Jimmy Li ’24

Pillar49, Toronto, Canada

This past summer, I interned at Pillar49 in Toronto, Canada. Pillar49 is an entrepreneurial firm that partners with early-start companies and takes on the role of “active managers,” stepping in and providing operational and financial resources to support and drive long-term growth. They collaborate with the existing management and teams to preserve each company’s culture and people while providing flexible partnerships with owners, supplying solutions for retirement, reducing day-to-day involvement, or accessing the capital needed to drive their next level of growth. Above all, Pillar49 prioritizes long-term growth, and this further allows them to maintain business culture and identity, driving sustainable growth by investing in people, systems and processes.

At Pillar49, my original job responsibilities included finding, cultivating and leading relationships with early-stage technology companies to better understand their product offerings and how they can be implemented successfully with smaller businesses to drive growth. Furthermore, I was told I would also be conducting diligence on different companies in multiple industries to understand the operational and commercial expertise required to build them from scratch. However, after I started working, I discovered that I would be conducting more research and analysis.

Specifically, I was responsible for conducting market research in the vacation rental management (VRM) industry during the first few weeks of my internship. Each intern was assigned a region in Canada or the United States, and we had to look for ideal sized VRM companies that could be potential partnership targets. After compiling an appropriate list, we also had to track down the owners or CEOs of these businesses. Using different websites and software, we found the contact information for each of these business owners and input all of the information into a spreadsheet, which was then sent to my supervisor for review. During my time at Pillar49, the firm succeeded in partnering with one VRM in northern Ontario, but I don’t think any of the potential targets that I found came to fruition.

I also helped on a recent project that was in the IT services industry. Although the business area is different, I conducted similar work in looking for potential business partnership opportunities and compiling them into a spreadsheet. For this project, however, I examined each potential target more thoroughly. I took note of their services, products and industries in which they specialized in (if any), to better understand roles and missions. This internship exposed me to industries I’ve never heard of before, and it has helped me realize my interests so that I can now make more informed decisions on my future.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Case Family for this learning experience at Pillar49 this summer. It would not have been possible without your generosity—thank you.