By Heather Yan WG’16
My summer internship at LE TOTE was extremely valuable. Specifically, I wanted to gain experience in marketing within e-commerce and get a taste for startup life. I’m happy to report that I achieved this goal and so much more. While the VP of Marketing had several project ideas for how the MBA interns (there were three of us) would spend our time, I learned that the benefit of working at a startup was that the experience is really “what you make of it.” LE TOTE was a post-series A, 40-person company, and if you wanted support, it was there (you just have to seek it out yourself), while at the same time I had freedom to work on areas I felt passionate about and where I wanted to make impact.
I worked on a wide range of projects during my 10 weeks:
- I created a PR infographics trends report on “LE TOTE summer trends” by analyzing <280,000 ratings and 1,900 apparel items;
- I worked closely with the VP of Operations to create a regression model to more accurately forecast daily “tote” shipments from the warehouse, and recommend industry best practices for warehouse quality control;
- I worked with two lead designers on UX/UI for our maternity product launch by conducting user interviews and market research, and I ultimately created wireframes to display the new product line on our site;
- I spearheaded a company-wide culture assessment.
The last two projects are ones that I proposed and that I feel most excited about. I really wanted to learn more about design-thinking and apply the creative side of my brain to a project, and I expressed that interest to the lead designer. The company was preparing its maternity subscription launch, and I could help with strategizing about how to integrate this new product into the current desktop flow. The first step was to conduct user research: I cold-called ~30 women who put their LE TOTE membership on hold due to pregnancy to learn more about them. For example, I asked questions such as “How far along your pregnancy did you start wearing maternity clothing?” and “Where do you get your inspiration for maternity wear?” I then looked into how other websites display maternity wear–for instance, some categorize their clothing by trimester and some provide a belly panel guide (all new knowledge to me!). The critical component of design-thinking is really approaching a problem with an open mind–the fewer biases and the more neutral mindset you have, the better you can create a solution to meet the needs of your users. Finally, after multiple iterations and keeping in mind business and engineering constraints, I wireframed out the desktop flow of adding the maternity product line using the Illustrator program.
LE TOTE is an early stage startup, and its culture is still forming. Having conducted culture assessments previously at Mercer Consulting and being personally passionate about culture, I proposed to the co-founders that I conduct a company-wide culture assessment. I put together a culture survey and interviewed employees across levels, resulting in a comprehensive review of the current culture and recommendations of how LE TOTE can continue growing its culture. I was given complete ownership on this project and was able to make a tangible impact in an area I’m passionate about.
In conclusion, my experience at LE TOTE has provided me with insight into what it’s like working at a startup and, specifically, within the marketing realm of e-commerce. I’m fortunate to have gained exposure into a wide range of projects this summer, to have formed some amazing relationships with colleagues, and to have developed more insights into my career aspirations after Wharton.
Bio: Heather is a WG’16 from Thousand Oaks, CA. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Economics. She worked at an HR consulting firm in San Francisco before coming to Wharton, where she is majoring in Entrepreneurship while exploring career opportunities in marketing and design.