Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During June 2017...

WeWork Update #3

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 10:51 am

The summer has been flying by here in New York, and I continue to love my job more and more. WeWork has been such a great experience, both from a learning perspective as well as a social/personal perspective. I’ve met a lot of inspired people who have changed my view as to what I want in a future job or career as well as the path I plan on taking to get there. WeWork speaks frequently about their mission to change the culture in the workplace for all companies of all industries, so one can imagine how great the energy and atmosphere is here at Headquarters. I feel like this company can accomplish any goal it sets it’s sights on.

On the personal side I’ve had a really exciting week as I closed my first personally organized and managed deal! I sold desks to a company in two separate locations that will generate over $30,000 in revenue for the company over the next year. I’ve also assisted on and gotten the opportunity to see the inner-workings of deals 10x the size of my sale. My team is on pace to meet our sales goal — it’d been a really great month.

Outside of the day to day work, I’ve spent a lot of time going to each event in the WeWork Internship Program Monday Speaker series. One of the most inspiring people that I’ve listened to speak over the past few weeks was co-founder and CCO Miguel McKelvey – who put together the initial idea for WeWork with fellow co-founder and CEO (and recent college graduate) Adam Neumann literally overnight, around 9 years ago. We listened to his podcast in the office event space the other day, and it truly was a remarkable story. I encourage all to visit this link to listen to the same podcast and learn more about WeWork’s inception, Miguel’s story about growing up under unusual circumstances in Oregon, his rapid transition to becoming an owner of a multibillion dollar firm, and also to hear about all the entrepreneurial trials and tribulations WeWork has faced over the years (I loved the stories of Miguel and Adam renting zip cars to haul building materials a hundred miles while building and wiring the first office spaces by hand). The entire podcast is really great and very similar to the talk Miguel gave our intern class at orientation.

This opportunity has shown me that if you really have an idea that you believe in or are passionate about, you have to take calculated risks, never-ever give up, and always chase what you believe in. The founders of WeWork heard no from the same guy so many times, and never once let that stop them from turning their business idea into a success story. I hope to carry this same level of grit and entrepreneurial tenacity into my career.

Neighbor 4

Monday, June 26, 2017 11:09 pm

The last week I have spent some time on refining the value proposition to stores and restaurants outside the university and corporate campus setting. The core focus here is on the “tinder” UX approach for food. Under the slogan “your food at your customers fingertips – make them hungry around the clock”, are we trying to make restaurants aware of the benefits of the swiping model. Having an interactive menu with a food focused experience helps the customers experience and thus decrease misunderstandings and returns of orders. Another major USP is the fact that the card swiping model allows a restaurant to have constant customer exposure. Every other ordering platform follows the following model: decide your cuisine, choose the store, select items. A restaurant has one chance to be chosen. However, by showing the food in a fun interactive way, the restaurant has many chances to sell to the customer and can convert a picture with a right swipe into a sale. In addition, the card model allows for some interesting data analytics. Today stores know their bestsellers. With our application, the also know what people actively dislike. Further, having an item by item view restaurants can easily test new pictures, prices and descriptions of their food. In line with a more showcasing the product and service approach have we updated and enhanced our website www.neighbor.delivery .

Lastly, I have been starting the process to raise some additional capital. The core focus however is not so much on the capital but rather on finding a senior partner in the US who believes in the product and has a strong network. This will allow us to expand more rapidly and make better and calculated decision with an experience partner.

Our development is still in time and we are making process in negotiations with meal plan providers. We have also started an extensive around of customer discovery with private/family owned restaurants to fully understand what they need and what we need to be able to get them on a platform like ours.

Week 7 at P.S. Snacks

Monday, June 26, 2017 10:44 am

Last week was probably one of the busiest weeks I’ve had at P.S. Snacks so far. We had an all day photoshoot for our social media content that consisted of days worth of preparation in order to get all the ideas, props, and recipes in order. Since a lot of the content on their social media is recipe-based, we had to come up with new and inventive ways to use the Cookie Dough. Additionally, we try to involve products from other health food companies in order to be able to co-brand and tag them in posts, which will increase the exposure of our brand. I also went to two events to represent P.S. Snacks, one being a tasting at Equinox that involved other companies like Sweetgreen for a “Summer Solstice” sampling where their members got to take samples and hear about our company. The second event was an all you can eat happy hour event where roughly 20 different companies set up booths for sampling.

