For all those RC students debating whether to work at an entrepreneurial company this summer, there is a great way to supplement your salary with a grant from the Lebor Fellowship, administered by MBA Career Services.
The Fellowship was established by Mr. John Lebor (MBA 1930) to encourage HBS students to pursue careers at entrepreneurial companies.
Last summer, I was fortunate to receive a Lebor Fellowship to conduct an internship for a young company in Arizona that provides high-tech performance training for elite athletes. The company, called Athletes’ Performance, has assembled some of the best minds in the fields of strength training, speed training, performance research, sports nutrition, physical therapy, and sports psychology and seamlessly integrated them at a cutting edge training facility to provide an integrated solution for world-class athletes. Sponsored by companies such as Adidas and Met-Rx, the company in its first two years has attracted hundreds of the best athletes in sports to the facility for off-season performance training, and has been credited with leading a major paradigm shift in the high-level training industry from fitness to performance.
I was drawn to Athletes’ Performance because of my interest in the sports industry and my desire to use the skills I had developed in the real world and at HBS to help a company in a critical period of its existence. My experience was everything that I could have hoped for and more. Among the areas I touched were:
Marketing: I worked very closely with the company’s president to develop a comprehensive marketing plan focused on strategies to target key customer groups (professional athletes, agents, team executives, junior athletes, and the corporate market), and was heavily involved in the design and establishment of a sales and marketing organization.
Finance: Drawing heavily on my coursework in Finance, I created a detailed financial projection for the company, combining the company’s original projection from the initial business plan with the early operating results and earnings. I also assisted the company’s president in performing an activity based-costing analysis to identify the true costs of the various programs the company offered, and to refine the program menu and pricing based on the results.
Entrepreneurial Growth: In a fortunate stroke of timing, the company was approached by some very interesting growth partners, such as private equity firms and strategically intriguing companies, over the course of the summer. I performed due diligence on all partners, prepared the company’s management for the meetings, and played a very active role in the discussions. As discussions progressed with one of the partners, I took the lead on the negotiations, and prepared detailed financial impact models of each proposed structure to allow senior management to evaluate the negotiations dynamically.
Through the experience, I gained a very good sense of the incredible array of challenges facing an entrepreneur, and the speed at which every decision must be made. I also was amazed at how satisfying it was to go home each night knowing that I was part of building something which I truly believed in and for which I had a great deal of passion. It was also a great experience to apply in the real world much of what I had learned in the first year of HBS, which was certainly required of me in the resource-constrained entrepreneurial environment.
My experience was such a positive one that I am going back to Athletes’ Performance full-time upon graduation to run the company’s business operations and business development. Heading into the summer, I never anticipated that this would become a full-time endeavor for me, but thanks to the generosity of Mr. Lebor, I was able to take a chance that worked out. I highly encourage anybody considering a summer internship at an entrepreneurial company to apply for the Lebor Fellowship, which will make the decision easier economically and open the door to a very exciting summer.
Author’s Note: The deadline to apply for funding from the John F. Lebor Family Fellowship Fund is Friday, May 2, 2003 at 5:00 PM. Applications for the fellowship are available on-line on the Career Services homepage or can be picked up at Career Services, Wilder House. For more information regarding the fund, please contact: Annie Merselis, MBA Career Services, 617-495-6749, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.