The goal of my personal website is to have a space to save the projects I have worked on, companies I have worked for, startups I have launched, and organizations I have been a part of so that I have an easy way of showcasing my personal work experience. This post is about the first company I started, Menerva International Advising.
Menerva was my first company, and the first taste I had of the work required to start a new company. It was created by myself while attending a summer leadership program at Wharton my junior year of high school called Leadership in the Business World. It was a six week program designed to introduce us to various aspects of business, and for most of the 140+ students it was our first real exposure to business and networking.
A speaker came and talked to us in one lecture about the importance of utilizing LinkedIn, even from a young age. I had previously learned how to use LinkedIn from a speaker at my high school, and had a fairly robust profile. Peers started asking me to help create their profile, and I quickly realized there was a business opportunity in writing LinkedIn profiles for high school students, at an affordable price.
The business model was fairly simple: hire teams of students to write profiles, and use students as regional managers to focus on attracting new customers in their schools and communities. We charged $99 for a simple profile write-up, with 30% of each sale split between the writer and individual who landed the client.
I hired a team of 10 fellow students I had met through Leadership in the Business world who helped me launch Menerva. While Menerva never became a wildly profitable business, we did have several things that made it a success in my eyes; we raised almost $30,000 in funding, our team grew to over 100 students in 35 states and 7 countries, we were selected as one of the first high school companies to join the Catapult Incubator, and we were selected as finalists in the US-Spain Chamber of Commerce Business Competition held in New York City.
Despite these successes, there were a lot of personal failures that I had to learn from. I was only 17 and this was my first experience running a business; as a result, I demanded too much too quickly, failed to measure results, failed to set goals and expectations, and often provided poor guidance and direction as a CEO. I fired several friends because I put the business before our relationship, and though I still have those relationships today that was something I had to ask forgiveness for.
Menerva International Advising was an incredible learning experience, and set the foundation for all my future entrepreneurial pursuits.