2012-2013 AMBASSADOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
I was able to find my position at Artists & Instigators by cold calling partners at various venture capital funds. This ultimately led aided me in acquiring an internship at a social gaming start-up for the first half of my summer.
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
Since I started my college career, I have always been interested in technology. Venture capital seemed like a perfect marriage between finance and technology; therefore, I pursued an internship in the industry. Additionally, I figured that in order to understand businesses, it would be best to intern at a start-up.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Working at a start-up is the best way to learn about operations of a company. This is particularly helpful because you can witness the successes and failures of that start-up and hopefully find a mentor for your own venture. You should definitely work in a space that you are truly passionate about.
From the beginning of my spring semester junior year, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in both technology and finance. I explored traditional options through on-campus-recruiting; however, none of the opportunities satiated my desire to work in both tech and finance. It was at this moment, that I began to explore non-OCR careers by talking to friends that have strayed away from traditional roles, such as investment banking and consulting. As I was reaching out to various individuals, many of my older colleagues raved about the lessons learned from start-ups while having a high impact on the firm. Their testimonies convinced me to explore the world of technology start-ups. I looked into various industries and companies and discovered that the most interesting aspect to me about entrepreneurship was actually on the investor side. Venture capital appealed to me because it was an industry focused on enabling entrepreneurs in their quest to innovate. Moreover, it was an avenue to merge my interests in technology enabled companies as well as in finance.
I was fortunate enough to have an offer to intern at an early-stage venture capital fund in West Conshohocken called Artists & Instigators. The fund focused on consumer-facing, technology enabled companies and had invested in successful companies, such as Seamless Web and Nutrisystem. I ended up choosing this internship over other opportunities because they allowed me to work at one of their portfolio companies for the first half of the summer before transferring to the fund. By combining these experiences, I was able to experience entrepreneurship from the perspective of the financier and the CEO.
The start-up that I interned at in the first half of my summer was an online social gaming company called Ryzing. It employed a proprietary sweepstakes model to provide its users with cash prizes in the Facebook application market. As a Product Management Intern, my role was to analyze customer data and market trends to help allocate a marketing budget to increase virality and ultimately revenues. Additionally, I performed competitive analyses and a market entry strategy to better position the products within the social gaming space. From completing these tasks, I not only felt that I had a better grasp on the inner-workings of a startup, but I also felt that I had a positive, tangible impact during my time at the firm.
During my time at Ryzing, I was able to witness an acquisition from within a start-up. Before I joined Ryzing, the company was working with social gaming company and publisher, RockYou, on Ryzing’s product, Bingo By Ryzing. After working with the product and the team, this partnership eventually catalyzed the acquisition for Ryzing. About two-thirds of the way through my time at Ryzing, the CEO brought the team together and informed us that the deal had finalized and that we were officially employees of RockYou. It was amazing to see the hard work and great ideas of the Ryzing team come to fruition and result in a successful acquisition. The metaphorical “icing on the cake” definitely had to be the various articles written about the acquisition on VentureBeat and TechCrunch. Interning during the time of the acquisition definitely got me excited about a possible career in the entrepreneurial industry.
After the conclusion of my internship at Ryzing, I proceeded to begin my second internship at Artists & Instigators. At the early-stage venture capital fund, I was exposed to many different businesses in the technology industry and successful CEOs. A key role of the Summer Associate position was aiding the due diligence process of future investments. By being active in the due diligence process, I was able to review Stock Purchase Agreements of various companies as well as to build Capitalization Tables and Investment Briefs. This gave me a “behind-the-scenes” view of start-ups that helped me really understand the traits of successful start-ups across a variety of industries. In addition to performing due diligence, I was placed on valuation projects of each of the portfolio companies. Unlike valuations of public corporations, early-stage valuations cannot be based on revenues and cash flow because they are non-existent for the majority of cases. As a result of this issue, venture capital funds use different valuation techniques to place exit values on existing portfolio companies. It was extremely interesting to learn how start-ups are evaluated from the financier’s perspective and the nuances of venture capital financing.
All in all, my experiences at Ryzing and Artists and Instigators gave me a comprehensive view of the entrepreneurial community and helped me discover and confirm the career path that fit my in both finance and technology.