Throughout my time at P.S. Snacks, I have learned a few things about leadership and entrepreneurial management. One big thing I’ve learned is the importance of delegation. As a start-up, there are many red tape and nit-picky tasks that need to get resolved to reach the end goal. However, it is important to delegate those tasks to other members of the team since for the big picture tasks, the founder will have to be the one that’s directly solving the issue since they know their company and their goals for it more than anyone else. As the leader of the venture, they must prioritize which tasks need their direct attention and which can be delegated. Another thing I’ve learned about entrepreneurial management is that it is okay to ask for outside help. Whether this be advice about the business timeline, collaboration with others for the creative part of the business, or honest feedback about the product itself. When just starting out in a business, it is important to be open to all feedback and criticism since others have done this before and have figured out what works and what doesn’t.

Week 3- UpDog Kombucha

Friday, June 23, 2017 5:42 pm

 

With one owner out of town and one employee injured, my focus turned from web content to actual production of the kombucha. This past week and a half have shown me a completely different side of what working at a small business is like. For example, at larger companies, bottles are labeled by machines, but at a smaller organization, each bottle is individually hand wrapped. I had never thought about the detailed work that goes into every aspect at a small start up, and having the chance to actually do it has given me a much larger appreciation for all the hard work put in at companies this size.

 

While some tasks this week were labor intensive, they were definitely rewarding as I got to try my hand at actual brewing the kombucha I’ve been selling this summer. Being able to take part in this process has shown me exactly how true promoting our product as “small batch kombucha” and “handcrafted” as each keg and bottle is brewed right here in Winston Salem by the small number of employees. Each fruit, root, or herb used is hand washed, cut, and pureed to make our product the best it can be.

 

Not only has this given me an appreciation for the work put into each batch of kombucha, but it has helped me to learn even more about it, which in turn has helped me when it comes to making a sale or talking to potential customers at an event or market.

 

This week I was also able to work on sales, as I was given the chance to talk to a man who recently opened a coffee bar out in King, NC about carrying our product. After a series of calls, emails, and voicemails, he finally decided to give kombucha a try and placed his first (of what I hope becomes many) order! While I’ve been able to sell smaller quantities at farmers’ markets, this was my first time getting to help expand UpDog’s client base, which is growing by the day.

 

With the staff returning to full force next week, I do not know if my help will be as needed on the production side of things, but I hope to have the chance to do it again!

 

Teamwork: The Backbone of EncepHeal Therapeutic’s Initial Success

Thursday, June 22, 2017 10:32 pm

I, along with an NC State undergraduate student, are the first two interns at EncepHeal Therapeutics. Despite their small and young team, this company has already made great progress since they pitched their business idea just a couple of years ago. Their smooth and seemingly effortless progression is largely due to the Wake Forest University-affiliated science and business advisors who serve as mentors to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Science Officer (CSO), both who are under the age of 35. Some may think it to be a disadvantage to work for such a small company, but I would argue against this. Being an intern for an organization with a team of less than 20 members brings exciting responsibility with involvement in a variety of tasks. There is also a lot of visibility and the opportunity to closely collaborate with the other employees who are experts in their respective field.

On a weekly basis we have both business and science meetings that we are required to attend. More or less for everything else that the company is involved in, we are just encouraged to be a part of those activities and events. I think that both us interns are just so excited to be a part of this opportunity that we don’t even think twice about whether we’re going to attend something. We want to be familiar with every angle of how the company operates. It’s fairly easy to desire to be involved in all operations when we work under the leadership of such an amazing management team. The CEO and CSO delegate and oversee all of our tasks, but everyone is always in communication through email, phone-in meetings, and Google Drive. I think the communication between members of the management team is a huge strength that has been prevalent since the first day I started this internship. What helps drive this communication is that all of the work is transparent, with everyone having access to information surrounding the business and science aspect of the business. It’s easy to notice how passionate everyone is about the potential of this company. This is partly reflected by the constant welcoming of opinions on every matter discussed, without having only one person domineering a discussion.

