Maggie New (W’13), interned at Wishberry in Philadelphia, PA

THE 2011-2012 AMBASSADOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient

This past summer I worked at Wishberry LLC, a personalized wish-list website catered towards college students, post-college graduates, and young adults in their 20’s. The site provides a similar function to a wedding registry, but is applicable for any gift-giving occasion, including birthdays, graduation ceremonies, and holidays among other notable events. Wishberry is unique because of its integration with social media and its ability for many people to “chip-in” for an expensive gift.

Felicia, the CEO of Wishberry, had attended Wharton Undergrad and was a Joseph Wharton Scholar, so she looked to Wharton when searching for interns. I was connected with Wishberry and Felicia by Dr. Martin Asher, the Director of Research and Scholars Programs for Wharton Undergrad, and became excited about the opportunity to directly collaborate and learn from an individual with such a remarkable professional experience focused on a topic so aligned with my interests.

The experience of working for a company that is in its early stages is unparalleled because of the impact you can have in its development as well as the unique challenges start-ups face. At Wishberry, I was given a tremendous amount of responsibility and ownership. My formal title was VP of Marketing, under which I developed the overall marketing plan for Wishberry, which included both the planning of on-campus viral events and promotional sweepstakes, as well as the company’s strategy for Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.  My responsibility entailed extensive research of marketing publications and blogs, as well as understanding successful strategies employed by other web-based companies.  Additionally, I conducted market sizing analysis of the wedding gift and wedding registry markets for Wishberry’s business plan, worked to redesign the company’s website, and created the company’s video and photo competitions. Finally, I cultivated numerous business partnerships with product suppliers, such as restaurants and college dorm furnishers, by negotiating contract terms and revenue sharing with business owners and managers.

Although working for a start-up company can often mean a lack of formal structure, this is a tremendous opportunity to obtain responsibilities ordinarily reserved for more senior employees. Furthermore, you have access to work directly with those who developed, drive, and direct the company’s vision and future. As an employee for a small start-up, your opinion is extremely valuable and your thoughts are often acted upon. In this role, you can make a lasting impact on the direction of the project. Being present for the company’s beginnings means you are there to help guide the company past some of the biggest obstacles it will encounter. The opportunity to learn from mistakes and adapt your plans on the fly enables you to gain tremendous confidence for any future endeavor you will face throughout your career. More tangibly, the meaningful relationships you will form with such entrepreneurial and driven mentors are just as valuable as the learning experience of the daily work. This opportunity for hands-on involvement in many aspects of an organization, within an environment of teamwork and collaboration, is rare.

After a summer of working for Wishberry, my advice to all other students interested in pursuing an opportunity at a start-up is to go for it! The satisfaction and excitement of helping to create something new, attain tangible responsibilities, have your voice be heard, and cultivate meaningful mentorship relationships is an opportunity that is unparalleled for any undergraduate student.