First step into a startup company
Somto Okonkwo ’21 | News Editor
Last week, an interview was held with Endi Mato ’19 to discuss a new group in the Consulting Club called the Startup Consulting Group, which is focused on networking, marketing, business management and finance. In the interview, Mato said, “I wanted to start SCG because nothing like it has ever been done in this capacity at Smith.” Although the Consulting Club has members with a variety of interests, Mato believed there needed to be more opportunities at Smith for women in business to work with startups that match their personalities and skill sets. “While the Consulting Club focuses on practicing business cases and networking with consultants, students don’t get the opportunity to work with businesses until they start their first internship or job. There’s a pertinent gap between student entrepreneurs, who need help with their projects, and student consultants, who want to gain experience working on businesses.”
Mato regarded the creation of this group as a project, working for more student involvement and sharing the group’s responsibilities among its members. She said that she hopes she can close the gap between the Consulting Club and the Startup Consulting Group. “We’re pushing even further by connecting the startup consultants with established startups in the Pioneer Valley area and investors, so they can learn both inside and outside Smith.”
Getting work experience is a major concern for international students, as many employment and internship positions aren’t accessible to them. Mato, an international student from Albania, understands how international students could be at a disadvantage in this respect. Seeking to support the international community at Smith — especially those with bigger projects — she collaborates with Julian Lustig, a Pioneer Valley venture consultant and entrepreneur.
Since September, Mato has achieved a lot. She said: “We met with our first Pioneer Valley startup for consultation and attended several important entrepreneurship events in the area, such as the Grinspoon Conference. In addition to weekly team meetings and training sessions, we also met with established angel investors at River Valley Investors and entrepreneurs-in-training from Valley Venture Mentors. We look forward to working on more case projects with startups this semester and growing our network for the upcoming year.”