2015-2016 The Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
This past summer I worked at Estimize, a financial technology (FinTech) startup in New York City that operates an open platform for crowdsourced financial data.
Estimize began as a tool for anyone to make an estimate on upcoming earnings releases, which was an experiment which proved that allowing anyone to contribute to the consensus was, on average, more accurate than the individual estimates of professional Wall St. analysts. By including a diverse range of opinions including buy-side investment professionals, academics, and independent researchers, Estimize creates enormous value for investors because the diversity of contributions makes the Estimize data set a better reflection of the stock market’s true expectations.
My experience working at Estimize proved to be exactly what I hoped for in a startup internship. From the moment I arrived I could feel the energy within the Estimize team as the company was growing rapidly and radiating with the feeling that we were working on something special and innovative. In just a few weeks, four new employees were added to the team of about fifteen as we quickly outsized our office space. One of the most rewarding parts of my experience at Estimize was that I was able to work closely with the CEO, Leigh Drogen, who had extensive experience both as a former hedge fund manager and an early member of the StockTwits team. Leigh was always extremely accessible and was generous enough to set aside time to mentor me about investing, market fundamentals and his experiences as a startup founder. Working with and getting to know the rest of the Estimize team was also a great experience, as I was immersed in the fantastic company culture that Leigh has built and was able to learn a lot from my experienced co-workers.
Walking into work each day was always exciting, as we shared our office space with dozens of other tech startups in the collaborative WeWork incubator in New York. One of the best parts about a startup internship is the ability to be making legitimate contributions to the day to day operations of the company by learning on the fly and picking up any spontaneous project needed. From writing research reports for the content team to sourcing contact lists of managers at quantitative hedge funds for the sales team to establish relationships with, I was quickly given a large amount of responsibility to help the company in any way I could. On top of learning so much about trading and the FinTech sector, I was able to work with one of the company’s venture capitalists and lawyers to assist in finalizing internal work related to a recent round of financing. Working so closely with these professionals and Leigh’s generosity in setting aside time to teach me allowed me to learn a lot about the internal mechanics of the venture capital process for a startup, which I am really grateful for because of my interest in the tech and VC fields.
In offering advice to students interested in tech internships, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of research in order to branch out from the traditional internships offered on PennLink. Browsing AngelList, looking at recent VC deals and Y-Combinator batches and reading about innovative early-stage startups on TechCrunch and other media outlets are all great ways to find places to reach out to. Almost all startup internships are very informal, so just cold-emailing the founder is often a viable way of seeking out an opportunity. Early stage startups in particular are awesome opportunities to take on a great deal of responsibility and get exposure to an entrepreneurial environment because of the tight-knit nature of the team. Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you’d like to learn more about Estimize or just to chat!