Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During August 2017...

WeWork Update #8

Thursday, August 17, 2017 7:24 pm

Sadly, my time at WeWork has come to a close. I feel like no reflection or blog post can justly put into words has great my summer has been. Every expectation I had coming into this summer has been exceeded. I’ve made so many new friends from work, and found many mentors along the way. Throughout my last two weeks at the company I tried to sit down with as many people as possible and pick their brains, hear about their experience, and learn why they chose to work at a startup like WeWork. I definitely feel like the startup atmosphere is where I want to be when I pursue a job full time next year.

On that note, at the end of my internship I received some really great news from my manager and his boss. They pulled me into a conference room for a meeting and were very complimentary of all the effort I put in this summer. They told me I was the only intern out of a class of 75+ that was asked to stay longer, and they’d like for me to keep working from school if possible (An offer I accepted immediately)! After that, they extended a full-time job offer to me for work after graduation! My entire summer was made after hearing those words. They couldn’t provide any specifics as to what my position would be, due to the ever-changing, rapid growth, nature of the company – but they assured me that they would have a spot for me regardless.

I could not have asked for a better end to the summer. I worked overtime nearly every week, and enjoyed every minute of it. I learned more than I could ever imagine, made some lifelong friends, and walked away with a job. I hope you all can tell through my posts how incredible this summer has been for me, and I’m glad I got to reflect and share it all with you along the way on here. I look forward to providing a more detailed explanation of my experience during the presentations at school in a few short weeks!

WeWork Update #7

Thursday, August 17, 2017 7:24 pm

At this point in the summer, my experience has ramped up a bit. I’m the only intern left in the office, which is a major change from the seventy or so that had been running around all summer. I feel like a full-time employee at this point. No one treats me any differently – in fact I’ve been given some really cool opportunities to work with other teams outside of my own to aid on projects where they could leverage some of the work I’ve done.

I video-conferenced with both the London and Berlin teams to help them out with their proposal process. They provided me with some insights as to how they typically did things over there and I was able to provide them with some collateral I had developed for the team here in the US. I also worked with some members of the product team on a revenue tracking project. They needed access to a database I had built that had information on all enterprise deals closed for the current year. There is something really rewarding about watching a project you invested many hours in be utilized by team members from all around the company.

Throughout this whole experience, I’ve been really lucky to not have one specific role on my team. As opposed to working for a big company where I would probably only work on a certain aspect of the sales cycle, say account management, at WeWork I’ve been given the opportunity to work on every part of the sales cycle – some of which I didn’t even realize existed. I worked on the analytical and pricing side of deals to make sure we were making smart business decisions. Through this I also began to understanding our pricing model and why businesses choose WeWork over other office space providers. I’ve built out marketing/sales collateral for the entire team. When I arrived, the biggest issue the team faced was getting proposals out quickly enough – however, ever since I was brought up to speed, I’ve become able to build entire proposals myself as well as build certain stock collateral that can make future proposals require less time. I’ve closed many deals from start to finish – I even closed one deal for 45 desks that resulted in half a million dollars worth of revenue over 12 months for the company.

All of this exposure has shown me parts of the business that I do and don’t like. I now have a much better understanding of all that goes into the deal, and my perspective on sales has been forever changed. Only a few more weeks to go, and I don’t want to leave!

WeWork Update #6

Thursday, August 17, 2017 7:23 pm

One thing that I forgot to mention in my previous post that was discussed during our off-site meeting was the reorganization of accounts internally. The directors of the team decided that we needed to refocus our approach and focus on 100 or so clients with the highest potential.

The plan to split the accounts between two teams was in a draft format, similar to a typical fantasy football league. The two teams would each be given 100 picks and would alternate back and forth. Some of the clients with the highest TAM (total addressable market) would be picked first, as would clients that had already used our services before, or clients that were growing rapidly and would need office space. My manager put me in charge of data collection and research for the draft. I built out TAM estimates for clients we were interested in and assigned a draft order. This was a fun exercise because I got to look into the diverse range of companies that we work with, as well as spend time with each member of my team internally picking their brains for advice and suggestions.

On draft day, near the end of the draft my manager left me in charge of drafting a few of the clients. This was a lot of responsibility, but I had done so much preparation for the draft the entire week prior that I was the best equipped to make on the spot decisions about one client versus another. My teammates were all really appreciative of all the effort I put in and used all of the data that I compiled for draft day.

Drafting accounts was a challenging experience to manage as an intern. I was forced to make a lot of quick decisions that will impact my team long after I leave. However, I feel like I did a good job of rising to the challenge and preparing myself well enough so that the pressure wasn’t overwhelming.

I’m looking forward to making progress on some of the accounts I drafted and hopefully selling some more desks!

WeWork Update #5

Thursday, August 17, 2017 7:22 pm

The past week we had our team off-site meeting for the enterprise division of WeWork. I was really excited for this meeting because it serves as a state of the union for the enterprise team. As a newer employee in a division of the company where the average tenure is less than 3 months, I thought it would be really exciting to learn more about how the company is organized and trying to position itself moving forward.

