Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

In the 'Uncategorized' Category...

WeWork Update #4

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 1:03 pm

WeWork has been named the 5th most valuable startup in the world! Last week, our CEO called an all-employee meeting to announce some major changes/news. On the morning of the meeting, I had never seen the office so packed, everyone was excited and there was a buzz all around the office – camera crews and sound equipment everywhere, people packed together closer than on the subway, and the executive team up at the front giving the crowd very welcoming positive smiles. I felt like I was at an Apple Keynote or a ted talk. CEO Adam Neumann took the stage and made 3 major announcements:

The first announcement was that we had received additional funding from the Japanese firm SoftBank which raised our valuation to $20 billion! My team, enterprise sales, were influential in this investment as our sales numbers have grown exponentially since the beginning of the year. We’ve shown investors that WeWork is not only a small business workspace solution, but the premier global workspace partner for enterprise companies. Our little team feels like a startup within a startup – we’ve nearly doubled in size since I started a few months ago. We’ve seen unprecedented success and exceeded all of our goals – paving the way for many more exciting months to come for the company.

Although not specifically covered in the presentation, this announcement was very exciting because a $20 billion valuation places us right on the heels of companies like Uber and Airbnb and equivalent to Peter Thiel’s Palantir as the fifth most valuable startup company in the world. WeWork is a really interesting company, because while tech-based startups typically see these high valuations because of how easy it is to scale technology, we have received the same type of valuation as a real estate/services company. The future is very very bright for this company, and more people (and investors) are beginning to catch on.

The second major announcement was that we will be expanding our operations in Japan. As mentioned in the link above, WeWork plans on using some of SoftBank’s investment to expand operations in Japan and open as many as 20 new buildings in Tokyo. This is very exciting news because Japan presents the company with all new opportunities similar to those in London and New York where we have seen great success. Also, I believe that the WeWork team can make a significant impact on the toxic Japanese workplace culture. Members of the Japanese government have even recognized that there are serious issues with the way people work in Japan, and I think that WeWork’s focus on community and collaboration will fix a lot of these issues.

The third and final announcement was that WeWork has a new COO and refined organizational structure. This was perhaps the least exciting, but most interesting portion of the presentation. It’s amazing how many moving parts this company has created over the last 2-3 years or so, and at times things can get a little unorganized. By solidifying our internal structure, the company will run more efficiently. With the necessary leaders in place, we can operate with a clearer vision and eliminate redundancies throughout the company.

I’ve had an incredible few weeks here at WeWork, and have learned so much — especially from events like the meeting last week. I’ve also seen some personal success at work as I got my internship extended for an extra couple of weeks! I’m excited to spend some more time in New York and help out the team as we continue to grow and exceed our goals.

UpDog Kombucha- Week 5

Monday, July 17, 2017 7:26 pm

After weeks of work, the new UpDog Kombucha website is finally launched! You can now check out updogkombucha.com to see the final product, learn a little more about kombucha, and purchase our merchandise. It’s been so nice to have a project that I can actually see the results of and I’m really proud of how the site turned out.

Now that this project is done, I’m turning my attention to discovering new places to sell the kombucha including expanding out towards the Raleigh/Durham area. At first I assumed we would just go out there and look around for some yoga studios, but quickly learned that a lot more thought goes into choosing locations to contact. For starters, I had to go through the different class schedules to see which studios were busier and had more offerings, as more classes means more potential consumers. After compiling a list of potential buyers, I learned the basic pitch we use for first time interactions with businesses. I now have a better handle on all the pricing, installation, and promoting that goes along with getting the kombucha into a new location!

Another valuable part of this internship has been getting to know the Winston-Salem food and beverage community a little bit better. From interactions with the other farmers at the weekly markets to conversations with local vendors and businesses during deliveries, I’ve gotten to hear bits of wisdom from a multitude of sources and learn things that I’d never even thought about before. It’s given me a great look into different ways people run their respective businesses while also letting me see parts of the city I hadn’t seen prior to this internship.

I look forward to getting to do even more my last few weeks here and hope to have good news of further expansion coming soon!

Neighbor 5

Monday, July 17, 2017 8:00 am

Our development will be finished by the end of this week. This means that in a couple of days we will have a working iOS application, web POS & menu management system and a working communication with printers in stores and restaurant.

This is a core milestone because I finally have a working product and cost will be reduced since the development team was the most expensive cost pool in the past.

Obviously, with the finished product it is time to push into market. This step has been delayed since I am still negotiating with the meal plan providers for universities and have been running into some issues with the caterers. Some core players have very recently focused on developing there own mobile ordering application in house. These developments have shifted my attention slightly to alternative markets like smaller cities and communities that currently have no other mobile options and have a density of restaurants and offices in one area – downtown Winston Salem (4th street) might be an option. I am currently in the process of defining potential test cases within these spaces.

