Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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EncepHeal Therapeutic’s Science Meeting Example

Sunday, August 27, 2017 7:04 pm

My most recent post illustrated an example of one of our weekly business meetings. This post will shed light on what might be covered in one of our weekly scientific meetings. These meetings are centered around presentations on a scientific paper that’s based on some particular topic that we cover over a few meetings. For example, since our compounds are analogues of Provigil (modafinil), we would like to know what clinical trials have been carried out for indications other than sleep disorders and cocaine addiction. A presentation might be on a clinical trial that uses Modafinil for the treatment of cognitive deficits associated with depression. This broadens our knowledge on potential target populations when we expand the market for our drug.

These presentations on alternate indications of our drug have served to be extremely useful, given our most recent task in having to develop a commercial development plan. This plan serves to inform about the current stage occurring in the drug development phase, as well as what is to follow. The current stage 1 involves the screening of compounds based on the company’s primary focus, which is for the treatment of cocaine addiction. The plan also briefly describes what future IND-enabling work will be conducted, which is necessary prior to moving the compound(s) onto clinical trials. Also included in this document are alternative indications for the lead compound. The chief science officer, chief research officer, and myself worked on this document for the past week. We had to compose convincing arguments for why we believe our lead compound can be used to target alternative indications, such as depression, cognition, and ADHD. The information we used to base our arguments off of was extracted from the presentations we’ve had over the past couple of months. Using ADHD as one example: we need to be able to judge which animal model for ADHD is the best and most feasible one to use, why we think our compound would show positive results, and how this might compare and contrast with current approved medications.

I meant to submit this post earlier, but due to the delay I’m pleased to announce that our commercial development plan has recently been approved by the NIH (National Institute of Heath)! This means that the experiments we proposed for future work will (most likely) be sufficient enough to support the indications we believe our compounds can be used for. This is very exciting for future investors because if our lead compound shows promising initial non-clinical results, then we can move forward with strong evidence for expanding the market for our drug. Very exciting!

Although I only have one more post to share, this is not the end of my experience. I’m fortunate to have been asked to continue interning for the company throughout the spring of 2018. This is a very exciting time because the company is growing at a much more rapid pace than when I had initially started working. I’ll be able to take on different projects that will help progress the next stage of drug developement. Stay tuned!

Excitement for the Road to Come

Thursday, August 24, 2017 7:04 pm

This summer has flown by as usual. I am proud of the work I have accomplished and am thankful for the many lessons learned, but the journey never stops. In ways, being back at Wake is easier for me to run my startups. Generally speaking, I am within closer proximity to my partners and advisors, but on the flip side I have less time on my hands. As I look forward this semester, I am anxiously waiting our patent response, excited about a new partnership, and will continue research and development of my most ambitious project to date. I’d like to thank the Entrepreneurship department for this fellowship and the constant support and mentorship they provide. This is certainly not the end of my entrepreneurial journey, but thanks for stopping by over the course of this summer.

RLM Associates Week 8

Thursday, August 24, 2017 12:09 am

This was my final week at RLM for the summer. Leaving the company was bittersweet as everyone I worked with was not only talented but supportive in all ways when it came to my learning and growth. The experience was better than what I could have imagined and I learned more than I had ever expected. Right from the beginning I was given more responsibility than I was expecting, and I was expected to dive right in. This made me nervous the first few days but it forced me to adjust quickly and efficiently, this alone was something I’m grateful for getting experience with. Every new project was addressed in this same fashion and being thrown into the middle of each company’s strategy over and over again allowed me to gain confidence each time. This unexpected additional responsibility also helped me to learn a number of skills in different areas. It also helped teach me how to balance more than one project at a time while still giving each the needed amount of attention.

In addition to all of this, working with so many companies that specialized in different areas allowed me to experience the ways in which each chose to start and build their new companies. More importantly, I was able to see first hand how a software company’s path differs from an author’s path and so on. This differentiation was across the board, from marketing to funding. I was also able to compare how the strategies of these start-up companies compare in a more general sense to long-established companies.

This internship allowed me to expand my knowledge in a number of areas while doing real world work. Working directly with both clients and the CEO of a company was something I wasn’t expecting. It did however, teach me a great deal more than I was expecting as well. I am incredibly thankful for everyone who assisted in making this internship not only an option but an incredible experience.

Cultivating Culture

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 7:22 pm

In thinking about the “cultures” of the ventures I seek to develop, there is no simple definition, rather, the overall concept of evolution. I am reenergized through speaking to those who have a similar eye for innovation, and I highly value the pursuit of excellence, even when it means realizing I don’t have all of the answers myself. To that end, decisions are made based on consultation with my advisors or industry experts. While the power of the “gut feeling” should never be marginalized, I also find it extremely important to make informed decisions based on the best resources I have available. At the end of the day, I’m, along with my respective partners, are responsible for the direction of my companies, but I make these choices with careful consideration and never without the advice of those I am fortunate enough to have helping me along the way.

Teamwork is very important to me as a founder, but I also admit that each of my partners have unique skill sets and as such it would be trivial to insist that we always both contribute to every task. Since we share a similar vision, it’s easy to work independently to some extent without straying from our agreed objectives. The fact that I don’t share a physical workspace, or even live in the same state, makes some of our more collaborative tasks challenging and we have to work to make sure it isn’t an obstacle in getting things done the way we want them. I also make sure to review our progress as a team, so that we can decide how we need to adjust our respective tasks and determine who would be best suited for new ones. This affects the work environment because it places a great deal of responsibility on each of us- we certainly don’t want to let one another down and always strive to deliver more than expected.

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!

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