One of my favorite things about going to school at Smith is the ability that we have to learn and grow outside of the classroom in a variety of ways. Don’t get me wrong, the classroom is a great learning environment. But in a job market where employers are constantly looking for “real life” experience, it’s necessary to have tangible application stories to tell. But I was also interested in seeing what it looked like under the hood of a startup. What are the building blocks? What is the mindset required? What are the challenges that they face every day?
That is why I took the Venture Practicum for my Smith Experience. Venture Practicum connects MBAs with startups sourced through the Dingman Center. The course was the perfect combination for me to combine experience in marketing with exposure to an early stage venture. My team paired with DC tech startup Homesnap, which has an app that allows you to take a picture of any home to find out all about it. The project for the semester was to help drive downloads of the app at a make-or-break inflection point in their business. We did this by going to South by Southwest to promote the app (and winning awards in the process), launching new versions of the app and preparing for a round of fundraising.
We worked hand in hand with the Homesnap team to develop digital ad campaigns, targeting strategies and analyze their effectiveness in driving downloads. It was a great way to learn about a thriving career area, digital marketing. At the same time we got an insider perspective on why the Homesnap team is so successful: the ability to think on the fly, experiment, and be adaptable are all critical elements to their success. What a great way to learn about “real life”!
Shurid Sen is a 2014 Full-Time MBA Candidate at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. In addition to participating in the inaugural Venture Practicum program, Shurid is the 2013-2014 President of the Smith Entrepreneur’s Club as well as a regional finalist in the 2013 Venture Capital Investment Competition.