Victoria Liu ’21

TowerHunt, Burlington, MA

This summer, I worked at TowerHunt, a novel start-up that is attempting to modernize the highly traditional world of real estate by means of transforming the networking experience. To explain the purpose with a comparable: TowerHunt would be the equivalent of LinkedIn, but only for individuals and stakeholders within the world of commercial real estate.

Initially, I came across Matt Marino ’05, one of TowerHunt’s co-founders, when I was seeking out guest speakers for the Williams Summit—an annual entrepreneurship conference that students host, in conjunction with the ’68 Center for Career Exploration. This year, due to the circumstances, we adapted our Summit to be completely virtual. This meant transforming classroom lectures to online YouTube videos and advertising networking receptions to Zoom meet-and-greets.

During this transition, I asked Matt to join us on our interview list and throughout the duration of our call (now published on the Williams Summit site), I came to learn of the current difficulties of navigating commercial real estate. Commercial real estate is conventionally based out of in-person networking and one’s success depends heavily on the access points available. But as one can imagine, this locks out not only certain groups of people, but also significant opportunities for collaboration and expansion. The mission to upend this system intrigued me, and I was eager for a chance to contribute.

My internship was relatively vague description-wise and TowerHunt is still in its nascency, but this is also when change and input really matters. I was proactive about broaching new ways to tackle a problem or address the audience. I learned to use AirTable and on our weekly calls, Matt frequently gave helpful feedback and guidance. Picking up on commercial real estate jargon definitely required discipline but it was a worthy endeavor.

Throughout all of my projects, I applied design thinking. Design thinking is not just the creative approach to a problem, but a creative process. From a meta standpoint, every decision requires more thinking. I re-considered every step that a user takes when using TowerHunt. Is a survey the right way to start someone off? How do we kick-start the networking as soon as they join? Is networking a component we even want to focus on? What audiences do we look at for user growth acquisition? How do we want to integrate a reward system when users join and remain loyal? When is it appropriate to add a career component to user profiles?

I worked on answering these questions while working alongside a team that was incredibly driven to reaching goals. I spent time researching the present industry operations and how they compared with what TowerHunt had changed in their own user integration and site experience. After research came synthesis of the different goals and beliefs, and then prototyping the new features into built-in options for the website. It was an iterative process that really built on my current skill set as well as my industry-specific knowledge.

I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience and I’m very grateful to those who made this possible.