What did you do this summer? In this series, Laurie Toth asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they applied the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.
Liam Bartlett ’23
Internship: Pyramidia Ventures, Kenya
Hometown: Syracuse, New York
Preferred pronouns: he/him/his
Clubs and affiliations: Business Students for Racial Equity; Private Equity & Venture Capital Club; Tsai CITY portfolio manager; Internship Fund
Favorite SOM class: Private Capital & Impact Investing
Favorite SOM professor: Susan Carter
Favorite New Haven eatery: House of Naan
Favorite thing you do in New Haven or SOM to unwind: Listening to music on a long walk/hike
Bonus fact: I recently partnered with Yale-affiliated peers outside the School of Management to start a health-tech startup (EnlighteN) committed to the design of a discreet, wearable biosensor that can immediately detect opioid overdose events and notify first responders of the wearer’s location and key health metrics.
Africa’s food systems need to be transformed to feed a growing population in the face of climate change. My internship this summer at Pyramidia Ventures—a purpose-led venture builder of climate positive agrifood startups, based out of Nairobi, Kenya, and serving the African consumer—gave me firsthand insight into this challenge. Pyramidia Ventures’ mission is to build an ecosystem of sustainable agrifood businesses that can feed a growing population while restoring our planet.
A good friend of mine at Yale SOM, Roshni Walia ’23, knew that I was interested in venture capital, entrepreneurship, and emerging markets. Roshni put me in contact with the co-founder of Pyramidia, whom she worked with several years back at McKinsey. I choose this internship because it gave me the unique opportunity to act as both the investor and the entrepreneur in the exciting and emerging Kenyan market.
I worked very closely with one of Pyramidia’s more successful ventures, Womega, to help define the operating model and to grow the business. I would regularly travel to our aquafarm in west Kenya, on Lake Victoria, where I led process improvement trials in hopes of advancing our product’s quality. Additionally, I designed teaser materials in preparation for pre-Series A pitches to potential investors. Most notably, I learned the key differences of starting a business and raising capital in an emerging market compared to the U.S.
SOM has given me the opportunity to work with exciting entrepreneurs, both within Yale and through VC fellowships/competitions. These relationships have exposed me to the many challenges faced when starting a business and helped prepare me to think like an entrepreneur ahead of my time with the Pyramidia venture builder. Additionally, I regularly called on the learnings from my MGT 891 ‘Private Capital & Impact Investing’ course. In this class, I learned what institutional investors look for in their impact related investments. This helped me inform my decisions when designing our portfolio company’s Pre-Series A pitch deck materials.
There was an immensely strong and supportive expatriate community based in Nairobi, Kenya for the summer. I had the unique pleasure of meeting and exploring Kenya with 50+ expats from across the globe and numerous local Kenyans who I became close friends with. Many of which are pursuing their graduate degrees from prestigious global programs.
Outside the professional benefits of the summer, the internship also granted me the opportunity to thoroughly explore East Africa for the first time in my life. During the summer, I went on four advanced hikes (including Mt. Kilimanjaro—the highest peak in Africa) and two safaris, toured a new Kenyan private city designed to sustain and accelerate economic growth for Kenyans of all income levels, and much more!
My internship was truly a unique experience that allowed me to learn new professional skills, reflect on the priorities in my personal life, and to explore a part of the world that was culturally rich and new to me.
Liam Bartlett is a recipient of the Linnie and Michael Katz ’76 Fund for Yale SOM Student Travel and Research.