Building a successful tech startup doesn’t just happen. It’s a shitload of work — and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re likely to fail miserably. Which leads me to the importance of great mentors. Of course, there is no better way to learn than from someone that’s done it before. I truthfully couldn’t have asked for a better first job out of college. I was fortunate to learn from some amazing individuals at Zillow — Spencer Rascoff. Rich Barton. Amy Bohutinsky. David Gibbons. Liam Lavery. All individuals with proven track records and a wealth of experience to share.

So, my advice for those that want to embark on the entrepreneurial adventure of your own in the tech space — go work at a startup for a few years first. Learn the ropes from experienced entrepreneurs. Figure out how to work with developers, product managers, lawyers, sales people, and operations. Figure out how to build a brand. Build a developer network. And most importantly, find a few mentors — and ask as many questions as you can and soak up the knowledge. Sure, you may succeed with a startup at the age of 21 right out of school. But my guess is you’ll increase your chance of startup success exponentially if you first go work at a startup before venturing out on your own.

You see, without the guidance I received working at Zillow, I would have no clue what it takes to build a successful web startup of my own. Granted, I haven’t accomplished anything as an entrepreneur yet – but I can certainly tell you the road to where I am right now would have been 10 or 100x as difficult without my learnings from 5 years at Zillow.

Just as great mentors are needed in real estate, they are needed for tech startups.