2015-2016 Ambassadors of Entrepreneurship
Sutton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
Rolling Up My Sleeves: Interning at thredUP
By Saul Gorman WG’16
I put on latex gloves and started sorting through a big pile: an old sweater, a pair of designer jeans, a brand new jacket with tags. The day before, I knew next to nothing about clothes. Now here I was, learning firsthand howthredUP operates its online consignment business.
Fast forward three months, and now I know all about our company’s business model, the challenges inherent in the market for used clothes, and the complexities of managing such a large operation.
Going into the summer, I was looking for exposure to the operational side of a young, ecommerce company. thredUP seemed like a perfect fit: based in the Bay Area, they were buying and selling used clothes, and they were growing quickly. I spent my summer internship working for thredUP’s COO on a variety of projects.
My biggest project was to attack the problem of unsold inventory. In the market for used clothes, if something doesn’t sell within a few months, it will probably never sell at all. What could we do to move this inventory? I looked at a number of different approaches, such as bundling certain items together, or selling to third-party buyers. I used some quantitative tools to test these ideas, but ultimately, it required a lot of customer outreach: talking with buyers and conducting surveys to understand their needs. I also had to think about the implications for our operation: how might our process have to change?
I found my projects to be very rewarding. They enabled me to dive deeply into thredUP’s business and pursue new opportunities, while at the same time giving me exposure to the company’s operational processes and challenges. As a prospective entrepreneur myself, I can say that the experience was extremely valuable.
My biggest takeaway, though, is the importance of culture to a startup’s success. Like some other startups in the Bay Area, thredUP works hard to make the company a pleasant place to work, through things like catered lunches and a casual atmosphere. But thredUP also has some unique characteristics that set it apart. To name a few: Work-From-Home Wednesdays, Culture Awards to promote collaboration, and the opportunity for hourly warehouse employees to earn equity.
While I am looking forward to returning to school, I will miss being part of the thredUP community. It was exciting to be part of such a dynamic, impressive group of people, especially while the company is experiencing so much growth and success. I am eager to see what the company accomplishes in the coming year.
My internship there was incredibly rewarding. It was my first experience working at a startup… and probably not the last!
Bio: Saul Gorman is a member of the MBA Class of 2016. He is originally from Newton, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard with a concentration in government, he began a career in business as a strategy consultant. He gained experience in several industries, including technology and retail, before leaving consulting to work at Starwood Hotels and Resorts in their Sales Strategy and Operations group. Saul is majoring in entrepreneurial management at Wharton, and he is hoping to launch his own venture in the next few years.