Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Alyssa Prince

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, senior Management/Entrepreneurship major, Alyssa Prince reflects on her internship at Kannatopia, a social media company focused on connecting the cannabis industry.

Alyssa Prince and Kurt Akers of Kannatopia.

Alyssa Prince and Kurt Akers of Kannatopia.

I have been working with Kannatopia as a business intern for the past month and a half. Kannatopia is a tech-startup and social media platform focused on connecting individual members and various medical marijuana related businesses who are interested and involved in the newly emerging cannabis industry. Our main goal is to provide users with a space to write about and share personal experiences and stories, relating to cannabis, with other like-minded people. Kannatopia’s platform features unique characteristics that differentiate it from other competitors in the cannabis-application marketplace.

As an intern at Kannatopia, I am responsible for a lot of idea generation while the company is in its beginning stages of software development. Since neither the website nor mobile application have been launched publicly to users yet, I am mainly responsible for curating different content to be placed in various parts of the company’s blog and web and mobile platforms. The day-to-day at Kannatopia starts with me working on gathering relevant contact information from various news and media authors who cover topics such as startups, technology, and/or cannabis. I have also been working on gathering any and all information on the 60 dispensary and 21 cultivation permit holders awarded to people by the Illinois government. After spending some time on this, I usually work directly with CEO, Kurt Akers on generating all sorts of different content from different blog topics to creative brand image ideas to specific content for the web and mobile application.

One of the greatest learning experiences I have taken from this internship opportunity, being on the employee end of a startup, is that it is really important for employees to feel the work they are completing is of value to the company. Assigning an employee work, when he or she does not understand exactly how it is going to benefit the company as a whole, can make the work difficult to complete. Another learning experience I will take with me from my internship is that it is essential for all teammates of a startup to be on the same page and aligned with the same mission and goals. Without this like-minded glue, a startup will run into issues because members will be unable to come to unanimous decisions pertaining to various business tasks and ideas.

The most unexpected element of my internship was the prep work that is needed to be done in order for some small task to be accomplished, which is just a small piece of the puzzle. It is unbelievably crazy how much fine detailing goes into the finding and starting a new company. I was really surprised at some of the details Kurt asked for my opinion on, in relation to either a feature or the physical design of the app or website. It would be something minuscule, but it was an aspect that actually played an important part in the overall Kannatopia platform.

My internship with Kannatopia has both inspired and reassured my plans to pursue a career in the medical cannabis industry. My internship has also helped me to layout some potential options I can take in order to accomplish my goal of eventually starting my own business. As an entrepreneur, this experience has made me realize that being a successful entrepreneur involves going out there and giving your all. There is a big difference between someone who says they are going to do something and someone who actually goes out and works for what they want. I enjoyed the industry most about my internship with Kannatopia. Getting to complete tasks relating to a subject matter that I love learning and talking about made the experience really enjoyable and easy to do.  

My piece of advice for future students working with an entrepreneurial startup internship is to make sure you have the right match between yourself and the business. Make sure your goals align with the goals of the company and then both sides will benefit in the long run.

-Alyssa Prince

Alyssa Prince at Kannatopia

SIP intern, Alyssa Prince, brushing up on her startup knowledge at Kannatopia.

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.