2015 Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
Technical MBA Internship at Tesorio – Steven Finn WG’16
How did you find the position?
I first ran into Carlos Vega & Fabio Fleitas pitching Tesorio at an early event for Founders Club. I had no knowledge of the space, and the product they were working on made a lot of sense to me. I ran into Carlos a few days later and told him I was interested in what they were doing. We spoke a few more times over the course of the year, and decided to work together in early May.
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
Before Wharton I worked as a software engineer in Internal Systems at Bloomberg. I found the work interesting, loved my team, and loved the company, but at times it felt big. On top of that, most of their software’s code base (much of which is over 30 years old) uses legacy languages and technologies. I craved a fast paced, cutting edge, iterative environment and more day-today variation in my responsibilities. I knew I wouldn’t find it in a large established company. I came to Wharton knowing that I would either work for a start-up or start one myself.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Skip EIS’s. Skip coffee chats. Skip free food and liquor events for consulting and banking shops. Skip mature recruiting all together. I saw too many people who were hell-bent on starting companies during preterm putting on suits and recruiting for consulting. Students who want to work in startups need to be comfortable watching their friends take high paying jobs while knowing they won’t have summer plans for several months. At least you can have a good time during FRP & Q2! Also, use the resources available to you. Most of the networking I did was through Entrepreneurship Club, Founders Club, entrepreneurship classes (EAS590, OPIM614, MGMT801, etc), and Wharton Entrepreneurships’ Entrepreneur in Residence program.
After speaking several times with Carlos and Fabio throughout the year, I decided to intern there in mid May. Shortly after that, Carlos informed me that they’d been accepted into YCombinator, and that he and Fabio would be in Silicon Valley for the summer. Being on the team as they were going through Y-Combinator and later raising money taught me a lot about what the most successful incubator in the world thinks about how startups should operate. We had weekly YC debrief meetings with the whole team to discuss what YC had taught them that week, and these were always enlightening.
My role had multiple objectives. I was to be the sole engineer in the Philadelphia office, so it was my responsibility to keep everyone in the loop on what was happening in the platform. Also, I was tasked with working with the whole team and COO to research, integrate, and even build tools necessary to run Tesorio. This was the part I found particularly fascinating.
I’d like to start my own start-up(s) one day, and the research I did into SAAS providers and open source technologies was invaluable in helping me understand what it takes to do that from a tech perspective. Coming from Bloomberg, I’d only really been exposed to an environment where literally EVERYTHING is built in house. That is a far cry from working in a startup, where engineering resources are scarce and are busy building out and iterating on the core platform. Startups don’t have time to build their own CRM, their own customer support chat, their own email marketing tools, or the endless other things a company of any size needs to run smoothly. I was personally responsible for researching, selecting, and integrating several of these exact tools into Tesorio’s platform and workflows.
My longer-term project was to help the COO, Kimberly Gress, develop a plan known only as “Kim’s Evil Plan.” This involved designing an integrated system for viewing customer data that would streamline the day-to-day work of our customer engagement team. By pulling in data from the Tesorio platform, the billing system, the CRM, chats, support tickets, and all other sources of customer data, the engagement reps would be able to see what we referred to as a “360 degree view of the customer.” While the execution of this plan will take a long time and it isn’t done yet, I’m confident that the tool it results in will help Tesorio service customers better without the friction of needing to access multiple systems on a support call. Being able to provide this level of service to customers should keep them happy, keep churn down, and keep everything running smoothly enough to allow Tesorio to focus on growth and profitability before being bogged down by unhappy customers.
Overall, my internship was perfect for me. It provided the high speed, flexible, ever changing startup environment I was seeking, allowed me to stay in Philly (where I plan to stay after graduating), and gave me a perfect balance of engineering/coding work and more qualitative work. Most importantly, it gave me a working knowledge of web development (I’d spent most of my professional career coding Bloomberg Terminal functions), and the chops to do research and know where to look for the tools I’d need to most efficiently start my own company. I consider this experience to be invaluable, and I’d be excited to work with the Tesorio team or anybody on it in the future.