This summer, Global Ventures welcomed 23 incredibly talented undergraduate and graduate candidates of diverse backgrounds to join its inaugural virtual internship program. The 6-week program gave candidates the opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of Venture Capital, engage in direct work with startups, interact with founders and investors and build meaningful relationships while miles apart.
As we approach seeing the all-too-familiar Zoom grid of our faces one last time, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the meaningful relationships that we built, and the valuable lessons that we learned, as part of the Global Ventures 23-member intern family this summer.
Just as we developed remote work routines and adapted to online relationship-building, the virtual program we signed up for has grown to become an incubator for our growth, development, and story building; stories that started with asking questions, seeking mentorship, listening to founders, observing investors, making jokes and, of course, showcasing talents. But what is a story without a lesson? With that, let’s jump into the 23 lessons that each one of us learned over this 6-week program, in no particular order:
- The VC ecosystem in emerging markets is vital for the overall livelihood of many countries in the region
During the program, I was exposed to different companies whose sole objective it is to fundamentally improve the quality of life for people, including startups that are working to increase accessibility to basic healthcare and companies that are aiding national food security programs using agriculture technology.
Sarah Alashban, Saudi Arabia
- Meditate to enhance productivity
After our wellness virtual happy hour, I am now trying my best to adopt the practice of meditation every morning since it can help boost my productivity throughout the day and enhance my performance.
Mohammed Badri, UAE
- Tap into your network for research and due diligence
Sometimes the best way to diligence a company or an industry is not through desktop research or traditional methods – it is by creating or tapping into the networks that you have, to learn from others and to talk to experts in the field.
Ben Kany, USA
- Keep pushing yourself to learn
I learned that, even though I do not know much about venture capital, I am willing to learn, and go out of my way to do the best I can.
Taj Najjar, Lebanon
- People will always find ways to connect and collaborate, even when miles apart
Through the virtual coffee chats, I learned that, regardless of personal, academic or professional background, driven, compassionate and outgoing people can connect and collaborate on many levels.
Karam Khimji, United Kingdom
- Always give 101 percent
Do more than what’s asked from you if you want to make an internship a true learning experience.
Abdulaziz Al-Turki, Saudi Arabia
- There’s a huge untapped opportunity in the Middle East and Africa
One of my biggest takeaways from this internship is that the VC and start-up ecosystem in the MEA region, especially in the UAE, is nascent, fledgling and evolving rapidly. Through my conversations with Said, the Operating Partner, and Noor’s constant reminders that the entrepreneurs in the region are awesome, I became more hopeful and optimistic about the future of the MEA VC and start-up ecosystems.
Waleed Al Breiki, UAE
- You can never stop learning
The vastness and diversity of the experiences and challenges of this internship pushed me to apply different skillsets and learn new things. When I look back, it makes me feel accomplished for the work I have managed to get done and the connections I have created within the Global Ventures network.
Jai Vithlani, Singapore
- Take risks, but have a strategy to mitigate them
While VC is a high-risk/high-return asset class, taking and accepting risks does not preclude the need to take measures to mitigate them.
Marwan Galal, Canada
- As a founder, never underestimate the product-market fit of your offering
After talking to many founders, the best advice I would give to those looking to fundraise is: think through whether or not your business model solves the problem in more than just your immediate surroundings. The problem might be a pain point for a large number of people, but is your proposed solution (product or service) the one that most will be willing to pay for?
Lina Kacyem, USA
- Always put as much effort as you can in to your work
This internship is what you make it. So, I would encourage a prospective intern to invest their time and energy in it because they may truly discover that they have capabilities they weren’t even aware of. Network, network and NETWORK. You do not come across so many talented people with such strong backgrounds every day.
Nour Allam, Egypt
- Push yourself beyond your comfort zone
Learning about a completely different field and how it operates, and being able to use new skills in my work pushed me out of my usual, comfortable ways.
Leyanne Qubbaj, UAE
- Virtual experiences have their own unique benefits
The ease and ability to work virtually with skilled individuals from all around the world has proven to be very valuable during this internship.
Sara Al Zaabi, UAE
- Have a structured framework to evaluate an investment opportunity
The pitch deck session, conducted by Said, and the mock IC were super helpful. Following the program, I have a more structured approach to evaluating investments.
Snehal Choudhary, France
- VCs are essential to the region’s innovation and economic development
As the internship progressed, and I worked on more live deals, attended more talks with founders and pioneers in the space, and got to know the GV team, I validated my opinion that VCs contribute to fostering innovation and actively supporting entrepreneurs in the region. This type of contribution drives innovation and entrepreneurship, which I believe are the most sustainable tools of economic development.
Tala Malhas, UAE
- Try to over-prepare when presenting a possible investment
During the mock IC, I learned that over-preparation mitigates any unwanted surprises.
Vemi Giwa-Amu, USA
- When working from home, don’t forget to take breaks
I usually wake up early, at 6am, exercise and go through my morning routine before I begin working. I found that taking the time to eat away from my work space, and going on walks were very helpful and energizing.
- Honesty is key in a founder
One of the most important qualities investors look for is honesty. Founders shouldn’t exaggerate the success of their products or services, but rather forge an honest relationship with their potential investors.
Razi Ardakani, United Kingdom
- Don’t overanalyze your decisions
After listening to Mudassir Sheikha’s amazing lecture, the main lesson that stood out was “don’t over analyze your decisions”. As a startup founding team, at some point there is going to have to be this shift in your decision-making process, where you start to focus more on agility as opposed to over analysis. Learning that, often, 80% of the information is enough to make a decision was an important lesson I took away from that lecture.
Ibrahim Aldlaigan, Saudi Arabia
- Set goals and have the discipline to achieve them
Working from home can be a little demotivating, and with many distractions around you, it can be hard to focus! I found goal-setting to be a great way to manage the workload and track outcomes.
Iman Haider, United Kingdom
- As a founder, seek advice and mentorship to stay focused
Entrepreneurs may sometimes focus on ancillary things and leave behind the fundamentals. It important to have outside advisors to help them re-center their focus.
Ammar El-Seed, UAE
- To evaluate a startup opportunity, talking to the customers is crucial
It is very important to meet with the customers and users of a start-up’s offering as part of the assessment of an investment.
Mabrouk Elkawas, Egypt
- Every problem is an opportunity, the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity and we’re so lucky to be part of a region with so many opportunities
In his lecture, Mudassir Sheikha emphasized the wide-ranging scale of problems that people face in emerging markets, and especially in MEA; the corollary to this is the unique position that we have in tackling many of those problems one step at a time.
Joud Tabaza, Jordan
It goes without saying that if it weren’t for the immense dedication and effort that the GV team put into this program, none of these lessons would have surfaced. For this, we collectively send a very warm thank you to every member of the phenomenal Global Ventures team. Thank you for every minute you spent thinking about us, engaging with us, getting to know us, teaching us, advising us, and, naturally, writing our Global Ventures stories with us.