Being an Intern at a Start-up: Personal Experience  

Dimitri Raziev22 Mar 20225 mins

Kolleno is a London-based start-up helping businesses to get paid faster. Delayed payments are a struggle that businesses face regardless of the size or the industry. Getting paid later than the deadline (30, 60, or 90 days) can cause troubles with cash flow and in the worst-case scenario lead to challenges of paying your own operational expenses. Kolleno is an AI-powered SaaS solution that helps businesses to overcome the problem of delayed payments and reduce the waiting time of receiving payment.  

Kolleno is proud to offer paid internship opportunities for bright interns who would like to dive into the exciting world of tech start-ups and get some practical skills.  

In summer 2021, Vir Khullar, the president of LSESU Fintech Society has completed an internship at Kolleno and have kindly agreed to answer a few questions by our CEO Dimitri Raziev, to get us to understand the value we provide for aspiring students, but also share some insights for future candidates.  

D.: How did you find the internship opening at Kolleno?  

V.: I knew exactly what kind of work I wanted to do during my first official summer internship. I had the ambition to experience a more spontaneous working environment with an early-stage company. 

I have connected on LinkedIn with a co-founder of Kolleno, and I have sent him my CV. After our initial conversation, I was offered to complete a case study. Which I have successfully presented and was given an offer eventually.  

D.: Did you know that overdue payments are an issue for SMEs? 

V.: I knew that the late payments were a problem. However, I understood the real scale after my internship, of course. I had an opportunity to work with clients and it appears that late payments are a drawback for businesses’ financial stability. The data shows that cash flow struggles are the main cause of why SMEs fail in the UK.  

D.: Please share what responsibilities you had during your internship with Kolleno?  

V.: Due to the fact that Kolleno is a start-up, I have explored different sides of the business such as marketing, got involved in the initial sales processes and even got a taste of internal affairs, such as mediating and branding. Also, because Kolleno was in the process of securing funding round I got to liaise with institutional and angel investors.  

I was given an opportunity to work across different departments and tasks, and it was up to me to decide which tasks I wanted to dive deeper into. In the meantime, the core team was ready to support me and share their expertise whenever I needed it.  

D.: How different is an internship with a start-up such as Kolleno, as opposed to an established internship program with a big corporation? 

V.: The key difference, in my opinion, is that you have a lot more control over what exactly you want to work on. Also, because the company is small, it is a more collegial work environment – it was much easier to integrate. Despite being with a company for just a few months, I felt like I had made an impact and it will have a lasting effect, which is hard to achieve with a big corporation.  

D.: What skills did you acquire for your future?  

V.: This was my first formal experience, so I got a taste of how it is to interact in a real business setting with professionals. I feel that this experience helped me to learn how to outreach people. Which is a huge asset for me in my university life, especially at running the LSE Fintech Society.  

Besides that, I have enhanced my research skills. Especially when I got to interview CFOs and other senior staff at different firms. I focused on how their work processes have improved due to the financial and technological disruption.  

Despite Kolleno being heavily specialised in credit control and payments, I got a lot of exposure to various sides of the fintech industry. Because it is such an interlinked community and also thanks to London being a fintech hub of the world. Now, I definitely understand better what do I want to do in the future.  

D.: What skills that you had were especially helpful during your experience? 

V.: At Kolleno I had an opportunity to apply what I have known through my academic life. Also I had a chance to test it in the business world.  However, I also had to find new ways of doing things.  

The real-business experience has helped me to understand that I can achieve great results. I just need to plan a course of action. I have taken that confidence with me back to university. Now I am more efficient in finding the means how to organise any given project or initiative.  

D.:What surprised you during your time with Kolleno? 

V.: I think I didn’t anticipate the amount of exposure that I would receive at Kolleno to the business processes and even involvement in Kolleno’s procedure of securing the seed funding. The VC investors were coming into the office almost every week. I had an opportunity to participate in these discussions. 

Also, the team was very established and had a great network. This was an amazing opportunity for me to build relationships with professionals.  

D.: Would you recommend your fellow students apply to the internship at Kolleno?  

V.: First, it is important to decide for yourself what do you want to get out of the experience. For example, some jobs are far more structured, with a consistent set of KPIs to achieve weekly or daily goals. Others, on the other hand, are more spontaneous.  

Secondly, it is necessary to decide, how much independence, creativity, and “finding new ways of doing things” is the right amount for you.  

Thirdly, if you take a job at a start-up, you should really believe in their idea of solving a real-world problem. With that belief, you will be able to perform creatively and offer new ways of achieving things. At a start-up, each person is expected to perform much more than is written in the job description and when you have that “drive” you will succeed.  

I have always considered myself a self-starter be it in my university life, or my personal life. The internship with Kolleno has actually shown me how much I am capable of, the solutions that I have come up with when solving different tasks or finding ways to engage the team to help me solve challenges. Therefore, I am extremely thankful for this experience as it has strengthened my confidence and improved my skills.  

D.: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Kolleno. We are always looking to add more interns to our team, the application can be accessed on our website.