Williams Summer Institute for Entrepreneurship
During my summer project with Williams Summer Institute of Entrepreneurship (WSIE), I worked with my partner Hector on developing a transportation/rideshare application for rural areas. Our app seeks to match drivers who are already going to a predetermined destination to sell their “empty” seats to interested riders. This differs from rideshare apps such as Uber/Lyft that provide on-demand transportation; and our initial beta phase will limit participation to Williams students only.
Our goal for the summer was to successfully phase in a fully functional rideshare application for Williams, with possible expansion to the larger Berkshire community and beyond. WSIE provides a welcoming community to share and build our ideas, connecting to both our immediate advisor, Tonio Palmer, and to entrepreneurs and industry-specific alumni. WSIE also presented unique opportunities to receive feedback on our project, hearing from various alumni in industries such as e-commerce, supply chain management, risk management and crypto/blockchain Web3 technologies, as well as general professional career advice.
During our customer discovery process, my team interviewed faculty, staff and students at Williams. We learned a few surprising things about preferences, particularly with the social component of the car environment. Some interviewees voiced concerns about someone’s option to designate a “quiet car,” suggesting that doing so violates the spirit of the Williams community. To expand, this viewpoint saw the driver’s role as doing a favor for the riders as opposed to participating in a mutual transaction. We found that interviewees who did not share this opinion were much more supportive of designating noise levels in a car. A helpful piece of advice I learned as an aspiring entrepreneur was to keep an open discussion when interviewing; people love sharing their opinions and will often bring up what is most important to them.
As a participant in WSIE, I was given the opportunity to network with various alumni and professionals. Coming from a first-generation background, I was never comfortable conversing in a professional setting, but WSIE allowed that to change. Hearing from industry experts, faculty and staff was eye-opening for my work and has provided me with valuable experience for a post-Williams life. Particularly in outreach and scheduling, I learned the importance of following up with interviewees and respecting people’s time. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned during the summer was that people love to talk about themselves. This change to a listening mindset made interactions less stressful and much more free-flowing. While interviews used to feel very professional and uptight, I’m now able to manage them to be more of a conversation. I feel more acclimated than ever to the Williams environment, and I look forward to what lies ahead.
Finally, I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Case for making my summer experience with WSIE possible. I am grateful for your unwavering support for entrepreneurship at Williams and look forward to sharing my experiences with fellow students.