A different kind of internship

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Ever tried to drink from a firehose? Believe me you don't want to.

Starting a business is in many ways no different: you're drinking from a firehose of blogs, podcasts, books, courses and forums, an overwhelming amount of information that often leaves you more confused than when you started.

Here's a better way.

Before we start

This is about you and helping the entrepreneurship ecosystem, not me.

When we say internship the first thing that comes to mind is mindless work companies don't want to pay for and throw at interns in exchange for a line on their CV.

That's not the point here.

You are not working for me. At best you are working with me. But really you are working for the startup community at large and yourself.

I'm on a mission to give back and support entrepreneurship because where I come from lots of things are broken and the existing powers don't care to fix them. I believe that entrepreneurs can shake things up by innovating and, as a business bottom up movement, get where governments and big companies don't dare to go.

If you look at startups as your chance to be rich and famous since you couldn't make it as a rock star, I wish you best of luck and you can stop reading here. Really, not judging anybody and I truly wish you the best, but we're not compatible so no point in working together.

Work from wherever you are whenever you want

I started SpikeLab to help people that need support right now, right where they are. This internship is no different: you don't need to move, go to an office or anything like that.

I worked and managed remote teams for most of my life so I know that not only it's possible, but it's also incredibly beneficial if you know how to work with it. Don't worry, you won't miss water cooler conversations and I promise you will be highly engaged if you want to.

Overwhelming isn't it?

When I started my first business I picked up as many books, blogs and podcasts I could and devoured them. I wanted a strong foundation and a sense of understanding what I was going to do.

After about 6 months of absorbing everything I could find instead of feeling more secure about the product I wanted to build I was more confused.

I guess this is why so many entrepreneurs just ignore the questions and go ahead and build stuff. If only it worked (and I admit I tried that too, no dice, just wasted time and money).

I had a tons of questions and nobody to ask. That turned out to be the biggest limiting factor of my career to that point.

The network effect

We often praise heroes as the super humans that don't need anybody else, the geniuses at the top, but what I learned is that the top dogs are actually the ones with the strongest network and who most often rely on a selected group of peers to ensure things play out the way they thought.

Building a strong network of friends and collaborators is to date one of the most useful things I've ever done, but the process has nothing to do with fake networking events where people go to shake hands and exchange business cards.

Nothing.

You build a good network by being helpful. One of the most important gigs in my life, co-running the Lean Startup Circle, and one of my dearest friends, Tristan, both materialized after I volunteered to help moving tables and cleaning up for an event.

And I've heard similar stories over and over again when I asked how others got crucial opportunities.

Observing how it's done

And volunteering isn't just a matter of entering somebody's grace, especially if they are the kind of smart people you want to hang out with they'll see through that limited intention if that's all you have.

More importantly it's an opportunity to see someone experienced doing what you hope to do yourself. On top of that you often get exposed to that person's network and start to create new relationships.

If you couple this with personal initiative and a lot of homework you can see how it's the perfect recipe to fast track your success.

Your chance

That's all I wanted and needed back then when I was just starting out. But there was no such option. I had to fight hard in order to create an opportunity for myself. This in a way was a good exercise and on the other end it slowed me down quite a bit as I spent a lot of time running down the wrong path.

This internship is your chance to save yourself that pain, get to practice hands on how products are built and get exposed to a ton of startups and other people in the ecosystem.

But wait, who the heck am I?

I hear you, who am I? my name doesn't figure in Tech Crunch or any other trendy startup news website, but believe it or not I'm actually pretty happy about it.

If that's a problem for you and how you assess the opportunity that's perfectly fine, it's a good sign we shouldn't be working together.

Still, here's some of the stuff I've done/am doing:

  • worked for Google
  • worked in a startup with a big exit
  • founded several other startups (yes they all got shut down eventually)
  • been in tech almost 15 years
  • worked from London to Berlin, to Singapore and other parts of Asia and all the way around to San Francisco
  • co-run the Lean Startup Circle organization which is one of the largest organization for the promotion and adoption of Lean Startup methodologies worldwide.
  • co-founded the Lean Startup Peer to Peer Circle, an education program for entrepreneurs
  • currently mentor several startups in 4 different industries

So what's exactly in it for you?

