This summer I am working at a startup called Polariis, an online career advisory platform that helps find mentors for young business professionals. One only has to see the acquisition of Linkedin by Microsoft to see the market demand for networking applications. I report directly to the CEO who himself is serving as a mentor for me in the spirit of our company mission. An added benefit to this internship is that it is located at 1871, which is the largest entrepreneurship incubator in America. This also gives me the opportunity to interact and network with other startup founders.
My work has given me diverse and broad exposure to the interesting and the mundane tasks associated with a startup. I am very hands on with different activities in the company including cold calling potential clients (both mentors and mentees), developing the financial model, and creating extensive spreadsheets to create and organize our database of clients.
My most memorable experience so far has been meeting with venture capitalists (VCs) to secure additional funding. While I played a passive role in these meetings, I learned a lot from them:
- Be Prepared: It is important to be thoroughly prepared for any VC meeting. This includes predicting what types of questions a VC will ask you. Having a clear and simple description of revenue model, backing up any assumptions behind your projections, and having concise answers to any questions.
- Be Energized: While Shark Tank makes VC meetings look like easy, entertaining short dialogues, in reality they can last up to two hours. My first VC meeting lasted just under an hour. This should not be too surprising because we are asking people to invest into an idea they know very little about.
- Be Passionate: While it is easy for people of a startup to have clear and driven view of their startup, the VC must also feel that passion and excitement.
Written by L.J. Maloney, BC Class of 2018