Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Internship Series: Start Ups in NYC (and Spain!)

Summer is flying by but Booth interns are still being kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to talk about their internships. This week, TBE’s very own Dana Fortini shares her story. I, personally, can’t wait to hear more about her internship at Spanish Vines – and to make myself available for any product testing she might need – when we return to campus.

Tuesday, 9:30a.m.: You're at the Ace Hotel, meeting with the principals of a boutique design firm to discuss re-branding of one of the key products in your portfolio.

Tuesday, 1:00p.m.: You head to Casa Mono, a Michelin-rated Spanish restaurant in NYC, to taste sherries with the wine buyer.

Tuesday, 3:00p.m.: You're at your CEO's studio apartment on the Lower East Side, working on an investor presentation for private equity firms and angel investors.

Believe it or not, I've had days like this while working at Spanish Vines this summer. Founded in 2009, Spanish Vines is a New York-based importer of wines from Spain's most prestigious and highly regarded DOs (DO stands for "denominacion de origen" – the regulatory classification for wines from Spain). I was hired to shape and implement the company's social media and SEO strategies, but in true start-up form, I've also been assigned projects related to finance, mobile app development, and PR for our constituents in Spain. (A perk of the job: I also get to enjoy a refreshing glass of Txakoli on a hot summer day.) Because the company is so small, I work directly for the CEO and collaborate with him on a daily basis. He treats me less like an intern and more like his peer, so I've been given tremendous responsibility over the past 6 weeks.

The entrepreneurship classes I've taken at Booth have done an excellent job at preparing me for my projects at Spanish Vines. The New Venture Challenge taught me many valuable lessons that I was able to apply throughout the funding process for Spanish Vines. Although the business metrics that PE and angel investors look for are slightly different than what VCs seek, I was able to draft the key parts of a business plan and investor presentation based on what I had learned from NVC. Through the NVC process, I also learned how important it was to have a passionate and dedicated team. All of us at Spanish Vines want to share the story of Spain with the US consumer. We also share the vision that Spanish wines are poised to become a category leader in the US market.

Another course at Booth that has been highly applicable to my internship experience is Entrepreneurial Selling. You would think that a product as fun and enjoyable as wine would have no trouble selling itself (especially our wines, they're pretty great!). Unfortunately, it's a lot harder than you would think to receive commitments from key on-premise (this is industry jargon for restaurants and bars) and off-premise (supermarkets and liquor stores) accounts. At Spanish Vines, we target, prospect and qualify our potential wine buyers before scheduling meetings in order to increase the likelihood of placement on the wine list at some of NYC's trendiest and most popular restaurants.

In August, I'll be heading to Spain to meet with our winemakers and the families that own the bodegas. We want to build our US brand image through the use of rich stories and photography, so I will be responsible for generating and curating content on this trip. Although our company is primarily in the business of selling wine, we also want our consumers to learn how wine is directly tied to Spanish culture and the livelihoods of many individuals in the country. I'm very excited about the trip not only because I get to travel throughout some of the most picturesque areas of Spain, but because I have always wanted to deliver the pride and passion that the winemakers have for their craft to the US consumer. In addition to writing about the experience as part of my company's consumer marketing initiative, I'll be reflecting on my time at Spanish Vines during the Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) seminar this fall! (Head here if you'd like to learn more about EIP.) I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences with my entrepreneurial peers and learning all about their accomplishments at their internships.


  1. Dana,
    Thanks for the post about your time so far with the team at SV. Your entrepreneurial spirit was clear on day 1 when your internship changed and you had to jump in and work on the investor presentation. Your work and attitude are incredible and a testament to the program at Booth. We are happy to have you!

    Pres/CFO SV

  2. Dana,

    Thanks for sharing this experience. You seem very committed to the mission of the company. It also seems that working for a "smaller" company (as opposed to working for a corporate giant) really adds a lot of variety to your day-to-day. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the summer.

    Mauricio Pérez Benítez (Incoming student)