way.”

Top Roles at Leland

Q&A with John

Why did you start Leland?

We’re building Leland to help people unlock their potential by connecting them with coaches who can help them reach their career/educational goals. There are so many ambitious young people out there who desperately want coaching and support as they try to get into competitive schools or jobs. Fortunately, there are also thousands of amazing professionals who have experience navigating those processes and can provide world-class coaching at a fraction of the cost of traditional admissions or career coaching firms. Leland is building a marketplace to connect that ambition with expertise at scale.

How is Leland uniquely positioned?

Leland is building the first-ever outcome-focused coaching marketplace, where young professionals tell us their ambitious goal, and then we connect them with the best person in the world who can help them reach their goal, for a price they can afford. Today, it’s hard to know where to go for help, because the market of admissions and career coaching is so massively fragmented and there’s no place you can read real reviews or connect directly with the coaches who you want to work with. At Leland, we’re building technology to make it easy to discover, evaluate, and then work with the best coaches in the world. For coaches, we help them build and manage their business, enabling them to monetize their expertise more effectively (hello creator/expertise economy).

How are you developing entry and mid-level talent?

We’ve been very deliberate about hiring an incredibly talented team, who’ve come from world-class technology companies like Amazon, LinkedIn, Uber, Google, and others. We’ve also been fortunate to have brought on some amazing interns and part-time employees who are more junior, and can learn from our more experienced team members. One of our cultural values is “Always Be Coaching,” which of course feeds nicely into both our internal culture and our actual business. Always Be Coaching means that we do our best to coach each other, share feedback, and focus on improving. We like to hire for potential, which means we tend to be much more focused on your slope of learning than your prior pedigree.

How would you describe Leland's culture?

We very deliberately wrote down our 8 company cultural values in the first 3 months of the company, and do our best to embody those values in everything we do. They are:
  • Open by default
  • Secure your life vest
  • Lasting impact
  • Bias towards action
  • Shoot for the moon
  • Celebrate stories
  • Always be coaching
  • Go places together
Most of them speak for themselves, but I’m always happy to share more about them with anyone. We feel strongly that if we are going to be the place people go when they need help reaching their career goals, we need to make sure that our own employees feel like Leland is a place they too can reach their career goals and full potential as well.

Why should I join Leland right now?

I’m confident that in 10 years we will look back on the history of Leland and know that Q1/Q2 of 2022 was the absolute best time to join the company. We are far enough along to have validated a lot of our core hypotheses, but early enough along to be able to make a massive impact on the future of the company. This means that you can join a Seed-stage startup with massive amounts of responsibility and potential for impact, but still be able to join early enough to participate in much of the upside of the company.

What’s exciting and ahead for Leland that you can share with us?

When we launched Leland in July of 2021, our first category was MBA admissions (for several strategic reasons). It’s gone incredibly well, but we won’t be exclusively focused here for long. We’re already seeing our marketplace expand in some really interesting ways and will be announcing new categories very soon. Stay tuned!

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