Glad you asked.

It's about you

I'm doing this for you, not myself.

I know it's weird, when people say internship all we can think of is unpaid work companies want to dish out to fresh grads.

Not my case.

As I tried to explain I just want to give an opportunity to my younger self and save to someone else some of that pain I had to go through. If you can get up to speed faster it means you can get sooner to do awesome things for others.

Attention

First of all Spikelab is one person and a bunch of collaborators so you'll get a lot of attention. I care about all the people I work with from those I mentor to those I'm building this very program with. You'd be joining that group. We will have a lot of 1:1 time where you can ask questions and we can talk about whatever you want.

Investments

To the extent I can I'm happy to invest money to buy courses or other things that might be beneficial to your learning and the work you'll be doing. Most common thing I've done in the past is to get people courses on Udemy and similar stuff.

Work from wherever you are whenever you want

I worked most of my life remotely so I don't care where you are nor when you work. What matters is the quality and punctuality of what you create.

It's useful to find some common time to chat and connect, but otherwise I'm not going to micromanage you in any way or form.

What will you be working on and learning

I always have a ton of different stuff to do so expect a lot of variety. To mention a few things I would pass on if you were to start today:

  • setup a podcast: this can be a huge source of traffic and a great customer acquisition channel depending what you end up doing so a good skill to learn
  • startup accelerator/incubator glass door: this is a full fledge project I'm beginning to build. it would be an opportunity to talk to accelerators from all over the world and take something from zero to a solid user base
  • help write, edit and publish two ebooks on entrepreneurship
  • build a whole new course on customer development, there will be filming and editing to do and design the course itself
  • support the accelerator program I've started and help me run it

As you go through those projects you will learn:

  • the life cycle of a product and a company, in other words you will have a map of what it takes to build a startup
  • a solid grasp of customer development, how to find customers and how to talk to them to get feedback
  • copy writing and marketing, how to write good post and copy that converts so that your landing pages won't suck
  • Lean Startup methodologies and working by iteration, so that you'll have to a framework to develop whatever you want in a way that eliminates waste (especially building stuff people won't use/buy)
  • Design Thinking methodologies, and how to integrate them with Lean. This will dig into brainstorming, idea creation and techniques to assess the best ideas. We will also explore co-creation on some projects
  • how to network effectively and do outreach
  • public speaking as part of recording online workshops

Requirements

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It's pretty simple. You need to:

  • [wanting to] live and breath startups. This is what I do. If you aren't going to be passioned about startups it's not worth your time.
  • ability to figure stuff out. Granted we all need help and I'm here for that, I don't intend to spoon feed you
  • you're driven by a desire to learn and help. That's how I work. I'm not here to make money fast or be famous. If that's your goal this internship is not for you
  • your level of english (especially written) is good/great (you will need to do a lot of writing so this is not optional and you will be required to write something as part of your admission)

that's it, not asking for the moon.

For time requirements see the section below.

How long is the program? How many hours/week are required?

The internship is as long as you want with a minimum of 6 months and 10hours a week.

The min of 6 months is because with less than that you won't be able to even complete a single project and learn the real stuff. We will move fast, but good things take time, please step out of the bubble of overnight successes if that's where you're at.

And you can't get that done anyway if you don't have 10hrs a week. For many years I worked in the evenings after work, about 4 hours and then at least a full day if not more over the weekend. That's ~30 hours. If you can't even get to 10 I don't see how you're motivated enough.

If the min is 6 months the max is whatever you want. Some of the people I mentored have become collaborators and then started their own business. Ultimately I've no idea how this will evolve and I'm open to anything, but I want to avoid that either of us wastes time.

The application

You read all the way, congratulations, please proceed to the application form.