EncepHeal Therapeutics is very team-oriented. As I mentioned before, there are weekly business and science meetings. The CEO and CSO are always present at both of these, so that they’re familiar first-hand with every decision made. Since this is a relatively young company, the management team consists of business advisors with extensive experience in the entrepreneurship realm, as well as a Chief Research Officer who has over 30+ years of experience in biochemical neuropharmacology. They give their expertise advice and knowledge in the meetings, but first listen to what the CEO and CSO have to say so that they too can learn to be independent leaders. Shortly after the meetings take place, the respective officer will email the team with a follow-up of what was discussed and what needs to be done moving forward. Google Drive is a very effective means to keeping everyone up-to-date with past, current, and future work. On the Drive are presentations that were given in meetings, financially-related documents like which venture funds would be best to contact first and why, organizational documents such as prioritization of tasks for the next week, etc.

Every task seems to be done in a timely manner, and this is partly due to the fact that there is no set 9am-5pm work day. For example, the other week the CEO and CSO were waiting on a response from a Program Loan they wanted to apply to. They were contacted two days before the application due date, and the CEO was away on vacation at this time. The application was already started at this point, but the additional information necessary for submission required the CEO to spend his vacation time finishing it up. At a professional level where everyone is busy handling so many jobs, it can’t be expected that everyone is going to be very reliable. To be a successful leader in a company, especially at a young age, you really have to know how to prioritize and sacrifice!

Stay tuned for how EncepHeal Therapeutics got funding to start the company and what the process looks like to continually support the pipeline of biotechnology organizations.

 

Higher Art Galleries week #4

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 9:45 pm

This week Higher Art Galleries has put all of our effort into creating a business proposal and content creation.

Our goal is to publish our content on a reimagined www.higherartgalleries.com that acts more as a hub for all things art and emerging art related, and less of a normal online gallery. As a result, our content will represent our new vision. The content will range from anything from an online video tutorial for painting techniques to our top 10 favorite art blogs. While our content will be honest and true to our core values as a brand, we want to expand our revenue stream to include paid advertising that we can integrate into our content and platform.

Since we have made a lot of changes to our business lately, customer discover is extremely important for us right now. Tomorrow (Thursday) we will be interviewing local emerging artists to test our hypothesis and narrow down our company vision.

Friday we have a very important meeting with a powerful figure who is an expert in the digital advertising and paid advertising field. We have conducted research on his area of expertise and have come up with a list of questions in order to get the most out of our meeting.

Next week I will have a full update on our customer discoveries and meeting recap!

Hurry Up and Wait

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 3:46 pm

The main challenge facing SimpullCork right now is responding to the office action on our patent. This is difficult to me as a founder because this process is largely out of my hands, given the fact that I am far from a patent attorney. At this point, I must trust that we have assembled the best team to respond effectively to our office action. I try to be as active as possible reading drafts and providing my input to ensure that our vision of the product remains constant through the whole patenting process.

In the meantime, I am focusing on our path forward after our response is filled. This involves researching the wine industry landscape and determining which path would best suit our company to introduce our product to the market. I am fortunate to have great mentors and advisors to help counsel me through this process, as well as use their personal connections to afford me the opportunity to ask questions to industry experts. Though we are in a phase of hurry up and wait, I am staying focused on the end goal!

Week 6 at P.S. Snacks

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 12:33 am

The biggest challenge facing P.S. Snacks currently is that we cannot meet our increasing demand. Since we are starting to sell in new stores, online, as well as at events; more and more consumers are becoming interested in the P.S. Snacks company and product. Though in theory this is a good issue to have, it is very difficult to deal with because it is a lot of “wait and see”. The solution to this issue is to move into a co-packer facility where they would produce our Cookie Dough for us, thereby increasing supply dramatically. This would also allow a few of us on the team to focus on other tasks that use our specific skill sets. Though we have found candidates for co-packing, with this change, we may also have to change our labels, packaging, etc. to cooperate with the co-packer’s policies and norms. All of these minute tasks take time as well as trial and error, but hopefully it is resolved in the near future so that P.S. Snacks can move into the next phase.