Our enterprise sales team is like a startup within a startup at WeWork. We are constantly learning on the fly and adding new employees. Looking around from my desk I can count at least 6 full time employees who have been here for less time than myself. I feel like a veteran! Although I’ve only been here for a short time, I’ve been asked to sit down with some of the new employees and train them on things that I’ve learned. This meeting served as a way to bring everyone up to speed and make sure that we’re all on the same page.

The director of the enterprise team discussed some changes that were going to be made to our team throughout the day. Roles were re-defined, goals were set, and structure was put into place. It was nice to see the team’s long term vision and goals – although I can only say so much, I am very excited to see how much this team will accomplish over the next twelve months.

Over the course of the day I also sold 15 more desks! I’m really starting to get the hang of sales, and am really enjoying the first-hand experience negotiating and working with customers. In my time spent at WeWork I’ve generated a fairly significant amount of revenue for the company, which is not something interns typically are given the opportunity to do.

At the end of the day we went out for a team dinner. This was also really fun as it allowed me an opportunity to interact with more of the team in a social setting outside of work. Today was a long day, but a great day nonetheless!

Popping my Networking Bubble

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 4:49 pm

As I continue on my entrepreneurial journey, I am realizing more and more the power of networking. I believe that the average Wake Forest student believes they are either already building a solid network or at least have the skills to do so. However, as I thought about my own network I realized it was pretty redundant, generally speaking me and my close connections know the same people. This became troubling to me when I read an article with research suggesting that some of the biggest opportunities (whether it be ventures, jobs, etc.) of our lives come through our weak ties. So as I return to Wake for my junior year, I’ll return with a heightened sense of how can I “pop my own bubble” and expand my network.

RLM Associates Week 7

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 9:29 am

This was my second-to-last week working for RLM and a ton of final projects have to be finished up before I can leave. A lot of the time this week went to starting up and creating accounts for all the future projects we know are coming up. Having used a lot of the software and programs the entire summer, it saves a lot of time to have me set up a project. I already know all the account information and the beginning steps are a but more unclear, we can then have the new intern just go in and follow the remaining steps that are laid out. This will also give her a good idea of where each company is going without her having to sit down and try to under stand their multiple-year plans in her first week!

For the Forks In The Road book series, getting everything ready meant setting up the next 3 books with the publishing company. Once this is done, the new intern will be able to simply log on to our account and see what all the steps are as I have laid them out. I followed our format for the first book, which is more time conscious than having her figure it all out. It also meant updating the marketing plan for the series. I planned out in detail the next 2 months hoping that after those 8 weeks she will have adjusted and will feel confident working out the next plan for herself.

With one of our newer projects, we’re conducting some research with students in the fall semester. We are working with a local college and are collecting the data in a couple of ways. We spent a decent amount of time this week working with Qualtrics and with one of the professors to create an initial survey. We want to have enough data gathered this first semester so that we can take advantage of a second semester consulting class the professor teaches. If we have enough data for them to work with they will be a big help in the research project.

The final project we focused on this week was the software development. This was almost entirely going back and forth with the company just answering simple questions.

Next week is my last week so there will be a lot or organizing and information sorting, but I’m hoping to get this all squared aware so that things can keep moving forward smoothly!

The Power of the Crowd

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 10:33 am

Some of you reading this might think that this is so 2005, but it took me until second semester of my sophomore year to figure out how useful crowdsourcing can be. As an entrepreneur, I run into things all the time that I want for my company that I personally don’t have the skill to do. By using crowdsourcing, I can overcome my own limitations and knowledge gaps by relying on the collective intelligence of essentially the whole world on a pay-for-use basis. For example, Hannah and I needed an updated animation video for our Demo Day pitch. Neither one of us can animate things and we were in a time crunch, so we turned to Fiverr and within 48 hours we had the animation that we needed.

Crowdsourcing can take many forms, especially on a college campus, but more often than not it is seen as a compelling approach from an economic viewpoint. It maintains a task-based and project-oriented focus that accommodates the emerging rapid-cycle way of doing business, affording a particular degree of organizational agility. Thereby, it has the capability to fulfill growing demands for fast solutions to startup problems by leveraging the scale of the crowd. Crowds are not bound to a specific company, employer, etc. They are not defined by one specific role or tied to any particular structures. These crowds are energized by intrinsic motivations and driven by their individual desire to learn and explore. These intrinsic motivations can drive better and more efficient outcomes for the sourcing company.

Due to its plug and play nature, crowdsourcing gives entrepreneurs immediate access to enormous crowds of people, qualified to solve their challenges at low costs. At the same time, leveraging the power of the crowd takes advantage of the collective learning and knowledge in a given location that otherwise would not be possible to obtain. Despite benefits, crowdsourcing has limitations and the central risk lies in the expectations of the quality of the delivery. That is also why crowdsourcing is a perfect fit for startups, because it works best for the smaller, independent projects that startups need done.

Higher Art Galleries week #8

Saturday, August 12, 2017 9:52 pm

I cannot believe summer is already coming to an end. The end of summer means that I need to go back to Wake Forest for my senior year, which also means that Higher Art Galleries will need to operate with the founders in different states for the first time.

