Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Week 8

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3:35 pm

My summer at EquityZen has been quite an experience. Even though I learned a lot about the startup world prior to the start of my internship through methods like reading and talking to others, I have learned an even greater amount by showing up to work everyday and immersing myself in the startup scene. The internship as a whole has been an extremely rewarding experience as it has taught me things that could not be learned in a traditional learning environment- things like networking, how to speak up in a respectful way, and how to collaborate with others with completely different professional backgrounds.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been a part of a number of projects over the course of my internship. However, the most rewarding project was by far the “Companies Trending Page”, a separate section of EquityZen’s website that contained a database of what companies clients had an interest in. This project was more design and technical oriented, which ultimately forced me to go outside my comfort zone of topics like finance and business. Although this project had a lot of ups and downs, it was very satisfying to see the finished product live on the website, which helped drive a significant amount of additional traffic to the website.

Overall, my internship experience this summer was not only fulfilling, but also challenging. The various challenges I faced this summer have been wonderful learning experiences. I look forward to sharing some of these experiences beyond these posts in a few weeks.

Week 7

Friday, July 11, 2014 12:23 pm
Over the course of my internship, I’ve learned about the importance of leadership and how it can affect the direction and future of a startup company. When a company experiences its growing pains, it is necessary that a leader takes his or her stance in order to avoid further trouble that can arise from conflicting opinions or ideas within the company. In other words, although it is necessary for a leader to take into account the opinions of his or her colleagues, it is imperative that the leader, whether it is the CEO, President, or Chairman, makes the final decision to avoid conflicting methods of execution. Additionally, it is important that a leader or manager, especially in an entrepreneurial environment, is extremely dynamic in their ways of thinking so that they could understand all areas of their business. Although it is difficult for one to be an expert in multiple areas, it is important for an individual to be well-versed in these areas to be able to make educated decisions. Throughout this internship, I have observed others and the characteristics they embody as entrepreneurs at EquityZen. Although I still have much to learn, I could see myself in the future as an entrepreneur.

Week 6

Monday, June 30, 2014 1:59 pm

Competition is a significant challenge that EquityZen faces, as there are several other companies, both small and large, that are aiming to provide liquidity solutions for shareholders of private companies. In order to overcome this hurdle, it is necessary to differentiate oneself from others. EquityZen is setting itself apart from its competition by usinga derivative structure that transfer the economics underlying the shares without transferring legal ownership of the shares. In effect, this process is very company-friendly, since there is no transfer of control rights to strangers. EquityZen’s bigger competitors, including Sharespost and SecondMarket, are not treating the share transfers this way, meaning that EquityZen has a possible competitive edge that can be of great help in the long term. Since the secondary market for private stocks is changing constantly because of the JOBS Act, it will be interesting to see how viable this differentiation is.




Week 5

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 1:21 pm

The culture at EquityZen is similar to that of many other start-ups: fast-paced, yet laid back, with a “get work done” mentality. In other words, the environment is very quick moving with the objective of being as efficient as possible, but is not stressful at all as the office culture is very relaxed. Similar to other organizations, executive decisions are made by the co-founders. However, for smaller projects, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to have a significant input, which affected the ultimate decisions of these tasks. In terms of the working environment, everyone works independently and in teams. I believe that this combination is optimal as it allows individuals to think independently while having the ability to collaborate and put ideas together when working with others.

EquityZen recently completed one year of business, which called for a celebration. This celebration consisted of an informal barbecue at the apartment of one of my colleagues. This celebration was not only fun, but also a great source of motivation as it demonstrated that so much (both good and bad) can happen in one year. I’m looking forward to seeing what next week brings!


Week 4

Monday, June 16, 2014 1:18 pm
Although it may sound cliched, time is moving extremely quickly at my internship at EquityZen. Instead of being involved in one majorproject, I’m working on a variety of small projects under the umbrella of business development and research. Some of these projects include adding features and pages to the website to make it more search-friendly, conducting financial research in order to ensure that the company is aware of the secondary market conditions, and aiding colleagues in client outreach to secure future deals. Even though I have dedicated a good amount of time to each of these projects, I am most proud of my project related to improving the website because I am immediately able to see my work and the impact it has made in terms of driving traffic to the website, thanks to tools like Google Analytics.
Going into this internship, I knew that the startup world would be fast-paced, but I was extremely surprised to see that the EquityZen environment brought the term fast-paced to a whole new level. It’s very interesting to see that so much can occur over the course of only one day. For example, we’ve made and lost deals, broken records for website traffic, and expanded our office in asingle day. Participating in a multitude of projects in such a fast-paced environment has enabled me to learn a great deal about the secondary markets in terms of private equity and venture capital. By the end of this internship, I hope to continue to learn more about the technicalities regarding venture capital and private equity, as I could see myself pursuing one of these fields as a career path in the future.

