Andrew Giacomi WG’16 at ZOLA, New York, NY

Zola_Logo_new2015 Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow

 

How did you find the position?

I found the position through a posting on CareerPath and after looking into the company, founders, and investors, I decided I wanted to apply.

What was your motivation for working at a startup this summer?

I was working in investment banking prior to Wharton and I knew I wanted to try something completely different and entrepreneurial.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a startup this summer? Do your research, finding a startup that interests you and where you think you can really add value is half the battle. Also, never be afraid to reach out to someone when you find a company you like.

Enjoy the Present

I applied to the Wharton with one goal in mind: gaining the functional skills necessary to help partner with and build great companies. This is what drew me to Zola. Zola’s mission and focus on transforming the wedding registry market through user-friendly, intuitive design and technology is something I believe in and wanted to be a part of.

As a tech-focused investment banker for five years prior to Wharton, I had the good fortune to raise capital for and provide advisory services to a number of innovative companies along a wide spectrum of the maturity curve. Yet, as a banker your work is inherently transactional in nature, bankers by default are service providers, and more likely than not, your clients fall at a much later stage in the maturity curve. These two facts always left me feeling slightly unfulfilled in my work and ultimately led me to realize that what I was looking for was something much more entrepreneurial, a position that would allow me to have a tangible impact on the strategy, success and growth of a company rather than to simply act as a service provider in the later stages of company growth.

Looking to transition from this traditional career in finance into the world of startups is what led me to Wharton in the first place and my internship this summer with Zola was the next step in advancing this passion.

In searching for a summer experience, my goal was to find a growing company with an idea I believed in and a team I loved and to add value wherever possible. With that in mind, I don’t think I could have possibly asked for a better place than Zola. The company has experienced incredible growth over its short 2-year lifetime. The founders have taken their vision for bringing wedding registries into the 21st century and created a truly amazing product with the help of some of the best and brightest team members I have ever worked with.

Fortunately for me, Zola’s only constraining resource is people. My supervisor, Maya, told me on day one “we have so much work to be done and not enough people to do it” and she wasn’t lying. This led to an incredibly exciting and diverse summer internship. Whether, it was creating a customer lifecycle marketing plan, researching new markets for possible future expansion, developing a business case for introducing expedited shipping or just cleaning out the fridge there was always something for me to do.

None of my work would have been possible, though, without the help of people across the entire organization. When you work for a startup you are truly a part of a team. There is really nothing quite like working in one room with 40 people towards one goal, making your company successful.

In the end, Zola gave me a truly unique experience: challenging me by taking me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to think creatively, while also growing my skills, knowledge and responsibilities rapidly and equipping me with invaluable hands-on tools and experience that I would not necessarily have come by while working for a larger-sized company.