Lastly, I have started to look for potential additional team members. I will have this coming week some an interview with a interest candidate in NYC. I am further planning on looking in the Winston Salem area and maybe recruiting from Wake Forest itself.

Higher Art Galleries week #5

Friday, July 14, 2017 12:30 pm

Over the past few weeks, the Higher Art Galleries Team has been having in person and Skype meetings with mentors and experts in our field. In addition, we have been conducting customer discovery interviews.

As a result, we have pivoted slightly yet again. Our product is still art and our customer base is still the same, but the type of art we will be selling is more specific to the university itself.

Our best selling pieces are pieces that exhibit affinity to Wake Forest. Therefore, we have decided to do more of what is selling more. It is not our job to decide what our customers what. It is our job to give our customers what they want, so that is exactly what we will do.

Through our entrepreneurial studies, Brooke, Zanny, and I have learned that a simple and seamless business has the greatest probability for success. We want to streamline our platform and deliver a simple product through a simple platform that gives the customer exactly what they want.

This week we are in the midst of drafting new contracts and reworking our website. The business model is changing slightly, since we are now commissioning artists instead of simply selling their work.

In other news, we are very pleased with the results and accountability of our new printing partner in Brooklyn, NY.

Stay tuned for next week!

Week 8 at P.S. Snacks

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 12:02 am

I think that my experience as a marketing intern for P.S. Snacks for the past eight weeks was a success. Throughout these eight weeks, I conducted demos in local health food stores to build brand awareness, was the brand ambassador at events in the Washington, D.C. area, and networked with other influencers/healthy lifestyle promoters to increase our presence on social media.

The aspect that I think was the most successful was attending events in the city where we would be sampling our dough. These events were successful because usually it was geared toward marketing segments that we are targeting. Additionally, these events usually had other start-up food ventures which made it a great opportunity to network and collaborate with others. One thing that could’ve gone better was reaching out to social media influencers. Many of the influencers we reached out to did end up vocalizing their support for our brand which increased our presence on social media, however, many influencers have a media fee for sponsored posts that we were not able to provide since all of our funds are going towards production and getting into new stores. In the future, I think it would be important to find more local influencers that would guarantee a post on their social media platforms, so that we don’t waste time or money.

My biggest takeaway from this experience is that starting your own venture takes patience and that it is not a 9 to 5 job. Nikki and I were constantly responding to correspondence from other contacts around the clock since we had to be on the ball in order to move forward with P.S. Snacks. Though it can be a good thing that you are your own boss, it also increases the pressure since it is your business/product/idea and it is up to you whether it succeeds or fails. I think the career path of an entrepreneur is unique as well as all consuming since it is your labor of love and can become your life. I think all these things can be good if you are passionate about your product, message, and have clear goals set for the future.

UpDog Kombucha- Week 4

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 9:47 am

One of the major components of my job is to work at farmers’ markets each Saturday morning at which I sell and promote the product to the local community, These markets have truly become an invaluable experience in terms of learning how to deal with customers, both the satisfied and the unsatisfied, and how to successfully pitch the product, especially those who have never heard of kombucha and might be reluctant to try.

 

Each Saturday, the UpDog team wakes up early to pack up for four different markets in Charlotte, Davidson, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro. From there everyone heads out to their respective locations to unpack and set up a booth showcasing UpDog before the first customers to the markets arrive. Now that I’ve had a few markets under my belt, I’ve started to recognize and get to know the other farmers who do the same thing each week and it’s shown me the true community that exists between these vendors who see each other week in and week out.

 

After setting up, tapping the kegs, and arranging the booth to look nice, I wait for the first people of the day to come up and ask for a refill, ask if our product is for dogs, or just say “what’s UpDog?” and wait for me to get the joke. These hours spent at the markets have taught me to be patient in sales and figure out how to pitch to different audiences. Some people are drawn in by the health benefits, while others have just heard it’s a trendy thing to try and want to hear about where else kombucha may be sold. Even though the questions become repetitive, it is important to answer each potential client’s question fully and clearly because at the end of the day, a lot of people are genuinely curious about what kombucha truly is.

 

Finding new people and locations to carry the kombucha is an important part of expanding the business and these markets are a great place to find potential buyers. Each sale helps to spread the word and the brand just a little farther and each week I get at least one person who comes up because they heard about it from a friend/cousin/colleague etc.

 

While the early wake ups on the weekend can be hard, working at these markets has become one of the best parts of my internship experience. It takes the skills I’ve been working on in sales, marketing, and customer service, and combines it in a fun and meaningful way, plus the free strawberries from the vendors next door don’t hurt at all.

 

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!

 

Serving Humanity Through the Pursuit of Knowledge

Copyright © 2010 Wake Forest University ~ 1834 Wake Forest Road, Winston-Salem, NC ~ 336.758.5000