Thanks to COVID-19, most of our summer plans are looking a lot different than usual. But that isn’t stopping a group of enterprising students in Macalester College’s MacNest 2020 program from pairing up with local businesses to gain insight and experience in the startup realm.

Let’s shine a summer spotlight on the MacNest 2020 participants to learn more about what they’re getting out of the program and what they like most about the startup world.

You just might get some hot summer jam recommendations, too.

Let’s take a look at the MacNest 2020 student participants.

Niketh Gamage

MacNest

Graduation Year and Major: 2021

Physics and Applied Mathematics

Hometown: Galle, Sri Lanka

Startup Pairing: Litty Solar

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

I’ve been part of the entrepreneurship club at Macalester since my freshman year and was always interested in the startup environment . The Twin Cities is full of young startups in a variety of disciplines. However, a lot of them cannot afford interns for a long time, and for young college students such as me, it is not financially feasible to work as an unpaid intern. MacNest sponsors students and gives them the opportunity to be a part of and learn from these environments and allows students to apply their skills in a productive manner in the real world.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

How the Solar and Energy Industries works and what the future of it looks like. Electrical Engineering skills.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

Fast-paced, lot of learning opportunities.

Litty SolarWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

There’s not a lot of startups in established industries such as the energy industry, and it is interesting how Litty Solar is planning to break into this.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

Reading and working out.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

Bata Nala by Costa

Precious Dlamini

MacNest

Graduation Year and Major: 2021

Major(s): Economics, Applied Math and Statistics

Minor: Dance

Hometown: Manzini, The Kingdom of Eswatini

Startup Pairing: Bim Bam Boo

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

I wanted to participate in the MacNest 2020 program because I am able to work closely with the founder of the company hence the opportunity to learn and gain experience with working in a small business. I also believe that it is a great opportunity for me to apply the knowledge and skills that I have acquired from my classes.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

I hope that this experience will help me further develop essential skills for my academic work such as presentation skills, research skills, and data analysis skills. I also hope that this experience will bring me closer to figuring out what I really enjoy doing because I currently have a lot of things that I am interested in work-wise. I also hope that this experience will help me identify my strengths and weaknesses so that I am able to re-evaluate the effort I put in working on them.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

I enjoy working with a startup because I get to do meaningful work to help build, develop and grow the business. I also like that I get to work closely with the founder hence I get to learn a lot from them especially about what it takes to start and run a business.

What are some of your entrepreneurial goals?

Last Fall semester, I participated in the Macathon competition hosted by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation office at Macalester College with a group of friends. We created a program designed to help high school students explore their interests and pathways so they can increase their chances of success either through higher education, vocational training or entrepreneurship in Eswatini. Through funds raised from a crowdfunding campaign by the same office, we hosted a successful four-day workshop in a high school located at a rural area in Eswatini during the winter break. Currently, the program is on hold, but the plan is to continue developing it so that it reaches more young people in Eswatini.

Bim Bam BooWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

I like that Bim Bam Boo focuses on women’s health and sustainability through the production of tree-free toilet paper, which is also soft and good for sensitive skin. Working for Bim Bam Boo makes me proud because I know that I am contributing positively to the world and towards women’s health.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

Dance, Tennis, Netflix and listening to music.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

Start small. It is okay to have grand ideas and not pursue them all at once.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

I don’t really have a specific song that I am jamming to this summer but I enjoy listening to Afrobeats.

Radu Lungu

MacNest

Graduation Year and Major: 2022

Major(s): Economics and Computer Science

Hometown: Mereni, Moldova

Startup Pairing: Brightfox

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

Learning more about the vibrant startup culture in the Twin Cities.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

I hope to learn how to bring a business idea to life, including learning the people, technical and entrepreneurship skills.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

I love the passion and flexibility. Everyone in the team is really motivated and passionate about the problem we are trying to solve. Also, being a start-up, we have the flexibility to work when we are the most productive, and not be confined to working hours. Lastly, having a flat structure, allows me to directly learn from everyone in the company, staring with the CEO and ending with our front end developer.

What are some of your entrepreneurial goals?

I would love to lead a business in the tech field one day.

BrightfoxWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

The fact that we are a global start-up having people all over the world, staring with Israel, Moldova, and the United States. Also, I love that we are trying to solve a niche problem for hospitals and physicians.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

I love reading, playing water polo, and basketball.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

That someone has already thought about all your ideas, and thinking why they didn’t put them into practice really helps finding the best opportunity.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

Post Malone.

Sivhuo Prak

MacNest

Graduation Year and Major: 2021

Major: Computer Science

Hometown: Combodia

Startup Pairing: We Sparkle

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

I want to join MacNest 2020 program because it provides internships for students to work closely with a founder in a complex, demanding work experience. The students also have a chance to join career development workshops to make connections in their internship experience.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

I am very excited to work with Nick and Michelle to develop new software applications, get hands-on experiences, and learn more about new technologies that might not be taught in school.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

I am curious about entrepreneurship, innovation, and startup culture. I want to gain experience to use in my academics and toward my future job, and also understand the impact individuals can have on early stage ventures.

