Carlos Andres Valenzuela WG’15 interned at Formafina in Sao Paulo, Brazil

2014-2015 Sutton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow

I spent my summer internship at a home deco e-commerce startup, Formafina, in Sao Paulo (Brazil) and helped to open the office and operations in Bogota (Colombia). As a former entrepreneur working directly with the founder of the company was an incredible experience that reassured my wish to start a company in the near future. During my first year in Wharton I struggled a lot trying to define exactly what I wanted to do for the summer. Wharton is a school that opens the doors of any job you want in any part of the world and the amount of possibilities can make your decision making process very complicated. I tried different industries –banking, consulting, and tech- and after being immerse in the whole recruiting process I realized that the summer internship was a unique opportunity to develop skills you always wanted to acquire and to prove yourself in areas you did not had previous experience on.

I focused my energy and search in ecommerce marketing roles in startups in Latin America. My reasoning for that was the following: (1) coming from Latin America I understood how far behind we are in e-commerce and all the opportunities that comes with it, (2) I always wanted to work in ecommerce because it enables businesses of all sizes to target, segment and reach its consumers without being physically present and it disrupted the whole marketing field, (3) I had previous experience in operations and finances and did not know anything about marketing – without marketing business cannot succeed and therefore I wanted to have a real world experience in this field.

While I was sizing opportunities in this field the founder and CEO of Formafina contacted me when he saw my resume in Wharton’s Resume book. It was a total surprise and I immediately started working on the possibility of joining the firm. At that time I already had another offer from a startup but FormaFina’s team and vision was unique and it completely grabbed my attention. At FormaFina I was able to lead marketing initiatives across all online channels (e.g. Facebook, Google Search & Display, Retargeting, and Affiliate Leads) and was responsible for marketing budget expenditure across channels. I defined and implemented optimization and AB testing strategy and frameworks within and across marketing channels, established marketing partnerships and implemented analytics and tracking tools. I also helped and organized the expansion to Colombia.

I believe everybody should work at least once in a startup. Although there are many startups around the world finding the right one can be a difficult task. In my experience the management team makes all the difference and I encourage students trying to land an internship at a startup to do extensive research on the team – specially the founder and CEO – to understand their motivations and why they have started the company. If you are able to find the right team for you the amount of learning during the summer will be incredible and the impact you will have in the company will be significantly important.