The End of a Great Summer

Seems like just yesterday I was starting my internship . . .

Last Day of Work Shenanigans

Last Day of Work Shenanigans

As a media relations intern, I performed a wide variety of responsibilities. My primary tasks included researching clean energy and climate policy, writing blogs, creating and building targeted media lists, and drafting press releases. Some tasks that came up occasionally were researching media coverage and reporter beats and producing social media content and plans.

My biggest project of the summer was researching the climate and clean energy policies for all 50 states to make an interactive map that helps explain the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Additionally, during the comment period for the plan, I authored weekly blogs posts for Earthjustice’s Carbon Nation blog to inform the public why the EPA’s plan is not ambitious enough. Two other noteworthy things I accomplished this summer were drafting an op-ed that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner and starting a weeklong dialogue with a film producer, who was interested in Earthjustice’s dam removal work.

My internship at Earthjustice provided me with a great opportunity to network with and learn from leaders in the environmental field. For instance, I worked on my main project with the Vice President of Litigation for Climate and Energy and was a part of many brainstorms with the Vice President of Communications and the Directors of Marketing.

My internship also had a huge impact on my career plans and goals. Being able to interact with the legal team and law clerks helped me realize that law school, which I’m planning to attend, is really the right career path for me. The attorneys all exemplified what it takes to be impactful litigators and were very passionate about protecting the environment.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better internship experience. Earthjustice is a great organization that is a true leader in the environmental field and is continuing to get better and better. Everyone was extremely welcoming, and I truly felt like part of the team during my time there.

Last but not least, I had a great time with the Bay Area SIP program this summer. Thank you to everyone that helped make it possible! SIP gave me the opportunity to make many new Duke friends (also some non-Duke friends via mutual friendships) and go to fun events like the SF Giants game. Meeting leaders in the tech field was also quite the experience. In particular, I enjoyed the pitches at Google Ventures and hanging out with Matt.

Giants Game

Giants Game


Stylehand End of Summer Update

Hey everyone,

First I want to thank everyone involved in putting together the SIP. This has been a great way to keep in touch with friends in similar situations and learn about different businesses. Thanks!

My journey with Stylehand has been an extremely great learning experience for me. As I’ve said before, it’s so important to have a great team with a startup, and while I had lots of friends and family contribute in significant ways to our success, I haven’t yet found a “true” co-founder. There were a couple good candidates that didn’t work out, and other people who preferred to contribute in smaller portions. I think that’s definitely hurt our growth, as it’s so hard to build a company with no one else dedicated long-term and fighting in the trenches with you. I’ll still continue working on Stylehand, but the next major step, before I spend much time developing, is to build a team.

Over the last month or two, I’ve actually been working on another idea, an iPhone game called Wick It! It’s an incredibly simple game I thought of during a plane ride. It takes three seconds to learn, and I think it’s both fun and challenging. It’s been a great experience because I’ve worked with one of my friends, and together we’ve stayed hungry and built the game out together. Working with him has definitely kept me motivated and excited to get the game out there and start getting feedback. Also, I think the basic value proposition of Stylehand is extremely complicated and hard to explain, and with Wick It, we’ve designed it so it’s extremely simple and self-explanatory. We’re almost done with the initial version and should have it on the App Store within 3 weeks.

Overall, it’s been a fun summer and great getting to know everyone! Cheers!

Summer Lovin’

Summer lovin’, had me a blast
Summer lovin’, happened so fast

Who knew that Olivia Newton-John could not only describe her relationship but also the sentiment of so many entrepreneurs and summer interns? Like many of you, we are struggling to understand where the summer went but thankfully we have a lot more than a fling of a relationship to show for it.

This summer we:

  • Created three amazing products
  • Added 15 venues as customers
  • Powered hours of fun music
  • Presented at countless investor, showcase and other sessions
  • Began the due diligence process for a proper round of funding
  • Negotiated contracts with major music labels
  • Formed a high functioning, very friendly team

As I look at that list it is hard to pinpoint which one I am most proud of but I do have to focus a bit on the strength of our team. It’s been said many times so I won’t belabor it here but at the end of the day the most important asset you have is the people in your company and, taking it one step further, the bonds they have made. People alone are very valuable but when they create a bond like I have seen our team do the real value starts to emerge. This is true not only with our core team but also with our customers, advisers, friends and family. All of those stakeholders have really come together this summer to help make CrowdTunes something that has exceeded my vision for it even as of three months ago. Thank you to our team, our mentors and our fans for helping to create CrowdTunes.

We are going to continue down our current path with a resolute focus on providing amazing value to our customers. This means continuing to refine our physical product, testing new sales strategies and working hard to increase patron engagement. The learning’s from the summer – and there are many! – will help us think smarter as we proceed and have propelled us down the path of really proving the business model to ourselves, our potential investors and our customers. Duke SIP made it possible for us to continue with our company and we would likely not be here without the support we received over the summer.

