2010-2011 Startup Internship Award winner, supported by the Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board
Based in Mumbai, India Netmagic solutions (netmagicsolutions.com). Netmagic is in the business of providing hosting solutions to small-medium sized businesses and large enterprises. The company has four distinct products it offers its customers 1) Collocation – They provide the infrastructure needed to host the customer’s servers. Netmagic will provide the power, cooling, bandwidth, backup power etc. 2) Managed Services – Netmagic will installation of applications, databases, hosting of websites etc. 3) Cloud Computing – This is a buzz word in the industry. A number of companies such as Rackspace and Amazon offer it in the US.
My summer internship search was not a conventional one. Prior to coming to Wharton, I was always interested in spending my summer at a start-up. I had a lot of trouble deciding the location and the industry I wanted to focus on. With Wharton you have so many options and for me it was very hard to decide what I wanted to focus on. To start off, I literally locked myself in the room for the entire day and asked myself what I enjoyed doing the most. I have an engineering background and enjoy the techie stuff but also have an interest in finance. So I narrowed the broad industry choices into finance startups and technology/telecoms startup. I then had to decide the region. I grew up in India and have spent most of my professional career in the US. I visit India three-four times a year and have been amazed by the recent growth in the region. Since growth drives a lot of new businesses I figured there must be a lot of startups in India. I started by going through the alumni database. After speaking to a few alumni I got a few leads. I flew down to India during December break and met with a lot of companies. The finance startups were mainly small boutique investment banks and PE shops and that didn’t sound very compelling. I started reading the local news and read about an investment a venture firm had made in Netmagic. That caught my eye and after a quick google search I learned more about the company. I had some knowledge of the industry Netmagic operated in because of my tech hobbies and also because I had invested in a similar firm during my last job (see below). I cold-emailed the CEO by trying different permutations of his first and last name. In the email I gave my background and also my experience in the industry. The CEO didn’t respond. During this time I also attended the Wharton PE Trek in India and met with a venture fund who knew the company. I asked for an introduction and they obliged. I spoke to the CEO over the phone and he seemed engaging. During the course of the semester I kept in touch with him by sending him relevant news and industry research. A few months after building a personal rapport I asked for a summer internship to which he agreed. During this period I did a lot of diligence on the company – their reputation, the culture etc. so I knew I wouldn’t be wasting my time during the summer.
Prior to Wharton, I worked at General Atlantic, a global private equity firm, where I helped evaluate investment opportunities in telecom, technology and business services. Prior to General Atlantic I worked for Lehman Brothers in the investment banking division focusing on clients in telecom. At General Atlantic, a lot of my job involved reading business plans, evaluating new ideas and meeting entrepreneurs and management teams. Given that, I figured it would be interesting to experience the operational side of an exciting, growing company. Further, I have always had an entrepreneurial interest and thought spending a summer at a start-up could be an inspiring experience.
Advice for Students
It is very easy to get sucked in to the i-banking, consulting and PE recruiting scene at Wharton. It is also very hard to say no to any of these jobs as they are terrific places to learn. However if you have an appetite for risk and want to learn exponentially more during the summer, do consider working for a startup. Even if your goal is to be a professional for the rest of your life it is rare that you will ever get a chance to take a break from your career and work in an entrepreneurial setting. Having said that finding the perfect start-up internship is not easy. I would recommend students start off by asking the industries and geography they are interested in and find a way to find some common theme with their long term career goals. That will help in limiting some choices. Also take full advantage of the tremendous speakers and executives who come on campus. Speak with them and ask them if they know of any companies in the areas you are interested in. Also when you find a start-up it may not be easy to convince them to take you on board. The startup environment is generally very busy and they may not have a role carved out for a Wharton student. It may be helpful to know your stuff so when the first phone call/meeting happens you can impress them with your knowledge of the industry and/or how you can add value with the skills you possess. One final note- The summer is a very important time in a two year MBA program. Even though most startups lack structure be sure to have a good sense of what your basic responsibilities will be prior to joining.