Internship Series: Venture Investors, Dan Freed

Shannon Beeman
November 18, 2013

This Monday we bring to you Dan Freed, who interned at Venture Investors, and used his knowledge of start ups-from his entrepreneurial classes-to receive the most value out of his experience. Below you can find more information from Dan Freed about his internship.

1.       What were your core responsibilities for the internship?

My internship, Venture Investors, was broken up into three different parts.

First, I worked on deal sourcing and due diligence. I would help the firm look for new opportunities to invest as well as help evaluate existing opportunities that they were currently considering. This meant anything from an analysis on a specific industry, giving my perspective as a college student (youth = money), or meeting with the founders to learn more about them and discover their goals. Secondly, I worked on a portfolio-company level with companies that Venture Investors was already invested in. This provided value to the specific company because they had scarce resources, as well as to Venture Investors because it gave them a reputation of being a VC firm that does more than just give money. I worked directly with various founders and companies on things such as competitive analysis, organizing focus groups, pricing strategy, etc. Being able to influence companies at such an early stage is very rewarding. The final aspect of my internship consisted of developing a report about the “next big things.” I researched various trends and also looked at how technology has evolved throughout history. Using everything I learned throughout the summer, I presented this report to the company as something they could use to guide investments in the future; they were particularly interested in my unique perspective as a young person/college student.

2.       Where there courses you took through the U-M or programs offered through Zell Lurie that helped you develop skills applied during your internship?

EECS 183 is what got me seriously interested in entrepreneurship because it gave me exposure to building things. I also took ES250 during the fall which furthered my interest in entrepreneurship and gave me a broader and better understanding of all the different things that must be considered when going from idea to successful company.

3.       What were the biggest contributions you made to the company during your time there?

  • Holding a focus group of 8 college students to help a portfolio company out with user feedback/perspective on a social planning app.
  • Playing a major role in doing pricing analysis/strategy for a Detroit-based tech company that was approaching its initial monetization period. They were beginning to roll out a B2B product and I played a major part in helping to decide their pricing strategy and even got to sit in on a board meeting with some big shots!
  • Producing the final report as mentioned above entitled “The Next Big Things.”

4.       What experiences/skills developed from your internship will you apply at school/in your career?

A MUCH greater understanding of the fundraising process for a startup. It takes months, sometimes even a year to bring investors on board. I also learned that people want to like who they are working with/investing in, so that is a major aspect to think about.

I developed great networking skills as well as connections that can be used for future internships or jobs. The greatest skill that I developed was pricing analysis. I did extensive research on B2B and B2C SaaS companies and how they price their products. I used this information to draw up version 1.0 of a company’s pricing strategy.

5.       Would you recommend these types of internships as a good avenue for students to pursue to augment their business education vs. those within a corporate or traditional banking firm?

YES! I got to wear multiple hats, interact with important people, and have a massive impact on a daily basis. I truly felt the things I was doing mattered, and it was all projects I am very interested in, so it didn’t even feel like work most of the time. I was the only intern, so I wasn’t just a small part of a huge corporation, everything I did mattered, and the progress I made was seen. This isn’t something you can always get at a banking firm/traditional corporate setting.

6.       What is your advice of how to get the most out of the internship?

Ask questions, meet people and be open to doing things you have never done before. As an intern you aren’t expected to know how to do everything, so it is a great time to try different things that you may like, or may be extremely good at once you gain the knowledge. Work somewhere where you are genuinely interested in what they are doing; it makes everything a lot more fun and valuable.