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A Fellowship that is Making a Difference

  |   Fellowship

Elijah Gordon, TAMID at Cornell class of 2022, is the Vice President of his chapter and is a current fellow working as a Business Development Intern for the govtech startup Colu. The following is an excerpt about his fulfilling internship experience so far.

 
Here I am on day 2. No, not in an office building in Tel Aviv, but in my bedroom anxiously staring at the Zoom loading screen as I await the start of my first Business Development Team Weekly Meeting in a collared shirt and athletic shorts. We have weekly meetings on Wednesdays in which interns from every team report what they have accomplished to date, any takeaways from their tasks, and goals for next week. I didn’t offer much input that day besides an introduction, but Elad Erdan, Colu’s Global Business Development Manager, assured me to not worry because by next week I’d be presenting so much it would appear as if I had worked at the company for a month. It turns out he could not have been more correct. I had heard this from past fellows, but one of the great things about working for a startup is that you’re thrown into the mix from the outset, being assigned a multitude of tasks for a myriad of different sectors. Learning so much about Colu from every meeting and presentation and handling all these tasks, I quickly realized how much of a tangible impact I was making on Colu’s operations, even from my own bedroom. Needless to say, I was able to contribute greatly in future meetings like Elad assured.

 

Given the uncertainty of the past few months, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work as a Business Development Intern for Colu on their COVID-19 Task Force to help small businesses recover from the economic downturn caused by the global pandemic. Colu is a govtech startup that has created an app featuring a platform that enables cities to reward residents with a digital city coin for taking actions that promote their strategic goals. Colu has already done great work in Tel Aviv, markedly increasing business activity on Jerusalem Boulevard, but this summer we are looking to expand to U.S. cities to assist in their recovery efforts. I’m playing an integral role on the Akron, Ohio Launch Team, where we will soon be launching the Akronite digital wallet app to revitalize their economy by stimulating business and engaging and empowering residents.

 

As a member of the Akron Launch Team, my responsibilities have included researching Akron small businesses, creating a “one-pager”, and scheduling meetings with local businesses who would benefit from the Colu app. When conducting research, I would log their phone numbers, websites, hours, and status on whether they have reopened or not on a Google Sheet. The one-pager describes the initiative and its benefits to these businesses. By calling a significant amount of Akron small businesses, I was able to establish a personal connection with each owner by hearing their stories and how they had been affected by COVID-19. Our mission is to foster and stimulate the connection between residents and local small businesses through the app, so it was rewarding to experience that and to serve as the first step in helping these businesses rebound financially.

 

I am also on the Strategic Partnerships Team. As part of this team, I’ve done research on potential partners in the Midwest as well as in the states of North Carolina and California, structured introductory emails explaining Colu’s mission and the benefits of our services, quantified the impact of different investment amounts on additional revenue and jobs created, and developed one-pagers defining the impact we have made in numbers and these benefits. We are developing partnerships with corporate companies, nonprofits, smart-city organizations, and other foundations focused on economic development so we can assist each other in achieving our shared goals.

 

Aside from the work I have done on these two teams, I have also engaged in some miscellaneous assignments. I put together a presentation that examined the functions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, described how different states were using the funds provided to them, and offered ideas to Colu on how we can alter incentives or add new features to the app. I have also helped both Elad and Michael prepare for meetings and presentations by assembling executive summaries on current initiatives in U.S. cities like Stockton, CA and companies like Streetsense.

 

I would like to express my gratitude to Fellowship Director Shev Shatzman, Cohort Leader Adina Remz, and the rest of the TAMID staff for seamlessly making the shift to a virtual Fellowship and for facilitating the internship matching process, and Colu VP of Business Development Michael Mazur along with the rest of the Business Development Team for quickly onboarding me, making me feel welcome, and allowing me to do such meaningful work during such a crucial shift for Colu. I am eternally grateful for the hands-on work experience and the insightful professional development webinars that are gifted to me by participating in the fellowship. This is just some of the impactful work I have done already during my first month as an intern, and I am looking forward to the rest of the fellowship experience.