Neal Modi (W’10), interned at ChubbyBrain in New York, NY

2009-2010 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellow

How did you find the position?

Talk to friends, you’d be surprised how many cool contacts they may have.

What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?

I feel the best way to learn about a business is to help start one. The skills are transferable as well for most industries you may want to go into later.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?

Trying to find a job at a startup requires the same skills as working at one— initiative, resilience, and creativity. Take time to talk to people, do research, and be creative when you email/call startups and pitch yourself to them. Also, expect to get a lot of “no’s” before getting any “yes’s”. Remember, no matter how many “no’s” you get, you only need one “yes,” so don’t give up on the search.

About the Summer Experience

I couldn’t have asked for a better work experience last summer than my internship at ChubbyBrain. I never expected to be given so much responsibility with such little structure, and that taught me my most important lesson for the summer— how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. No safety nets, no training program, no established market space or revenue model or customers, and no assigned daily task. But honestly, that’s what made my summer fun and challenging; finding all these things out for myself.

ChubbyBrain is a tech startup looking to democratize information on startups, VCs, and angels. With a free, online database of over 23,000 startups and 3,000 investors, ChubbyBrain had a business model that I believed in, and I think that is an important factor to take into consideration when looking to work for a startup. You’ll be substantially more committed to the work and the company if you believe in its business idea as well.

My work involved everything from researching the Mobile 2.0 industry to creating a data- driven model analyses on VC funding to talking with VCs on the phone about our company’s new data platform. However, some work was not as sexy, such as uploading hundreds and hundreds of startup profiles onto our website, or doing routine editing on the site. I think the diversity of the work speaks well to the nature of being an entrepreneur— expect to do everything and anything to get your company off the ground. But that’s what I liked best about my work— the learning curve never ended, and it was a constant challenge.

The chance to put yourself out there and do something meaningful at a startup has such a low opportunity cost, especially during your undergrad summers. The updside is that you’ll leave the company in a much better position than when you started, and you’ll be able to quantify if. Additionally, the people you work with—even if it’s just one or two people—you’ll get to know very well. I can safely say that the three co-founders of my company are some of the brightest people I’ve met in my life, and the chance to get to know them on a more personal level was invaluable. Take the road less traveled—you’ll be surprised what you pick up along the way.