2014-2015 Ambassador of Entrepreneurship
Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
My name is Cory Oringer, and this summer I worked at Estimize, a venture capital backed, financial technology (FinTech) start-up. Estimize operates an open platform for crowdsourcing structured financial data, including estimates of US equity earnings and macroeconomic indicators on www.estimize.com, as well as predictions on mergers and acquisitions on www.mergerize.com.
For Wall Street, the unmet need that Estimize seeks to address is providing analysts and others in the finance ecosystem with a better representation of the market’s true expectations, enabling them to more effectively manage their strategic investment decisions.
Estimize’s platform leverages the fact that quite often sell-side analysts face a misaligned incentive structure, typically arising from corporate access and investment banking pressures, which causes inherent biases such as herding and risk aversion to impact their forecasts. Estimize aggregates its data from not just sell-side analysts, but more importantly, buy-side and independent research analysts, alongside corporate finance professionals, industry experts and academics. By crowdsourcing views from the broadest and most diverse distribution of biographies possible, Estimize’s equity dataset has proven to be more accurate than similar sell-side only datasets such as Thompson Reuters I/B/E/S over 65% of the time.
In 2013, Forbes named Estimize one of the 9 hottest start-ups of the year, and in 2014, Fast Company named it one of the world’s top 10 most innovative companies in finance. Here’s a link to a great video that sums up what Estimize does: http://bloom.bg/1CAb3Dk
Estimize came onto my radar when I sat in on a guest lecture in a Wharton MBA class given by Wharton alum and venture capitalist Bob Greene, founder of NYC-based Contour Venture Partners. During his talk, Bob singled out Estimize as one of his portfolio companies that was doing something truly different and rapidly gaining traction in the FinTech space. With the timing of his lecture coinciding with my decision to pursue a dual concentration in finance and statistics at Wharton, I recognized that working at Estimize could provide me with my first real-world exposure to the finance industry in a unique start-up environment. I wrote an email to Leigh Drogen, the company’s founder and CEO, shared the story of seeing Bob speak at school and expressed my interest in a summer internship with Estimize. I heard back from Leigh within a few days and scheduled an interview at the office in NYC a couple of weeks later.
For those in pursuit of the “ideal” summer internship, my advice is to think beyond the starting point of merely utilizing Penn’s Career Services. Of course, the obvious first alternative is to tap into all of your available networks, including friends and family. What might be less obvious though, but worked well for me, is to build and expand your network by regularly attending on-campus presentations by guest speakers. Each of these events represents a real networking opportunity— particularly when the guest speaker is a Penn alumnus with an ongoing, emotional connection to help Penn and its students. When it comes to these invaluable (and free) guest lectures, I say, “If you don’t go, you won’t know.”
It’s hard to be brief about my summer experience at Estimize because it was nothing short of unbelievable. I worked directly for Leigh, who is 28 years old and started his career as a quantitative hedge fund analyst. In 2014, he was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30 in Finance” and Business Insider’s list of “The Most Powerful Person in Finance at Every Age”.
Because of the small size of the company, I had the unique opportunity to sit beside Leigh in our office every day, and observe and absorb how he ran the company with incredible poise. Leigh provided me with meaningful assignments right from the outset and, throughout the internship, I was privileged in that he set aside time to personally mentor me and teach me about technical analysis, trading and investing, among other things. I can say with complete sincerity that I was excited to be at the office early every morning, and
I never had a shortage of responsibility.
My first week’s assignment was to expand the stock coverage on our platform by adding over 250 publicly traded company stock tickers to the Estimize database. I conducted analysis of each company’s financials, collected historical earnings fundamentals data (EPS and revenue) for each one, and then uploaded the compiled data onto our website to generate each new stock’s profile page. Through my work on this first assignment, I gained Leigh’s trust and he gave me increased responsibility by asking me to work concurrently on two larger, summer-long business development projects.
In my first business development project, I sourced a contact list of Senior and Chief Economists at several major financial institutions, including bulge bracket banks and boutique economic research groups. Although I had no previous cold-calling experience, I quickly became comfortable on the phone developing and managing relationships with these executives. Eventually, I successfully convinced a number of them at firms such as Credit Suisse, Societe Generale, PNC Financial Services and Daiwa Capital Markets, among others, to join conference calls that included Leigh, during which we jointly sold them on the idea of joining Estimize and inputting their economic indicator forecasts on our platform. These big-name additions to the Estimize community of contributors really helped spur the growth of our macroeconomic indicator dataset, which had been operational for less than three months when I began.
My second mandate, which also required direct customer contact, was to upsell to existing Estimize buy-side community members newly released add-on products, including our Excel plugin and front-end premium features. As with the outreach to macroeconomic indicator estimate contributors, Leigh and I held numerous conference calls, and had great success in closing deals.
In addition to my day-to-day work on these projects, Leigh suggested that I challenge myself even further by diving into the summer’s earnings season, creating a personal analyst profile and contributing my own forecasts to the Estimize platform. Over the course of the internship, I covered over 50 different stocks in various sectors of interest to me, submitting my own estimates for each company’s quarterly earnings fundamentals (EPS and revenue). In upcoming quarters, I plan to continue to submit forecasts for these same stocks to build my track record and accuracy percentile over time on the platform.
At the end of the summer, Leigh offered me the opportunity to continue working remotely from school with Estimize. Fortunately, I was able to structure my schedule at Wharton to take advantage of this phenomenal paid, part-time role. Needless to say, I’m incredibly appreciative of all that Leigh has done for me, grateful that I can continue to be part of the team, and excited for what’s ahead for this fast-growing company.
To conclude, I have some final thoughts I’d like to share. Regardless of whether you receive only a single internship offer with nominal pay, or if you’re fortunate enough to receive multiple internship offers, remember that an internship is a short-term stepping stone opportunity to learn and that compensation should not be the priority. In my case, with the financial support of the Wharton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowship, I passed on a higher paying position with another great start-up because the fit and potential for learning with Estimize just felt really right. Importantly, a summer internship is short in duration, so it’s critical to make your mark quickly by proving yourself, starting day one, as diligent, reliable and trustworthy, and to carry this out every day of your internship.
I encourage students to learn more about the support provided by the Ambassadors of Entrepreneurship program, to use it as an additional resource in expanding their network, and to reach out to me anytime!