The Lang Center’s Summer Fellowship Program provides salary supplements to support rising second-year students who want to gain experience working at early-stage ventures. The program allows students to gain valuable firsthand exposure to daily life inside a startup. This year, the Center also launched a VC Fellowship pilot program for students who have obtained internships at a venture capital firm.
We asked each of this year's Fellowship recipients to share what they are doing, along with lessons learned thus far.
Bruno Nogueira Dorigo ’20: WeissBeerger
Bruno is a Product Manager at WeissBeerger, the leading Internet of Things & Big Data solution for the hospitality industry. He is helping WeissBeerger provide bar and restaurant owners with the business data and insights they need to increase their sales and margins. Bruno will be responsible for product design and improvement, interacting directly with clients and developers.
What have you learned? “Working in the fast-paced startup environment is one of the most rewarding experiences I had in business school so far. It is an excellent opportunity to learn from bright and visionary entrepreneurs that are innovating to create the business solutions of the future.”
Michael Rodio ’20, Dylan Berkenfeld ’20, Lina Santos ’20: FlexIt
Dylan, Michael, and Lina are working at FlexIt, the newly launched app that offers convenient, pay-as-you-go access to hundreds of fitness clubs across the country. FlexIt was founded by Austin Cohen ’16.
Michael is focusing on product design, product development, and marketing at FlexIt. He is managing the website redesign and developing brand identity, as well as helping the company build out its PR outreach strategy, launch media campaigns, and expand its partner gym network.
What have you learned? “The most challenging aspects of startup life are also the best aspects. Nobody will tell you exactly what to do, you’ll be solving problems from scratch, and there is no closing bell. But by intentionally charting your course of action every day—and updating it by the minute—you not only help steer the company forward but also come to understand every moving part of the business.”
Dylan is focusing on product development and growth marketing. He is working on an array of new features for the app, including the development of an in-app wallet, a dynamic pricing schema, and a referral plan. He will also be supporting user acquisition strategy.
What have you learned? “Working at a startup is both exhilarating and challenging. You must be a jack of all trades and wear as many hats as you can on a weekly, daily and even hourly basis. The key is understanding how to prioritize responsibilities given the autonomy in most startup settings–managing up is not only helpful but oftentimes necessary.”
Lina is focusing on partnerships at FlexIt. She is helping the company build corporate, hotel, and strategic brand partnerships to increase the number of users and gain brand exposure.
What have you learned? “My experience at FlexIt has highlighted the importance of bootstrapping in very early-stage startups, the benefits of being able to leverage the teams’ connections, and the reality of having to do a little bit of everything with the available resources.”
Trevor Lee ’20: Street Smarts VR
Trevor is working for Street Smarts VR helping to expand their Virtual Reality training solutions into the Law Enforcement and Military segments. Street Smarts VR was founded by Oliver Noteware ’18. Trevor is working on business development, streamlining hardware operations, strategy and product development.
What have you learned? “I have been able to get a firsthand view of a company building both hardware and software which has been incredibly helpful when thinking about my own path as an entrepreneur.“
Franklin Yao ’20: Harlem Candle Company
Franklin is developing a digital marketing strategy for the Harlem Candle Company, which creates unique, handcrafted candles inspired by the culture and history of Harlem. Working with the CEO, he is building a comprehensive customer acquisition plan, identifying their ideal online customer segments, optimizing their messaging and conversion funnels, and executing new digital advertising campaigns to grow online sales.
What have you learned? "This experience has shown me how, at an early stage startup, seemingly small and mundane decisions can, via butterfly effect, lead to unpredictable and far-reaching effects."
Clare Plunkett ’20: Glow Concept
Clare is interning at Glow Concept, a color cosmetics company. Throughout the Summer, she will work with the Finance and Marketing departments, analyzing customer data to provide product recommendations that enhance profitability. She’ll also work to standardize and streamline distribution processes in advance of a brand launch in a national retailer.
What have you learned? “I’m learning that working at a startup requires both high-level, strategic initiative and rigorous attention to detail, which often compete with one another for a small enterprise’s time and focus.”
William Baek ’20: MyMusicTaste
William is working as an IR/Strategy intern at MyMusicTaste, a big data-based concert promotion platform incorporated in Seoul, South Korea. Working closely with the CEO and the CTO, who is his elder brother, he secured a $5mm government loan from the government. He also worked closely with Business Development to establish corporate strategies and new business ideas to lay the groundwork for pending Series D this fall and IPO next year.
What have you learned? “It was a great experience for me because the startup is pretty late stage so I could readily apply finance/strategy skills I acquired during my MBA. At the same time, since my brother is a co-founder, people trusted me with sharing their true perspectives on their experience at the company.”
Christopher Harper ’20: Red Sea Ventures
Chris is spending the summer at Red Sea Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital fund that invests in tech-enabled startups building next-generation experiences for consumers and workers. As an MBA Associate, Chris works with the investment team taking pitch meetings with founders, performing due diligence on potential investments, and conducting research into emerging markets and opportunities aligned with Red Sea’s core theses.
What have you learned? “I’m fortunate to work alongside three top New York investors with a strong track record and a portfolio of companies and founders who speak for themselves. Working on a small team means that I contribute at each stage of the investment funnel from first pitch meetings with founders to in-depth diligence and market analysis. Red Sea is sector-agnostic but thesis-driven. The result is unpredictable days with wide-ranging businesses and problems up for discussion. Uncovering the models and approaches that will define and transform categories is at the core of Red Sea’s mission.”
Benjamin Guzik ’20: Bowery Capital
Ben is an MBA Summer Associate at Bowery Capital. Bowery Capital is an early-stage VC focused exclusively on founders looking to modernize business through technology. Ben is focused on sourcing, due diligence, and execution components of venture capital, as well as supporting Bowery's acceleration team help portfolio companies.
What have you learned? "The summer experience has been extremely helpful in showing me how venture capital firms function. Through hands-on experience, I've gotten to learn about everything from sourcing, due diligence, execution, portfolio management, and fund administration."
Gabriel Littman ’20: Interplay Ventures
Gabe Littman is a Summer Associate at Interplay Ventures, a leading New York-based venture capital fund and foundry. The fund is industry agnostic, specializing in Late Seed to Series B investments. Gabe focuses on sourcing and evaluating new deals, supporting due diligence, working with existing portfolio companies, and helping with fundraising.
What have you learned? “When I first started at CBS, I knew I wanted to work in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity. After spending my first year interning at a pre-seed startup in New York, I realized that I wanted more exposure to the local start-up scene. Working at Interplay has given me an amazing opportunity to view the start-up world through an investor’s eye, to analyze hundreds of businesses, and to meet leading entrepreneurs here in New York City.”