Week 3

Monday, June 9, 2014 1:27 pm
EquityZen was started a little more than a year ago when the founder found himself in a financial dilemma when proposing to his girlfriend (now fiance). This process, as many know, is by no means cheap as it’s a major life event. Like many young individuals who are early employees at startup companies, EquityZen’s founder encountered the problem of sitting on a valuable amount of of illiquid equity while having much less disposable income. He thought to himself about how to find an easy way to cash in his equity in a clean and simple manner. This short story sparked the birth of EquityZen, a company that seeks to unleash and liquidate the value of one’s equity in a company.
It’s quite common to encounter and learn about other companies conquering similar issues after you’ve had your “aha!” moment of thinking of the next billion-dollar business idea. In this case, EquityZen has come across a healthy amount of competition since its early days. In effect, the company had to differentiate itself from other companies in a manner that would be viable in the long term. Long story short, the company had devised a way to transfer ownership of one’s equity that wouldn’t harm the company in terms of ownership rights. This idea is quite technical, yet it is able to differentiate EquityZen from much of its competition. Should there be any more scenarios similar to the one I described (and I’m sure there will be given the innovation in the industry), I look forward to being of help and doing my best to help grow the company.

Week 2

Sunday, June 1, 2014 8:50 pm

EquityZen is a company that has built a platform that connects employees at proven startups with accredited investors seeking to diversify their portfolios by investing in private companies. This concept allows startup employees to liquidate the monetary value of their equity while allowing investors to get involved in the world of startup companies. EquityZen was born a year ago following the implementation of the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, a law easing the securities regulations for small and growing businesses. Creating such a platform based on this change in regulations requires a dynamic team that has expertise across many areas. There are currently five full-time employees at EquityZen, each with varying professional backgrounds, allowing me to learn a little about each of their fields over the course of my internship. The team consists of founders and employees with backgrounds in finance, law, computer science, and business development. As an intern at a modern startup company, I also fulfill an array of roles, requiring me to work with each of these individuals on a daily basis. For example, in regards to finance, I have collected financial data that is needed to provide our clients with information about various private companies in the startup world. In the context of computer science, I help test prototypes of website revisions before they go live on the web, ensuring that there are little to no bugs that prospective site viewers would encounter. In regards to law, I help gather information that the SEC or other government agencies have issued that would be of importance to the secondary equity market. Finally, in respect to business development, I help market EqiutyZen’s website through numerous SEO tactics that can ultimately expand our client base. All in all, I look forward to learning and understanding the importance each field plays in the growth of a startup firm. Excited to see what next week holds!

My First Week

Friday, May 23, 2014 5:35 pm

My role as an intern at EquityZen, a company that has created a platform for employees at start-ups to sell their equity to accredited investors, consists of a variety of tasks spanning across various fields. These fields include business development, law, and finance. By juggling various responsibilities amongst these different, yet complementary, fields, I can certainly say that there’s never a dull moment since the start of this internship. I personally enjoy the fast-paced nature of this working experience as it is showing me that a start-up requires its employees to be prepared for anything that is thrown at them. In addition, these different roles forces oneself to explore areas and topics beyond their comfort zone, allowing them to become a better-rounded individual. Looking into the near future, I expect to expand my knowledge in topics in which I don’t have much experience, including law and finance. For example, one day, I was given the task of researching the financials of various technology companies prior to their initial public offering (IPO) by analyzing their S-1 filings. Prior to this internship, that previous sentence would have sounded extremely foreign to me. However, after learning about S-1 filings (an SEC filing used by companies planning on going public) and their intricacies, I have been able to expand my knowledge in new areas that may help me in the future. All in all, through projects like the one I described above, I look forward to learning more about whatever is thrown at me. I can’t wait to see what the future of this internship holds!

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