2013-2014 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
My best friend and roommate was constantly working on either of his two startups, Blend and EKR, Inc., or his fund over the past year while I sat back and watched while focusing on school work. Soon though I was enamored with his work and would listen in with him on his client calls or help him brainstorm solutions to logistical problems. Finally, he asked me I was interesting with working with him and Evan Rosenbaum, who I had known since freshman year, as a marketing intern for EKR.
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
Before the idea of working at a start-up came up I was very unsure of what I wanted to do. As a marketing and management concentration it seemed like consulting was the direction I was headed, but I found the process of OCR difficult to actually get an internship where I really wanted to be. When the idea of working for a start-up was brought up by my best friend, I immediately jumped on board. I knew a start-up would give me the perfect environment to learn an enormous amount and actually work for a company where they were personally invested in me and I in them.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
My advice for students is to really look hard for companies that match their interests. I know my internship was very easy to find, but for others the best thing to do is just to start early. Find out what companies are out there, what industry you might be interested in, and what you actually want to do for that company. The earlier you know this the earlier you can really hone in on those places that you would work best at. From there it’s all about getting to know someone enough so that they know your committed and that this is actually what you want to do.
About my summer:
EKR created a product called Layers. Layers is the only digital publishing platform that allows authors to easily self-publish books, with interactive and participatory content, on any device. It combines the digital experience of a Kindle, the depth of Wikipedia, and the community of Facebook.
My job was as the head of author outreach. Since Layers is a platform that authors can publish books on, we first needed a contingency of authors that could pledge to use Layers when it is released in mid-October. My job consisted of collecting author’s contact information, contacting over a thousand authors (over the course of the summer), and setting up calls where I would be directly selling Layers to the authors. The best part about start-ups is that every employee counts and everyone is actually necessary to keep moving forward. My job was vitally as how successful I was over the summer at getting authors on board would directly translate into success (and revenue) for Layers.
One aspect of start-ups that are beneficial is that no matter what your specific role is, you are still involved with every part of the company. For Layers, I would problem solve in all aspects of the company, I was used to model the product, and we even exchanged advice with the people working near us at our accelerator program in Burlingame (if you’ve seen the ads for the product Tile on Facebook, that’s what those people were working on at the time).
Lastly, the experience you get from a start-up is invaluable. I learned something new about business every single time I spoke with an author. Every meeting, every call, and every email I sent out made me better in the future. That experience can be used for to go in any direction you want in business. Fortunately for me, Layers has done well and I did well enough to sign on as the Chief Marketing Officer for Layers during the current school year and after graduation as well.