2014-2015 Ambassador of Entrepreneurship
Sutton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
A friend I met during a trip to San Francisco did the program and suggested I apply.
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
I wanted to make a big impact and move fast with a small team.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Work on projects and learn to design or code; convince them that you have a lot of value to add.
For me, the past summer was the second time I worked at a startup. My freshmen year, I worked with a real estate startup founded by two Wharton MBAs. I worked on various tasks, from using Google Analytics and optimizing our AdWords marketing campaign to designing the landing pages of the company. At times the operations of things felt a bit scattered, but for a fast-growing startup that is completely normal. I liked wearing different hats and seeing the fruits of my labor when I worked with small teams.
During my sophomore fall break, I went on a trip called the Penn Tech Trek. It was the first time I was visiting the Valley and it validated tech as the industry I wanted to make a significant impact on. I met a friend, Yash, who told me about a program he did with True Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm. It sounded incredible so I decided to apply. The program is called the True Entrepreneur Corps Fellowship. Every Thursday, we worked at the True Ventures office, listening to 3 founders or reputable VCs in the valley who came in and spoke to us about their experiences, and learning about the venture capital industry. For the rest of the week, each fellow worked at one of True Ventures’ portfolio companies. I worked at Streetline, which is a smart parking company. My role was business development and strategy. I worked with a team internally referenced as the “warship team”; we were pursuing a high-risk project that would shift the business model of the company if it succeeded. I also worked closely with the senior marketing director and SVP of business development to present a deck on whether the company should invest resources into the new market under consideration.
I learned a lot about the functioning of a startup. I learned the importance of company culture, which many people view as silly and trivial, but it is debatably the most important factor to the success of a venture. At the end of the day, you are spending the majority of your life at work with your colleagues. You want to be surrounded by not only the most talented and hard-working people, but also importantly, good, genuine people.
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. There were pros and cons to this. The pros were the people that I met and the amount of learning I got out of the fellowship. We met with 3 founders every week, and received their personal contact information to follow up for one-on-one conversations if we wanted to. The people at True Ventures are the most genuine people I have met, and I learned a lot about venture capital. At the same time, the structure of the program meant that we could not be 100% fully immersed at the portfolio company that we were working at. That said, I am incredibly grateful for the experience I got, both from the venture capital and startup side of things.
Nowadays, most startups are in the tech industry. Even if they are not, they involve some use of technology down the road, whether that be setting up their home website or launching an AdWords marketing campaign. The best advice I can give is to learn programming and/or design. Those two skills
will perpetually be in high demand, and will make you an infinitely more attractive addition to the team if you have them, in addition to the soft skills that you have.
I want to express a sincere thanks to Jeff Sutton and Wharton Entrepreneurial Fellowship program for providing support during my time at a startup. Their support serves as a reminder to always give back.