After this summer, however, I am confident that we will be able to work via Skype and other forms of communication to keep our business up and running smoothly.

This summer was a summer of many changes for Higher Art Galleries. Two of the three founders graduated, and all three founders (Brooke, Zanny, and myself) had to juggle jobs and internships along with our jobs at Higher Art Galleries. While juggling everything was challenging, it showed us that we could have full time jobs, go to school, and still operate the business. It is our dream to one day not need to work additional jobs, but that is not a reality anywhere in our near future.

Right now, we are focused on giving our customer what they want in the most efficient way possible. We are streamlining and changing our website, artist contracts, and other forms of communication so that our company gives the customer what they want, which in turn gives us the income to help Higher Art Galleries grow and prosper.

Brooke, Zanny, and I were fortunate enough to carry out our entrepreneurship venture in New York City this summer. We were exposed to incredibly resourceful mentors and business people who gave us guidance and advice. We took what they gave us, coupled with customer discover, and created a more succinct vision of our company- one that delivers a product that is more personal and “niche.”

Our largest realization this summer was that our customer not only wants to buy art made by students from their university, but on top of that, they want the art to remind them of their university. From a social media marketing perspective this will help boost our reach and target market as well.

I have technically finished my Wake Forest Summer Fellowship, but I never really stop working on Higher Art Galleries. This summer has been full of changes in our vision (with a few sales here and there), but more than anything it was full or business discoveries that will help us in the future. If you are interested to see Higher Art Galleries’ changes to come please follow us on social media (handles below). It’s been a wonderful summer!



EncepHeal Therapeutic’s Business Meeting Example: Critical Decisions

Saturday, August 12, 2017 10:21 am

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the factors that contributes to the efficiency of the Chorus Model is the teams ability to decide early on the likelihood of success for a particular drug compound. They use what’s called a critical success factor (CSF), which basically is criteria for determining whether a compound reaches the threshold for certain qualities, or whether the compound should be modified/discontinued. In this way, the company doesn’t waste resources, such as time and money, on compounds that are more than likely to be unsuccessful at the later, more costly stages of drug development.

Our recent business meeting was also centered around developing a critical decisions plan, but with a slightly different approach. We do already have a model to determine what qualifies for a compound to move forward, so the next step was to assess various realistic scenarios and what decisions should be made, in the likelihood of a scenario taking place.

We split up the scenarios into categories of research & development, funding, personnel, government & policy, and license & patent. They were then categorized based on whether it was a best, average, or worst scenario. So for example, our lead compound, under the best scenario in research & development, would take a minimum amount of time (<2 years) using the current development plan, and we would be able to screen for not only cocaine but also for methamphetamine and other indications. An average case scenario for personnel, for example, would be that the company has to be run under multiple operational locations. Potential tasks to be taken in result of this situation may include doing board meetings in person, determining the function of each location, and meeting guidelines for certain venture funds that are location-specific.

By anticipating and addressing possible scenarios across a range of factors that play a role in drug development, we will be prepared to respond with utmost diligence. If there is imminent change to a certain policy issue, we will be able to modify our research & development plan to accommodate this scenario. This critical decisions task has given me insight into what the experts in both the science and business sectors of the company are thinking, when it comes to the success of the company. Based on my own background in drug development and from what I’ve learned so far in this internship, I have been able to contribute to this decisions meeting with the proposition of additional likely scenarios.

Stay tuned for an example of what goes on in our science meetings!

RLM Associates Week 6

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 11:55 am

This week at RLM we have moved to focus almost entirely on the software development. I do a few daily things like check book sales and run reports on marketing campaigns. So far the marketing is going as planned. We haven’t had to do much revising but we do have to keep up with all of the updates. We just came to another point where we could change campaigns if need-be but after reviewing everything we decided to continue with the current process.

For the software, we met with the company producing it a few times to see what they would need to get started and to see what format they would prefer the information to come in. The first thing we did was define the minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP will later fit into the completed software, but the MVP can be fully developed more quickly and will allow us to start working with the product in its early stages much sooner. Defining the MVP took a lot of going back and forth and editing, first for content, and then for clarity. Once this was completed we sent it over to the company we’re working with. We than defined the entire software but more generally. The company won’t dive right into developing this fully, as they are with the MVP. Instead they will begin by building and creating wire frames, which are visual representations of what the software will look like. This ensures that we are on the same page before they begin to put too many hours into the product. They will then add a voice over to the wire frames and the video will serve as a demo and a way of explaining to product to investors and users. Doing it this way then also gives us more time to perfect the final product. Defining the wire frame once again took a lot of going back and forth but we sent that over to them by the end of the week.

Thursday and Friday of this week I was tasked with bringing a new intern up-to-date. She won’t start working for a few weeks, but we wanted to have her ready to go for when I return to school. I organized all the information for her so it was self-explanatory and then also created a little cheat sheet of what each company was, what they sold, what we are working on for them, and what step in the process we are at for each. She won’t be back for a week and a half, at which point I’ll update her. She’ll have a week to transition before I leave, so we’ll be moving quickly but I think it will be enough time!

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