Dhruv Toshniwal (W’13), interned at CB Insights in New York, NY

2011-2012 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient

How did you find the position?
Through the M&T listserv and by talking to friends.

What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
I wanted to do something different, and gain hands-on work experience.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
There are a ton of cool start-up opportunities out there; you just have to look hard enough to find them.  Don’t be too particular about exactly what the start-up does – you are going to learn a lot of skills applicable in any industry regardless of the specifics of the start-up you work for.

About the Summer Experience
From the first day in the incubator at CB, I knew that this internship was going to be like none that I had ever experienced before. I wasn’t just going to come in to the office every morning and have list of mundane predefined tasks that I’d have to check off, after which I could head home only to return to do the same the next morning. I was going to have the opportunity to do real work – ephemeral in nature – in the manner that I found most efficient – only bounded by a cloud of directional supervision and my imagination.

And the looseness of the structure of the internship was liberating! At all times, there was a final goal in mind – to develop a product that would take the market by storm; yet the methods to reach this end were not explicitly stated. We were given, along with carefully measured guidance, the freedom to discover for ourselves what worked best and what didn’t.

If any company knows what it means to value its interns – it is CB. I was entrusted with the power to develop my own sub vertical, a financial technology database that built upon the existing framework of CB Insights private company information database to cater to VC’s, angel investors and bankers in the fintech space. And developing this product that was to be launched at the end of the year was the central focus of the internship.

But apart from development of Fintech Insights, I had a myriad of responsibilities that ranged from the glamorous task of writing up of blog posts on Chubby Brain about trends in the industry that would be featured in the NY Times, to the not so glamorous task of cleaning up errors in the database.  Every one of these responsibilities taught me something different. From the industry trend research briefs that I wrote up weekly, I learned a host of excel skills. From the chubby blog posts – how to identify what an audience of entrepreneurs might be interested in learning more about. And from the investor cleanups – how patience and perseverance pays.

The biggest takeaway from the internship was the realization of the power of loose structure. Oftentimes, we try to micro-manage, to be perfectionists, or to tell people exactly what we want of them. And oftentimes that leads to a quality product. But it takes away the spark of creativity, the innovative magic that’s needed to drive a start-up; or any meaningful endeavor in life for that matter.