A Look Back on My 2019 Stern Venture Fellowship Experience

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Throughout my summer as a Stern Venture Fellow, I’ve had the opportunity to work on my venture, Crafted Kibble, while gaining invaluable insight and advice from an impressive network of entrepreneurs, mentors and fellow cohort members. Leveraging the program has allowed me to fine tune my business model as well as reach the critical point I currently find myself in - our official launch is next week!

Side note, my venture—Crafted Kibble is an online subscription-based dog food delivery company that customizes the feeding experience. We do this by using our proprietary algorithm to determine the correct kibble formulation and caloric intake needs for a specific dog based off its individual pet profile to meet its unique nutritional needs. We then pre-portion our proprietary formulas to ensure a healthy, fresh and hassle-free feeding experience for both the pet and the pet parent. (Check us out at www.craftedkibble.com and use the code STERN50 at checkout for 50% OFF the first TWO MONTHS - you and your pup will love it!)

Now back to SVF: As mentioned, the program played an important part in me getting to this point. A highlight of my experience thus far was our trip to Silicon Valley a couple of weeks ago. During our trip, we meet with a wide array of startups and industry experts including top notch VC’s, successful founders and c-suiters in companies like Rally Health, DocuSign and Credit Karma. 

My biggest takeaway from the trip was just how important having a robust network actually is. As an MBA student, the concept of a network and the prominence of networking are drilled into us from day 1. However, it wasn’t until this trip that I realized just how much having a large and diversified network increases your likelihood of success – and not just in your venture, but in life generally. On the trip, I heard stories from entrepreneurs with really successful exits explain that they were only able to achieve what they did by leaning on others, especially at the beginning. When funds are limited (as in most startups), founders need to leverage their relationships for free consulting and services, particularly when its outside their expertise. Instead of spending money and resources on lawyers to review contracts or hiring agencies to build out a team, money can be saved by reaching out to your network for help.  

Aside from my big takeaway, there were also several insights that I gained throughout the trip. One specific insight that was topical, considering I’m currently refining my marketing strategy, was the hyper customer segmentation that many successful entrepreneurs construct. Prior to the trip, I skimmed through that section of my marketing plan and constructed a general target audience. During the trip, I learnt how important it is to do a deep dive and truly segment your customers because like most startup (again), resources are limited and you have to target the segment that will have the highest ROI. This was an especially important insight for me.