Chad Nachiappan EE’17 interned at Directly and True Ventures in San Francisco, CA

2015-2016 Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow

Summer at Directly ( and True Ventures (

How did you find the position?

I found out about the program ( through searching for internship opportunities at a start-up in the Bay Area. Additionally, I found a number of Penn students who were part of the same program in past years.

What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?

I’m very interested in the tech space. And working at a start-up is the best way for me to learn how amazing products are made and how amazing teams are formed. Furthermore, making a huge impact with a small, fast-moving team really appeals to me. Directly hit all of these points for me.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?

Pay attention to the founders and supervisors you will be working with. Choose a great team over a mediocre team with a good product any day. Look at the people who you will be learning from. Also, show the start-up that you can really add value during your 10-12 weeks there. That may mean learning product design, code, or business strategies. And you can show these things in a side project that really encompasses your strengths. For me, the past summer was the second time I worked at a startup. My freshmen year, I worked with an iOS Email app startup founded by two Wharton MBAs and a recent Wharton + Engineering alum. My sole focus there was software engineering and developing and iterating on features. Sometimes, you feel like the startup is moving like a particle undergoing Brownian motion. That’s an exciting

I learned a lot about the functioning of a startup. Many see company culture as trivial, but it is definitely a major part of a company’s success. You want to be surrounded by not only the most talented and hard-working people, but also importantly, genuine and friendly people. My fellow colleagues at Directly literally embody that.

My experience with the fellowship program at True Ventures was not the standard startup experience since we were working partially at a venture capital firm. We met with 3 founders every week in a seminar-style lecture. Everyone who works at True is super nice and approachable. The relationships we made at True are invaluable.

At the same time, the structure of the program meant that we couldn’t be fully immersed at the portfolio company that we were working at. However, it was definitely a well-coordinated balance between the VC side and the Start-up side of things.

I definitely want to work in the tech industry. Most companies involve some use of technology, and as students looking to get jobs as those firms, the best thing we can do is show those companies that we have the skills to make an impact.

Work on a side project, take an independent study course, push yourself to learn beyond the classroom. A strong analytical skill-set will always be in demand.

I want to express a sincere thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Roy and Lyn Neff and the Wharton Entrepreneurial Fellowship program for providing support during my time at a startup. Their support serves as a reminder to always give back.

I couldn’t have been happier with my time at Directly and True Ventures and would wholeheartedly recommend getting involved with a small team at some point during your college career. It makes for some great lessons on being creative and challenging yourself to get things done. Furthermore, the relationships you make are super important. If you have any further questions or would like to get in touch, feel free to reach out to me at Happy to help out in whatever way I can!