What are some of your entrepreneurial goals?

I don’t have any solid entrepreneurial goals yet, but I always want to create a small company that can make a positive impact in my community.

We SparkleWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

I chose We Sparkle because I wanted to join a team focused on helping small businesses grow. We Sparkle accomplishes this by using AI technology to help with administrative tasks and increase sales. This internship is a great opportunity for me to develop my technical skills and also help small businesses in the Twin Cities at the same time.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, I like doing community services such as volunteering at the local nursing home and teaching English to local immigrants. I also enjoy traveling, meeting new people, trying different kinds of food, and learning more about cultures around the world.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

Relationships and friendships are equally important, if not more. Don’t look at people as potential clients. Instead, forge a relationship with them that is long lasting. Show gratitude, help people, and build relationships.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

Faded by Alan Walker

Tate Munnich

MacNest

Graduation Year and Major: 2021

Major: Math

Hometown: Port Townsend, Washington

Startup Pairing: BetterYou

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

Cool way to explore a company and different things they do.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

Gain experience in a professional setting.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

Watching it grow.

BetterYouWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

Watching them adapt to changing conditions in the world.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

Backpacking and sailing.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

There are always new problems to solve.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

Wild Ones – Sia

Vichearith Meas

MacNest

Graduation Year and Major: 2021

Major(s): Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Hometown: Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia

Startup Pairing: Otrafy Technologies

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

My dream is to have a successful tech company that creates positive social impacts on my community. The MacNest 2020 experience is just the right building block that puts me a step closer to my goal. MacNest provides a unique opportunity to get involved in an early-stage startups and study about all aspects of company operations. The experience I get from participating in MacNest is the stepping stone for me to learn more about my career paths in the software development field as well as relevant preparation needed to become a successful entrepreneur running a company in the tech industry. I am eager to put my creativity and design-thinking knowledge to generate innovative solutions contributing to making real-life impacts through the products and services I deliver.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

I would like to gain first-hand experience working in a startup as I wish to be exposed to challenges, pressure, and deadlines. My goal is to use this opportunity to further increase my resilience as I wish to deliver consistent performance in various difficult conditions while maintaining professional standards. I hope to learn about my strengths and improve on weaknesses such as how to best my knowledge of multiculturalism in communicating with clients and collaborating cross-functionally with teammates despite various backgrounds. Besides sharpening my coding skills, enhance my networking, and embrace internationalism.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

The beauty of a startup is the flexibility and open space for innovation and creativity. I am a creative person and I love innovating out-of-the-box solutions and approaches. Working with a startup allows me to do just that regardless if it a way of executing tasks, working philosophy, or tools to be used to improve efficiency. My site supervisor has been a very flexible, supportive person in encouraging new idea. Working with a startup requires a person to switch between multiple hats. The daily work at a startup is beyond executing tasks in a honeycomb, but also to fly out into the forest and product honey.

What are some of your entrepreneurial goals?

It is my goal to start my own tech company. Carrying on various operations in a company is also essential knowledge for me to evaluate what I really enjoy working and what I wish to invest my whole life doing. There is no better way to learn to be an innovative entrepreneur than spending a summer following and working with an entrepreneur.

Otrafy TechnologiesWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

I join Otrafy because it is a very robust and innovative company moving at lightning speed. Its long-term vision, precise short-term focus, and flexible maneuver allow the company to be innovative in designing its solution for businesses in food industry.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

I love swimming, downhill skiing, badminton, driving, and traveling.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

I remember talking young Global Sharpers of Tokyo hub when I was in high school in Japan. All of them share one commonality in their unique individual works. That is they dedicate their energy and time working on solving issues that matter to them.

I will spend majority of my life working. I will spend majority of my life working on being a part of the solution to problem that I care about: education.

Kaitie Brown

MacNest Kaitie Brown

Graduation Year and Major: 2022

Major: Political Science and International Studies

Minor: Spanish Minor

Hometown: Lincoln, NE

Startup Pairing: UrTurn

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

I wanted to participate in the MacNest 2020 program because it’s a very unique opportunity for Macalester students to participate in the Twin Cities business ecosystem and acquire important skills that can’t be taught in the classroom. Skills like outreach, networking, communication and prioritization are learned hands-on and are increasingly important in the modern workforce.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

What I’m most excited to learn from my experience working at Ur Turn is how to work in a dynamic environment and beyond my comfortable skill set.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

The allure of working with a startup is that every day is different, and every moment is an opportunity to learn and grow. There’s no such thing as a “typical day.”

What are some of your entrepreneurial goals?

This is my first opportunity to work in the field of entrepreneurship, so right now I’m just looking forward to learning as much as possible and acquire skills that are important to a wide variety of goals!

UrTurnWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

What I find most interesting about the startup Ur Turn is that it gives students the necessary tools and transparency to achieve their goals, graduate and pursue a secondary education.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

I love being a competitor on the Macalester Mock Trial team which takes up most of my free time. When I’m not doing that, I love watching documentaries and reading.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

The most valuable piece of advice I’ve gotten about entrepreneurship is to be willing and unafraid to seek out support from others when you need.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

Blossom by Milky Chance

 

Keegan Greaney

MacNest Keegan GreaneyGraduation Year and Major: 2021, Political Science

Hometown: Bend, Oregon

Startup Pairing: Imagine Deliver

What made you want to participate in the MacNest 2020 program?

I wanted to participate in the MacNest 2020 program because it’s a great opportunity to work with a startup. I’ve always been curious about entrepreneurship and innovation. It’s a field driven by self-motivators and goal-oriented people so I knew it’d be a good fit for me.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

I hope to learn more not only about consulting but the actual day to day operations of what it takes to run a business.

What’s the allure of working with a startup?

I was attracted to work for a startup because there are so many components that go into sustaining a business. When you’re working for a startup, you aren’t limited to one aspect of the business, rather you’re forced to see the whole picture. I found that unique outlook to be really interesting.

Imagine DeliverWhat do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

The most interesting thing is the unique brand Imagine Deliver has. I’ve never seen a business operate like Imagine Deliver, its mission and values are completely congruent with mine. Not to mention, the people are great to work with.

What are some of your entrepreneurial goals?

Sometime in the far-off future I would like to start my own law firm which focuses mainly in POC communities.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

I enjoy reading, spending the day at the lake, and watching movies.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

The best advice I’ve been given is the importance of mentality. This was something that I noticed when I met the founder of Imagine Deliver, Kate Downing Khaled. It takes a lot of courage and passion to run a startup, so whatever issue that the business addresses need to be one which you are passionate about.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

I will listen to J. Cole all day, so that’s always the move.

Abby Hinds MacNest

Abby Hinds

Graduation Year and Major: 2021, Economics & Russian Studies

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Startup Pairing: Weathervane Labs

What made you want to participate in the MacNest program?

I was really interested in working with a start-up and I believed that MacNest 2020 would be to best way to get introduced with some awesome start-ups. How businesses grow and make decisions is part of my study at Macalester and I wanted to learn first-hand how that happens.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

I hope to learn more about the entrepreneurial process and how entrepreneurs develop their ideas into profitable companies.

Weathervane LabsWhat’s the allure of working with a startup?

You get to see first-hand all the work that goes into making a business successful. You are helping develop the building blocks of a successful business.

What do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

I find it really interesting that my startup is trying to create a weather app experience personalized for the user.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

I love baking, swimming, and playing video games.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

Success is not a linear path.

Alex Thomas MacNest

Alex Thomas

Graduation Year and Major: 2022, Environmental Studies with a Sustainable Design Emphasis & Studio Art

Hometown: Kerala, India

Startup Pairing: Office of Cultural Work

What made you want to participate in the MacNest program?

I was drawn to MacNest 2020 because it highlights learning as a collaborative and adaptive process through conversations as a cohort and the opportunity to work with ever-changing startups.

What are you hoping to learn during the program?

Working in a creative field brings with it a lot of uncertainty. With the added pressure of a startup and a global pandemic, I know my work with Office of Cultural Work is going to teach me to how to better navigate constantly changing environments. In using a variety of software and tools, interacting with clients from different industries, and learning to manage projects and my time, the experience will teach me a lot about myself-what I am capable of and how I can use my experiences to change the world around me.

Office of Cultural WorkWhat’s the allure of working with a startup?

Being in a small team with direct access to founders and creators allows you to learn from them in a very raw way. You learn about challenges they have faced and will face, but also have insight into how they overcome and grow in those situations.

This is a different version of organizations that I have otherwise been exposed to. In a startup, the energy around an idea is contagious and pushes you to work harder without the hurdles of bureaucracy or mitigating risk. There is a sense of fearlessness that is inherent to entrepreneurship, and that is arguably necessary for students as we begin our professional lives.

What do you find most interesting about the startup you’re working for?

The variety of work and how relevant it is to both my professional development and my values. Through projects with clients of Office of Cultural Work, I have the opportunity to develop skills in everything from web development to 3D rendering to working with power tools.

I think these experiences tie in well with wanting to become an architect-by having a range of media and tools to pull from and ideate and make. Additionally, the projects I work on are underlined by values of social and environmental justice, values that are especially important when designing buildings, cities, and environments.

What are some of your entrepreneurial goals?

I see my interests in the natural environment, social justice, and architecture manifesting in my designing environments and structures that promote a healthy relationship with nature and the community around us. It is easy for architecture to take the place of a forest and to put up walls near our neighbors, but I think good design needs to be motivated by a deeper understanding of society, one that recognizes the importance of nature and a just and inclusive community.

Outside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, what are your
hobbies?

I enjoy playing the piano, being around nature, drawing the world around me, and having food with people I love.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten
about entrepreneurship?

Be willing to learn what you don’t know.

What’s the summer jam of 2020?

Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa. Best bassline I’ve heard in a while. 😉