Sep 13, 2018

An Internship with Maine Venture Fund

Binh Nguyen is a proud member of the Class of 2019. In his free time, he loves to explore breweries, sing karaoke, and go hiking.

Prior to Tuck, I worked with smallholder farmers in Cambodia and with microfinance institutions in the Philippines. Coming to business school, I knew that I wanted to continue using the power of finance to empower small business owners. This summer, with the support of Tuck GIVES, I interned at the Maine Venture Fund—an evergreen fund that invests in Maine-based companies in order to create jobs locally.

For my summer, I had two workstreams. First, I was tasked with conducting due diligence on one of the Fund’s portfolio companies in the edtech space. The edtech company was planning to do another round of fundraising at the end of 2018, and from the Fund’s perspective, we would like to know how attractive the future opportunities would be in the edtech verticals that the company competes in. In conducting research on the market size of these edtech verticals, I reached out to my T’19 classmates who have experiences in edtech, and received rich insights.

Before I started Tuck, a Tuck alumnus told me that I would learn a significant amount from my classes, but I would learn the most from my classmates. This summer, our T’19 GroupMe chat was buzzing with classmates helping each other, and I felt so fortunate that I had picked Tuck as my family. Towards the end of my internship, I delivered a PowerPoint deck with market size and growth trends of education verticals to my colleagues at the Fund, and also shared my insights from this research with the founder of the mentioned edtech portfolio company. He told me that as he was planning on raising a substantial amount of money, the work that I had done would help him formulate his fundraising pitch, allowing the company to continue its explosive growth trajectory.

For my second workstream, I was tasked with improving the production efficiency of another portfolio company in the manufacturing space. When I first started walking the floor at the manufacturing company, I could sense that while the management team was excited to work with me, the staff members who physically make the products were not quite sure why I was there, and how I could help them with their production. In order to establish trust, I took the time to ask them about the current production processes, as well as the frustrations that they were experiencing with how things were being done. I then asked them to proceed with their normal production activities, and I did a time study and a process mapping—using tools that I learned from Tuck’s core Operations Management course—to identify the bottlenecks. After I figured out the bottlenecks, I proposed that the production staff adopt it, and I would do another time study on the new process. I then asked them how they felt about the new process. After they described how smoothly the new process felt to them, I presented the data to back up their observations. By involving the staff on the production floor in the decision making process right at the beginning, I was able to earn their trust. Having these great working relationships enabled me to get their buy-ins in subsequent process improvements and implement these changes smoothly.

When I left, I had created an additional $1M worth of value, which is significant for a $4M startup. My summer internship experience has further solidified my plan of pursuing finance to create social good. I would like to thank the Center for Business, Government & Society for supporting me, and I cannot wait to share my experiences with future Tuckies who are interested in this line of work!