At the Dingman Center, we work with many students who want to start their own business. We also work with students who don’t yet have an idea to pursue. For both groups, we encourage them to spend a summer interning in startup land. To jumpstart students’ startup careers, the Center offers two fellowship programs. Dingman Center Angel and Board of Advisors member, Kathryn Stewart, wanted more students to gain the valuable experience of working a venture capital firms and startups so she made a generous gift to form the Kathryn Stewart Fellowship Program. To be selected as a Stewart Fellow, students must secure a summer internship with a VC or angel-funded startup. Once selected, Stewart Fellows are granted a $5,000 stipend to supplement the summer salary offered through their internship.
When the program was launched last winter, student interest sky rocketed. However, many realized how hard it can be to find the right startup or VC to intern. This was not the case for Daniel Stern. Daniel has worked on a few business ideas as a Terp. He’s participated in the Center’s Fearless Founders accelerator program. This summer, he wanted the valuable experience of working at a tech incubator. Through an alumnus from his high school, Daniel learned about the Grand Central Tech Incubator. Pursuing the incubator’s summer internship program would allow Daniel to gain exposure to more than one startup and he jumped at the chance to apply to both Grand Central Tech Incubator and the Stewart Fellows.
Tell us about Grand Central Tech Incubator. What types of startups are there?
DS: Grand Central Tech is really unique in that they offer free rent and office space to startups without asking for equity. They have startups apply to be in their program for a whole year, and after the year is up, most of the startups “graduate” to the upper floor of their building where they continue to operate and remain part of the GCT community. The whole idea is to create the most vibrant tech and entrepreneurial hub in New York City. There are startups working on all different challenges, from 3D printing and Bitcoin solutions to creating unique sports betting and online marketing platforms.
How many and which startups are you working with?
DS: I’m splitting my time working for two startups currently: LiquidText and Barebands. LiquidText helps users better understand, read and make connections with online content and analyzes how these people interact with this online content. Barebands is a lightweight watch for fitness fanatics, looking to take their product into retail. I will most likely spend end up all of my time working for LiquidText.
Take us through your day (or week) at your internship?
DS: So far I’ve mostly been through orientation, which consisted of visiting the offices of Google, Microsoft, and General Assembly to learn about design thinking and the processes that go into building a startup. Currently my day consists of figuring out the best route to get Barebands into retail, learning from people at other startups in the co-working space, and doing market and user research for LiquidText at night.
What projects are you most looking forward to working on this summer?
DS: I’m looking forward to building business partnerships and helping decide what features to launch with for LiquidText, and also helping Barebands get their foot in the door with retail stores.
Why did you want to intern at an incubator rather than a startup?
DS: I wanted to intern at an incubator because I get to work with the best of the best entrepreneurs all under one roof while still getting the experience of working at one of their startups. Being part of this incubator allows me to be part of a large entrepreneurial community while still getting experience at a startup.
What do you hope to gain from a summer spent in NYC?
I hope to learn from experienced startup veterans how to start and grow a business and gain the skills necessary to do so myself. I also hope to build relationships and meet some awesome people along the way.
Have you had any cool startup/networking experiences since you’ve been in NYC?
DS: I haven’t had any crazy stories yet, but there are some impressive people working in GCT (the co-founder of Shapeways, the founder of Gilt, the founder of General Assembly, multiple ex Google executives) who I hope to get to meet and build relationships with as the summer goes on.
What else are you working on this summer?
DS: On the side, I started my own Ecommerce website with a friend from UMD called East Coast Cornhole (www.eccornhole.com). While it has yet to take off, running my own business is an awesome learning experience, and has forced me to learn extensively about internet and content marketing, as well as SEO and the patience it takes to grow a business from absolutely nothing.
Daniel Stern is finance major and a junior at the University of Maryland. He’s from Cheshire, CT, and aspires to run his own startup in the near future. He’s passionate about tackling big problems and changing the way we view the world. During his time at UMD, Daniel has participated in the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders accelerator and competed in a Pitch Dingman Competition with his startup idea, Globoclub Fitness. In July 2015, Dan and a fellow student launched the e-commerce site, East Coast Cornhole (eccornhole.com), to sell high quality Cornhole Sets and Boards.