Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Ian Belkin, who worked with MUTE International in Shanghai.
I spent my summer interning at a startup in Shanghai named MUTE International. MUTE is an acronym for Multiple Urban Transport Evolution. The company provides green, energy efficient, electric scooters to consumers, eschewing ownership in favor of month-to-month usership.
The business model is similar to the WeWork or Cort models, but functions in the transportation space through an app that provides a streamlined and frictionless set-up, requiring no down payment or credit card.
My role as an intern has comprised creating cashflow and other financial projections of expected growth as well as constructing pitch decks to court potential investors in future rounds of funding.
One fear inevitably shared by participants in internships with such truncated timelines is that the challenges and responsibilities conferred upon them will be rote and lack significance. Fortunately, my personal experience at MUTE has been quite the opposite.
There exists a plethora of substantive, engaging and challenging assignments to be tackled. Since its inception, MUTE has been aggressively expanding into nascent markets and now boasts offices across three continents, in locations as diverse as London, Bali, Shanghai, Perth, and Lyon.
A large portion of my early efforts were spent investigating the financial viability of three additional proposed outlets in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City (to my great disappointment, I was not invited to participate in the on-the-ground due diligence in any of these exotic locales).
Accounting for the nuances associated with breaching new markets is an interdisciplinary exercise: marketing and scaling bleed into operations and logistics, all of which are framed and constrained by the vagaries and realities of financing.
This internship experience has provided ample opportunity to develop and meld the various core tenets of business espoused in the first year of our Olin MBA program.
Inevitably, start-ups succeed based on the unbridled passion and proclivity towards masochism of their founding members. MUTE is the brainchild of Patrick Davin, an intrepid and indefatigable Aussie with 25 years of experience in the electric scooter market and a successful IPO already to his credit.
Beyond the evolution of my technical skills, bearing consistent witness to Patrick’s inimitable enthusiasm and perseverance were the most valuable commodity I left with. Leadership, another often-touched upon trope within Olin is not only preached, but practiced on a daily basis at MUTE.
I feel fortunate to have earned the opportunity to learn directly from Patrick, and hope to impart my newly acquired wisdom upon my return to Olin and upon all future endeavors thereafter.