Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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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!

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.

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.

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.

WeWork Week 1

Monday, June 5, 2017 4:22 pm

This past week I moved up to New York to begin my summer internship at WeWork. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the company, WeWork is a startup based out of New York that is changing the way businesses rent and utilize office space. WeWork builds communities among their diverse range of clients who all work collaboratively and become members of a private entrepreneurial network. Over the last 7 years since the companies inception, WeWork has grown exponentially — and are now valued at nearly $17 billion dollars and poised to go public within the year. Its an incredibly interesting time to join the team here in Manhattan and learn about the post-startup stages of a startup company. Attached below is a picture of my office — it’s truly like nothing I’ve ever seen before and an awesome place to work.

On the first day during intern orientation WeWork founder Miguel McKelvy talked to us about all the exciting things taking place throughout the company right now, as the business continues to expand into new areas and position itself as a market leader. One area in which the company is seeing a lot of success is in the enterprise sales division. While WeWork initially started out focused on providing a place for small entrepreneurial startups to rent a desk or two and work collaboratively in an entrepreneurially focused community atmosphere; the space (and cost) efficient model has become appealing to large enterprises as well. Now entire floors and even buildings owned by WeWork are being rented out by all types of Fortune 500 businesses.

This is the exciting area where I will be doing the majority of my work this summer. I have joined the enterprise growth team and have been tasked with handling responsibilities ranging from building proposals for potential customers, to interacting directly with customers on deals, to building business cases as well as models to determine the value of of potential deals. Over the rest of the summer I hope to develop a diverse set of new skills such as managing databases in SQL, learning how to utilize salesforce, and work on my financial modeling skills. Also, the incoming intern class is required to sit in on a weekly programming series of Q&A sessions with entrepreneurs and ultimately tasked with pitching our own new business ideas to WeWork at the summation of our internship.

I couldn’t be more excited for all that this summer is going to bring. New York City has been absolutely incredible and exciting to explore (albeit expensive). I’m looking forward to sharing all of my experiences through this platform over the course of the summer and could not be more grateful for this opportunity.

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