Even though it is a little late, I feel that spending one week at Wharton allows me to put things in better perspective, and provide a review which might be more useful, specially for other pre-MBA interns.
Anything that could go wrong will. Murphy's timeless law is particularly true in India where chaos seems to be the norm rather than the exception: power cuts, traffic jams, pollution, corruption, you name it – are present in copious measures. It is remarkable that our country has managed to hold its act together. And I feel that this achievement - and the reason why I hold India in awe - is due to the entrepreneurial spirit and venturesome outlook which are so deep-rooted in our country. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of these attributes and hence, started searching for a summer internship just prior to my MBA. Enter Lightbox.
Lightbox – an India-focused VC firm – provided me with the perfect settings to not just understand these attributes, but also gain valuable learnings for my MBA and post-MBA life. But to explain their impact, first a bit of background: I have an engineering background and have worked in oil and gas operations for 7 years in international settings – sufficient to have lost touch with India. Further, things like balance sheets, market sizing, GMV, CAC, deal multiples, etc. were Greek to me.
The first thing which comes to my mind about this internship is – Couchez moins bete chaque soir (Sleep a bit more intelligent every night). It felt like my business education had already begun figuring out the cost of capital for a fintech startup, mapping Blue Apron’s IPO against its comps, or drafting a case study for Furlenco. Having now spent a week at Wharton, I could vouch for how invaluable these skills are.
Which brings me to my second and perhaps the most important point – people.
I found the team at Lightbox to be very friendly and helpful. I feel that I learnt something from everyone: be it Prashant and Sandeep’s intelligent insights, Siddharth’s humorous ways (and Bhavana’s funnier rebuttals), Khushnum’s and Garima’s scheduling acumen, Ronak’s superpowers with Microsoft, Anshul’s restaurant recommendations, Harish’s poker face and financial prowess, Krishna’s fast-as-lightning analysis and insanely-sharp-wits, or Tina’s ability-to-articulate-anything. Loved the coffee chats and the post-6 PM humor sessions. Additionally, a large part of the team has been in the US and interacting with them gave me a first sense of what the US culture is like. This is proving to be quite helpful in integrating at Wharton. Going beyond the internal team, I also met a lot of entrepreneurs which gave me a better understanding of the attributes that I was seeking in the first place.
All-in-all, the internship was largely illuminating and fun. However, I did feel that the fast-paced and dynamic nature of work at Lightbox could have been better addressed by proceeding in a more structured fashion. Perhaps, the silver lining is that it teaches one to prioritize efficiently, which is must-have skill for a B-school. To conclude, while nothing is perfect, Lightbox provided me with an amazing learning experience which was as human as it was professional. I was overwhelmed with the chaos in Mumbai, and even fell sick a couple of times. But the team at Lightbox helped me smoothen the sail. And they have done that not just for me, but for everyone on the team and for all of their portfolio companies. Had Murphy known, he could have revised to Anything that could go wrong will, unless you are at Lightbox.
June – August 2017
What are you doing now?
Interning at Lightbox! :)
What is venture capital about according to you?
Weaving dreams into reality, and creating the future.
How do you see technology changing India in the next 10 years?
This is an exciting time to be in India. A lot of people will switch to digital, which will hopefully reduce corruption. Also, I feel that healthcare will leapfrog in India with mass-adoption of personalized care techniques. Finally, the energy mix of India would change drastically from coal to include renewable sources, and this would be reflected in the transportation sector as well.
What’s the best insider tip you would give to a new intern?
Do seek for what the other person might be interested in, and be proactive in trying to align interests.
What’s the wisest thing anyone has ever said to you?
From my father: Learning never stops.