The key competitors for P.S. Snacks are other health-conscious cookie doughs or desserts that cater to dietary restrictions and allergies. Especially in the market we are selling in, these products are becoming more and more popular with new ventures being created all the time. We are able to compete with these products due to our unique ingredients and the genuine story behind the brand. Another group of competitors for us is brands that sell protein bars, nut butters, and other good-for-you treats. When doing a demo pitch, we combat these competitors by explaining to our consumers how our product is a great “any time of day” treat and meets almost every dietary limitation. Additionally, we have marketing materials that show the versatility of the product as well as the transparency of our ingredients. The P.S. Snacks products are very unique while also being something familiar (i.e. Cookie Dough) which I believe will beat our competitors in the long run.

WeWork Week 2

Monday, June 19, 2017 1:53 pm

My second week at WeWork was every bit as exciting as the first! I was put onto some new projects and got further involved on some existing projects. I’m learning more and more about how the companies works and have gotten exposed to some really inspiring people. I already find this experience changing how I will approach goals in my career.

Last Thursday my team had a team building dinner at Catch in NYC. Here I got to know all of my co-workers, who range in age from 22 to 26. I’m really grateful to work with such a young team because everyone is so relatable. Despite their young age however, these people are some of the most passionate and driven coworkers I’ve ever had. They all whole-heartedly believe in WeWork’s mission. Some of my team members forwent jobs at prestigious firms because they’d rather work at a company that puts community and wellness first. That idea really resonated with me, as the entire atmosphere here at WeWork is that of people who are authentic, and collaborative, yet entrepreneurially driven.

One of the things I love most about my day-to-day work here in Chelsea is how integral I feel to my team’s success. I’m getting to work on everything from sourcing clients to building proposals to editing final contracts. I’m really lucky that in just two short weeks I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn and fully understand the sales cycle from conception to close. In the coming weeks I hope to learn even more about the back end of sales — What methods do we use to source clients and how could these be better? What goes into our pricing model? What’re our margins? How do we keep clients happy and do clients typically purchase more offices after a sale – if not, how can we improve on that? In the meantime however, I’m getting to work on 3-4 major client proposals a day. These are reviewed by some of my team members and then delivered to clients (which typically are fortune 500 companies — a bit intimidating, check here to see a list of some of our past customers). My team needs me to help with this function because clients are reaching out so frequently that we’re inundated with requests. I feel like whereas some interns and friends in other jobs are getting an opportunity to learn by observation, I’m getting to learn first-hand, almost in a trial by fire fashion, which is a really exciting position to be in — and in my opinion, the best way for anyone to learn quickly.

I ‘m looking forward to learning more, developing more skills while improving on those I’ve already developed, and contributing more and more to my team in the coming weeks.

Higher Art Galleries week #3

Friday, June 16, 2017 5:22 pm

Higher Art Galleries has made tremendous progress this past week. We have had small successes (ex: creating Higher Art Galleries business cards that we can now give out to interested customers or businesses) all the way to much larger successes (ex: finding a printing partner in Brooklyn).

However, what we are most excited about this week is our redefinition of our company and what we sell/do. After weeks of contemplation and evaluation, we have decided our content creation needs to be our sole focus. Our plan is to be in the business of creating content above all else. Then, once we create content and gain a following, selling our product/products will be much easier.

There is no platform on the market right now that is a hub for emerging artists. Higher Art Galleries wants to be the fist. Our content will include many different resources for emerging artists and anyone interested in young artists. In addition, we hope to include native advertising in our content for an added revenue stream.

We want Higher Art Galleries to be so much more than an online art gallery. We want to be a one-stop shop for anything that relates to emerging artists. Whether what you want is an art related article, video tutorial, interview, or original painting, we want Higher Art Galleries to be the only website that can give you everything you need.

We have a meeting with an expert on content and distribution next week that we hope to gain insight from.

Look out for many changes in our site in the coming weeks!

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