2011 TEC Fellows: Then and Now


Earlier this month, we shared a then-and-now post featuring our 2009 True Entrepreneur Corps Fellows. This week, we’re checking in with our Fellows from the summer of 2011 in hopes that their stories will inspire more applicants for our 2017 fellowship, now accepting applications through January 15th, 2017.

College juniors and seniors with a passion for entrepreneurship and technology are strongly encouraged to apply.

What did you work on during your TEC Fellowship and what are you doing now? 

Jenny Li, TEC Fellow Alum

Jenny Li: I interned with Sparked, an online volunteering platform that connected nonprofits with qualified volunteers. My role was to manage and improve the nonprofit experience. This ranged from conducting user research, analyzing the swath of nonprofit and volunteer data, running experiments and releasing feature improvements. All of this in 10 weeks!

I’m now a product manager at Zynga, where I develop games with a focus on user-centric design and data-driven products. The True Entrepreneur Corps was my first exposure to the tech world and was the driving force for my decision to go into tech.

Vishal Maini, TEC Fellow Alum

Vishal Maini: I interned with Schematic Labs, where I worked on growth, product, and user experience for SoundTracking, a mobile app for sharing musical moments (since acquired by Rhapsody). I learned quite a bit about tech startups and venture capital through sessions with True and the curriculum they assembled for us.

I now run growth at Upstart. We’re a marketplace lending platform whose underwriting algorithm considers signals of potential (e.g., employment and education) rather than relying solely on credit history. I lead a team of eight across digital/offline marketing, partnerships, content/SEO, CRM, brand and analytics.

Stephanie Zolayvar, TEC Fellow Alum

Stephanie Zolayvar: I worked at BrightRoll, building internal tools for visualization.

I now work for a three-person startup called Arbital and volunteer at a nonprofit called CFAR.  If not for TEC, I likely would have had a quieter life at a big company.

Lionel Vital, TEC Fellow Alum

Lionel Vital: I built a set of web analytics tools for Kissmetrics, one of which still ranks #1 in Google Search five years later. 

One of the partners at True, Puneet (Agarwal), graciously introduced me to the founder of tenXer, and it turned out to be an amazing experience straight out of college. Twitter acquired tenXer two and a half years later; I’m still here at Twitter!

What was your biggest takeaway from the TEC experience and what’s your advice to future Fellows?

Jenny: TEC showed me how the startup and tech world is for everyone, no matter your background. It may take a few tries to land on what works for you, but TEC is designed to show you a broad spectrum of experiences. 

To make the most of your TEC experience, attend events, get to know the other Fellows and the True Ventures team, and be purposeful with your actions. Lastly, stay in touch! In the five years since TEC, so many good things have come from the program. I have even had the privilege of working with another TEC Fellow, Vishal Maini. 

Vishal: During my summer with True Ventures, I began to understand that tech entrepreneurship was the ideal place to begin my career as someone who values real impact and meritocracy. If you have a vision for how you want the world to be, startups are the place to make it happen. 

Act more confident than you feel. Apply for things you don’t think you’ll get. Seek out mentorship from people you want to learn from; people like to help other people. 

Stephanie: When I met a bunch of people who were ambitious about affecting the world, I realized that they were just people, and that I’m allowed to be that ambitious too.

Lionel: People matter most. Whether it’s the customers you’re solving problems for, the Founders driving the success of your startup, the mentors teaching you or the cooks behind the delicious food you’ll eat, it’s all about people. Appreciate them.

And hang out with other TEC Fellows as much as possible. Some of them may end up being your best friends, future teammates or both!

Learn more about TEC and apply to the 2017 program here.