Experiencing Entrepreneurship award winners share how their experiences have impacted them.

Nathan Davies (History & Politics, 2018)

2020-21 winner

It has honestly been a transformative summer, which has focused my desire to pursue a career in start-ups (rather than continue with my other passion for history in academia), and expanded both my horizons and network.

While I had hoped to complete two internships, at Treecard in London and CaseText in San Francisco, the pandemic meant that only the former was possible. However, I look forward to travelling to the U.S next summer, as CaseText extended their offer to apply to 2022. Throwing myself into Treecard for three months, and continuing to work in a part-time capacity since, has been eye-opening.

Treecard is a fin-tech startup, with a wooden spending card which plants trees as you spend. Given my interest in social-impact investing, it was brilliant to be able to work at a company which shares my values. This summer was a particularly exciting time to work for them, given that they were in the process of launching their first product in the U.S. I was able to take on a lot of responsibility. My tasks originally included product research and competitive analysis, quickly learning a lot about the fin-tech landscape in both Europe and North America. However, I was then entrusted with leading the recruitment and organisation of a whole team of interns, to found the customer care team, working closely with colleagues who had previously worked at Mastercard and Paypal. My other roles included mood-boarding a future line of accessories on Figma, contacting influencers for partnerships, and selecting graphic designers to hire part-time. The relatively small team-size, meant that I got a broad range of experiences across product, operations, and marketing. In my final few weeks, I organised a transatlantic company retreat and co-wrote a grant pitch for £100,000.

After a year of working remotely, it was fantastic to be in the office in a coworking space in central London. This not only meant I spent all day working alongside the co-founders, including a former Thiel Fellow, but I relished the chance to strike up conversations with other people working in the space. I made friends with two former Cambridge MBAs, someone working in energy insurance, and (serendipitously) bumped into an instagram influencer that I had shared a coffee with working in another WeWork in Paris last year. I also now consider a founder of a rapidly growing AI startup a mentor and a close personal friend, and I have been advising him about how to reach out to academics at oxbridge using a lot of GPU computing. My conversations helped me reflect, not only on my own career aspirations, but also on the potential ways that I could develop my own legal-ed-tech startup (legislait) that I have been working on.

Ultimately, the award has also allowed me to strengthen my applications for US graduate study, where I hope to study Learning Sciences and Technologies at U.Penn, and take courses from Wharton. To this end, I’m also grateful for the support of the Trinity Hall Entrepeneurs Network more broadly, for putting me in contact with former alumni to discuss my ideas and aspirations with, these conversations have proved just as helpful as the financial support I received.

Kishen Joshi (Natural Sciences, 2019)

2020-21 winner

The Experiencing Entrepreneurship Award provided me with the funds to undertake an unpaid internship at Animal Alternative Technologies (AAT).

AAT is a start-up positioned in the Cultured Meat Industry and is currently working on the development of a complete, end-to-end, scalable system for the large-scale production of Cultured Meat, which presents the main barrier to its widespread introduction into supply chains.

As an intern here I had the opportunity to observe and get involved with some of the operations associated with the running of a start-up. One of the areas I was involved in was writing grant applications to help secure funds to facilitate the R&D activities of the company. (As an update on the success of these applications: nearly all were accepted into the next round and Infoshare recently awarded AAT €7000.) I found this a very useful experience as it helped me learn how to navigate some of the channels, both private and public, for start-up funding which will undoubtedly help me in my future studies and activities.

In addition to this I looked into the global trademarking system, WIPO, and the procedure by which one could register a trademark through them, both at the level of individual countries and internationally. I found it interesting to see how the systems for protection of IP and Trademarks were run and gained a greater appreciation of just how important these systems are for protecting the property of a company.

As well as working on the business operations side of the company I was involved in research and carried out an analysis of scientific literature to investigate new laboratory techniques that could be incorporated into our systems. I found this incredibly interesting and had the opportunity to learn about cutting edge technologies in the field and gained an appreciation of how the complex interplay between different elements in our production pathway could affect the outcomes. It was also a very useful exercise for me academically as it helped me critically appraise and analyse scientific literature, a skill which will undoubtedly be of use in my studies.

I also had the opportunity to develop pitch materials and attended meetings with partners from start-up accelerator programmes. I found it incredibly interesting to see the kind of programmes associated with helping start-ups grow and how they could provide a platform for companies such as AAT to expand their reach and help them find strategically significant partners.

The Experiencing Entrepreneurship Award allowed me to take this position at the company and provided funds for my accommodation and expenses for the duration of my internship. I am very grateful to the Office for approving my application and the skills I learned during my term at AAT will be incredibly useful for my academic studies and have given me a more informed picture of the timelines and operations associated with the setting up and development of a start-up.