James Chaukos WG’16 interned at Cricket Health in San Francisco, CA

Cricket2015 Neff Entrepreneurial Fellow

I spent the summer interning at Cricket Health, a healthcare startup based in San Francisco.  Here are some of the lessons that I learned about working at an early-stage company:

Use your network to find the right startup for you.  Cricket Health was started in early 2015 by Arvind Rajan and Vince Kim.  I knew Arvind from my previous job at LinkedIn as we had worked together on LinkedIn’s expansion in Asia.  Since I already knew Arvind, he trusted me at the outset and could give me responsibility without hesitation.  I also knew that Arvind would set the right culture, which is hugely important when you are a sub-10-person organization.

If possible, work for experienced entrepreneurs.  Arvind is a serial entrepreneur and over the years he has worked in a wide range of industries, ranging from hybrid/electric transportation to wireless data networks to consumer Internet.  Vince’s experience is in healthcare and venture capital, and so the founding team was an ideal combination for a health-tech startup.  Over the course of the summer, I got to see how Arvind and Vince start a company and how they make decisions.  I got to see how much time they spend recruiting, building the product, fundraising, etc.  I like to say: they knew what needed to get done each day, and they usually got those things done before noon.  They prioritized and reprioritized ruthlessly, found answers to questions quickly and I am very grateful to have sat beside them and learned so much from them.

Always focus on the customer.  The amount of time we spent interviewing potential customers and understanding their pain points was shocking to me.  Everyone in the company was expected to talk to customers and we used any method we could to get to them:  we found them through friends and family, we tapped our professional networks, reached out to organizations online/through Facebook and any other channels we could find.

Last, I would say: don’t be afraid to take a stand.  At small companies, every person is entitled to an opinion.  As long as you do your research and are thoughtful, your opinions won’t fall on deaf ears.  Over the summer, I created the investment case for our focus on the dialysis industry.  It wasn’t a space I knew well but with the right research and preparation, I could defend my position on the space and became a partner to the co-founders as they decided to focus on this new area.

I decided to continue working for Cricket Health after my summer ended, and if you have any questions about my experience or want advice on whether you should pursue an entrepreneurial internship, please feel free to reach out to me at jchaukos@wharton.upenn.edu