2015-2016 Sutton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
I found my opportunity with Bungalow Insurance through cold calling the founders. What was your motivation for working at a startup this summer? I came back to school because of my career interest in starting my own startup. It was for this reason that I looked at and only considered recently launched startups this past summer. My goal was to peek behind the scenes and see what it takes to run an early stage startup, the day-to-day life of a founder, and better understand some of the difficulties new startups typically face.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a startup this summer?
Students interested in working at a startup this summer should be ready to search on their own and be ready to articulate how their skills and experience can help a startup. Unlike mature recruiting where firms are coming on campus and the process is very structured, startup recruiting requires more diligence as students will need to drive a lot of the job search. That said, all students who want to work for a startup will be able to work for one so stay calm during the process. You might not get your first choice, but you will eventually find something that fits your interests.
Unstructured, Insightful, and Impactful
Similar to perhaps everyone who spent time at a startup this past summer, my experience with Bungalow was very unstructured. The founders have a lot of ideas they wanted to explore and implement but were constrained by the amount of time and resources they had available. Because of this, they were looking for help wherever they can get it and were very receptive to having me come in over the summer to help them with Bungalow.
My first couple of interactions with the Bungalow founders involved a lot of brainstorming focused primarily on customer acquisition and social media marketing. Though important to the business, the founders wanted to leverage my legal background and ultimately asked me to research the legal landscape and regulatory requirements that insurance carriers and agents typically face across the United States. The founders plan to use this research to prioritize the cities/states to enter and to help them prepare the required legal paperwork.
Although the project was interesting, what I found most important during my experience at Bungalow was the behind-the-scenes access. During my summer there, the founders wrestled with a lot of strategic decisions ranging from the future business model of the company to which investors to target. They had frequent conversations with an advisor, a senior executive from Venmo, to discuss strategic next steps and how to best position Bungalow for long term success. The founders’ openness and willingness to include me in these conversations and their honesty about their goals for Bungalow and what they are hoping to achieve was eye-opening and constantly reminded me of how fulfilling it is to work for a startup. Furthermore, I learned a lot about operating an early stage startup. I realized not everything has to be perfect in order for a startup to gain traction and be successful. What is most important is the user experience and the startup’s perceived effectiveness in solving consumers’ problems.
Though my experience with Bungalow Insurance had been positive, I have come to the realization that I might not be ready to start something right out of Wharton. I lack operations experience and I hope to address this deficiency either by returning to consulting, by joining a big company, or by joining an already well-established startup. That said, for those of you interested in entrepreneurship, I highly encourage you to consider working for a startup over the summer. There are perhaps no better opportunities to directly and immediately impact a company’s revenue and profitability based on your day-to-day decisions.