Melissa Mazzeo MBA/MEM 2020
Internship: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll), Lowell, Massachusetts
Hometown: Easton, Massachusetts
Favorite Yale SOM classes: Interpersonal Dynamics and Start-up Founder Practicum
Clubs and affiliations: Leader, Business & Environment Club; Sustainability coordinator; Sustainable Career Pathways coordinator; spring accelerator participant, Tsai CITY
Favorite Professor: Peter Schott
Favorite Yale SOM community event: Top Chef
Favorite New Haven eatery: Atticus Bookstore Café
EforAll is a startup accelerator for small businesses and nonprofits in mid-sized cities that have limited entrepreneurship resources. Their core program is a year-long accelerator for local entrepreneurs; they also host pitch competitions and other events. They are a leader in the inclusive entrepreneurship movement: most of the ventures that go through the program are minority-owned, woman-owned, immigrant-owned, and/or owned by people who were previously unemployed. EforAll is a nonprofit organization, so I was fortunate to receive financial support for my internship through the SOM Internship Fund.
My main project was to assess EforAll’s mentorship program and reach out to other accelerators around the country to identify areas for potential collaboration. EforAll has developed a technical tool for matching entrepreneurs with mentors, which has led to better outcomes than a manual matching process. My task was to understand how other accelerators did mentor matching, assess whether a similar solution would benefit them, and determine whether EforAll should pursue a commercialization strategy for its internal tool. I also helped EforAll think through their strategy around communications and fundraising as they work toward an ambitious expansion target (50 cities in the next 5 years). At the end of the internship, I presented my findings and made a final recommendation to EforAll’s staff at the quarterly retreat.
As an entrepreneur myself, the internship was a fantastic opportunity to get exposure to the entrepreneurship scene in my home state of Massachusetts, where I plan to return after graduating. Through my project, I connected with dozens of other startup accelerators and entrepreneurship programs across the country. I was also able to get to know the entrepreneurs participating in the program, who inspired me and motivated me to think differently about my own startup plans.
Lowell is a fascinating city. It is a National Historical Park site because of its role as a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. A lot of the old textile mills have been repurposed into art and community gathering spaces, as well as office buildings (EforAll’s headquarters are in a former mill). It is also home to the second-largest Cambodian population in the country, so I had the chance to refine my knowledge of Khmer cuisine and learn about Cambodian-American culture.