Grad Worth Betting On: How Glendon’s Caitlyn Ngu Secured a Deal on Dragons’ Den

Caitlyn Ngu, BA 2013, French Studies

When Caitlyn Ngu saw the ad for Dragons’ Den auditions, she initially considered waiting another year. The technology for her start-up, HireUp, was still in development and the auditions were three days away.

Fortunately, she took a leap of faith and made the last-minute decision to go. She figured it’d make for a good story even if the producers didn’t call her back.

What she got was more than just a good story. She made it on the air and walked away with an offer for an investment of $250,000 from two Dragons, Michele Romanow and Lane Merrifield, to fuel the growth of her hiring platform.

While Caitlyn’s timing was fortunate, her success has been the result of ample hard work. In a recent interview for Toronto Life, Caitlyn cited, “Sweat more in training and bleed less in war” as the best piece of advice she’s ever received, and she’s certainly taken it seriously.

“To prepare for the show, I wrote out questions that I thought the Dragons might ask, and had my friends grill me. I also practiced my pitch a few hundred times.”

In 2013, Caitlyn graduated from Glendon College with a BA in French Studies. After visiting several campuses, she decided to attend Glendon for the unique educational experience it offered.

“Glendon was by far my favourite,” Caitlyn says. “The campus is beautiful, and the classes are smaller. It seemed like a safe and wholesome learning environment, where the professors know your name, and you have the opportunity to reflect on what you’re learning.”

When she looks back on her time at Glendon, Caitlyn recalls sunny days on campus, attending classes in the Glendon Manor, and chatting with her professors after class. In fact, Caitlyn points to one professor in particular whose class provided inspiration and preparation for her future role as a tech entrepreneur.

“My favourite class was a Communications class that I took with Professor Jennifer Sipos. How we communicate can make a world of difference, and her class really explored that idea. It contributed to HireUp’s vision and reinforced the importance of providing job seekers and companies with the opportunity to share their stories.”

If there’s one overwhelming lesson Caitlyn’s Glendon education taught her, she says it is time management. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Caitlyn structured her schedule to fit all of her classes in two days, enabling her to work full-time for the rest of the week. By the time she graduated, she entered the workforce with experience under her belt and quantifiable professional achievements, such as $2.7 million in sales during her time spent at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Caitlyn’s experience is proof that a liberal arts degree can lead to a successful career, in tech and beyond. Today, she is scaling HireUp and onboarding new clients in hopes of changing the way we hire. She offers the following words of encouragement for students and graduates.

“Liberal arts degrees are flexible, so don’t be afraid to explore positions that interest you,” advises Caitlyn. “If you’d like to work in tech, there are a number of non-technical roles that may be a good fit. Most start-ups have limited resources and tend to be open to hiring new grads. This is a great way for new grads to get a lot of work experience in a short amount of time.”


Neya Abdi, BA’16 International Studies
Published in July 2019