2007-2008 Startup Internship Award winner
Fantastic summer. I could end with that, but it wouldn’t be fair to my readers. Let me explain. This summer, I worked at an early stage startup in Philadelphia called mBuy. It all started with a phone call from W’08 Jack Abraham, Founder and CEO of mBuy.
“Hey Boris, how would you like to come work at my startup this summer?”
Ever since I had arrived at Penn, I was interested in furthering my pursuit of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Almost without thought, I decided I would take his offer and that week I canceled what had been a months worth of planning for my summer. Spanish classes, hiking in Vermont, and other plans all gave way to the feeling I got from the word “startup.” Changing direction on the fly – my first lesson from the entrepreneurial life.
I arrived in Philadelphia a month later and started work in a nearly empty loft style apartment. We ran internet off of Sprint Mobile wireless cards and used chairs as makeshift tables. My first assignment was to build our office furniture. Once I had our tables and chairs built, I worked with my boss all week out of state on meetings – we used text messaging and emails to communicate my assignments.
As the summer progressed, I got to experience literally every part of the business. I was exposed to venture capital, mobile technology, corporate structuring, competitive analysis, marketing strategy, internet distribution channels, and other critical aspects of an early tech startup. Best of all, I honed my 2:30 AM Wii Tennis skills to near perfect levels. Work hard and have excessive fun – my second lesson from the entrepreneurial life. I slept on inflatable mattresses and ate more take out than a traveling salesman. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept mBuy. Literally.
My work brought me traveling through five states in ten weeks. I learned every major public transport system in the northeast and the value of good directions. Through it all, I developed the understanding and skill set that I needed to launch my own company on the side. Learn everything you can and when you’re done, learn more – lesson number three.
What I really got out of my summer was a way of life. To me, entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. It’s not something that you approach with a separate attitude. You’ve got to embrace it completely. In more practical terms, this means exploring the areas of life that fascinate you the most. For some people this may very well be in the financial, rather than tech, sectors. It all involves the same approach to life: curiosity, determination, exploration, growth, and learning. That’s what it feels like. I keep talking about emotions and states of understanding because at the end of the day, entrepreneurship is merely a word used to describe something much more than that.
This isn’t about where I want to work when I graduate. This is about how I want to work. And something tells me its going to be with the same passion and feeling that I felt this summer.