Brandon Magsamen, CrowdTunes CEO

Summer in Review

During the course of my summer internship, I’ve learned quite a bit about the role of a product manager. While there is variability in the position across startups, some themes are common: (1) Oversee product concept through implementation (2) No “right” answer (3) Close contact with members across the organization.

1.  Oversee product concept through implementation

While working at a financial startup this summer, I helped develop new product launches and design a referral program. In this role, I did initial research with the firm leadership to develop a product concept, create mockups, and manage the development of the various products from engineering development through to quality assurance. 

2. No “right” answer

A key difference in a product management role is that there isn’t a right and wrong answer. Often, the role involves a lot of ambiguity. User testing is critical, but often in the initial concept stage, the product manager listens to a lot of individual opinions and makes a decision without the ability to talk with customers.

3. Close contact with members across the organization 

From the co-founders who provide context for new product initiatives to enginners who help with development, the role of a product manager requires constant interactions with members across an organization. I worked with designers to create mockups of websites, engineers to develop, the marketing team to help with promotion, and operations to ensure the employees working with the customers were up to date on the latest changes.

My product management internship gave me great insight into the culture and work style of a full time product manager. I look forward to recruiting for full time product management opportunities this upcoming year!



Mid-Summer Update from Med3D

Greetings from the Med3D team in the Duke Startup Challenge. For those of you unfamiliar with our project, we are in the process of commercializing a technology used to evaluate and improve breast imaging systems. We are having a great summer so far and are focusing our efforts on a variety of avenues. These include exploring funding opportunities through grants and investors, continuing to improve our product through research and development, and developing relationships with our future customers.

We are making great progress towards our goal and are learning a lot along the way! The next few months will be critical for us as we get feedback from our potential customers and evolve the product to fit their needs.

We are looking forward to presenting at the Startup Challenge Finale!


July Reflections

Time is flying by this summer at MaxPoint Interactive. Each day I learn something new as I dive deeper and gain more experience in the digital advertising world. While going into the summer I had strong interests in business, innovation, marketing, technology, and advertising as well as the creativity and problem-solving skills to apply to these areas, I now find myself armed with quantifiable skills gradually absorbed over the past 8 weeks that give me a more grounded view of the industry – and every day I am struck by how much I am loving it!

MaxPoint’s account managers (AMs) work at the heart of the digital advertising campaigns that the company delivers, and, as an account management intern, I am right in the middle of this activity. I work with the AMs on my team to help set up campaigns, negotiate proposals with clients, develop audience targeting strategies, monitor campaign performance, and compile campaign insights to apply learnings towards future campaigns. While I don’t run my own campaigns or directly interact with clients, I am involved in every piece of the puzzle throughout the campaign process and am learning more every day about how MaxPoint provides smart, targeted, and innovative online advertising. My main goal for the summer was to absorb as much as possible, and I definitely feel that I am succeeding. In addition to my daily activities helping to monitor and manage campaigns, I have also been able to take on several individual projects to help streamline the overall account management process.

Beyond everything I’ve learned and grown to understand throughout my time with MaxPoint thus far, what has probably struck me the most about the company is its atmosphere. Just walking around our (brand new!) office you can truly appreciate the volume of what can be accomplished when you put together a group of fun-loving and creative yet extremely intelligent people with a common goal. Though you may never be sure when someone will whiz by on a scooter or when you’ll need to defend yourself against a nerf gun attack, there is no doubt that MaxPoint is doing big things, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it!

Thanks for reading,


Mid-Summer Update


We hope everyone has been enjoying their summers. Rangeland Solutions has been hard at work over the past few months and it has been a great experience. For this summer we had two primary goals: First, to start a fundraising campaign and raise enough money to enroll 30 more customers and launch two more projects, on top of our pilot, this coming fall. To raise the funds, Rangeland has been networking with potential donors and soliciting donations from multiple sources. Most notably, we have recently submitted a grant application to USAID and we will officially be launching a campaign on Indiegogo in mid-August. I can say that fundraising for a nonprofit is a lot of work, writing up grants, talking with donors and generating lots of informational material and content. However, we are progressing well and we hope our Indiegogo campaign is successful.

Our second goal is to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation Program, so we can measure and assess the social, economic and environmental impacts of our work. Establishing the program entails collecting baseline data from the pastoralists (those who raise livestock) in the region we work, particularly from those who are enrolling in our program in the fall. To collect this baseline information we added a field researcher, Thomas Turere, to our team. Thomas is currently in the process of developing our M&E protocol and methodology, specifically he is writing the questionnaires for the interviews. In the next two weeks Thomas will begin to administer the questionnaires and collect data through interviews. We hope to collect information from at least 60 household, and complete the study by the end of August.

We have been very pleased with how this summer has progressed. We appear to be on target to accomplish our goals by the end of the Innovation program and we are pleased with our results to-date. We hope to continue moving forward and in fact, I will be moving out to Nairobi in mid-August to directly oversee our operations and our expansion this fall. So it is certainly very exciting times for us. Take care everyone.