Pranav Kanchi on NYU EEG

An interview with Pranav Kanchi, the President of NYU EEG, on what programs they run, how students can get involved, and more.
February 18, 2024
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Background

Pranav Kanchi is a 4th-year student at NYU studying finance and computer science. He is the President of NYU EEG, the entrepreneurial exchange group. NYU EEG is an entrepreneurship, tech, and venture capital club for NYU students. I talked with Pranav about their programming, what they look for when selecting students for the startup and investing teams, and more.

Highlights

  • NYU EEG tries to understand how you think and what you are passionate about during the application process to its startup and investing teams. You don’t need any prior experience in entrepreneurship, tech, or VC to be considered.

  • NYU EEG guarantees an internship for its students who join the startup team, so students in the program can receive hands-on experience the semester after they go through the cohort-based program. Some startups they have partnered with include Rillavoice (backed by LAUNCH) and Orangewood (backed by YC).

  • NYU EEG is focused on broadening its exposure to the NYU tech ecosystem by hosting hackathons, multi-school events, and notable people in its speaker series.

Interview Transcription

Kieran: Thanks, Pranav, for joining me today. Do you want to introduce yourself?

Pranav: Hi, I’m Pranav. I’m a senior studying finance and computer science at NYU, and I’m the President of NYU EEG, which stands for the Entrepreneurial Exchange Group. We’re the big entrepreneurship, tech, and venture capital club on campus.

Kieran: How did you first learn about NYU EEG?

Pranav: Yeah, my first year was during COVID. I was sitting at home online. Throughout high school, I worked on several different businesses — building apps, selling shoes, etc. So, I knew entrepreneurship was somewhere in my cards and interests, and the same with tech. I did some computer science research. So, when I was looking for different clubs and organizations to join online and join the NYU community, EEG stood out as that intersection of everything I was interested in. Since then, I haven’t really looked back.

Kieran: NYU EEG has three programs: weekly general meetings open to all NYU students, and a startup and investing team available to NYU students accepted into the organization. Can you give an overview of the three programs?

Pranav: Yeah, you gave a great overview on it, but to dive a little deeper into it — so we have our general meeting that’s open to everyone. We try to bring in cool speakers, people we think could gain a lot from talking to the NYU entrepreneurship scene, and students could come in and learn from different perspectives. For example, we brought in Luke Antal from Alumni Ventures, Cory and Baylor from Z Fellows, Lando from Pareto, and cool people in the NY tech scene to talk about entrepreneurship, what their experience is like, or if they are in venture capital what they’re looking for when investing. Then, we have those two teams that you mentioned — the startup and investing teams. Those are designed to be crash courses into the startup, tech, and VC world. So, for the startup team, that’s more of how do I go from knowing absolutely nothing but being super interested in making a startup to having the foundational skills so that when you build your startup, you understand terms like CAC, LTV, etc. You’re able to converse with venture capitalists and know what the general framework of starting a company is like. On the other hand, the investing team is the venture capital-focused program. That is understanding what venture capitalists do and what they look for in companies. So, if that’s a career path you’re interested in, students right out of college can start looking at companies because they are connected to the larger tech ecosystem. 

Kieran: You have to apply to join the startup and investing teams. Can you give an overview of the process and what you’re looking for when selecting students?

Pranav: It changes from year to year. It is a bit tough because every year, as these programs grow, we get many more opportunities. They also tend to become more selective, and that’s just a byproduct of having only so many people in the club who can serve as mentors, and we don’t want to overextend ourselves. One time that I forgot to mention as well, for the teams, we do this consulting placement where we guarantee each new member an internship in the startup world, and that kind of helps you break in and get that first experience. So, in terms of what we look for and what the process is like — it starts with a written application. That is standard for all NYU clubs or NYU Stern Clubs. From there, there are usually one or two rounds of interviews, depending on how many applications we receive. In terms of what we’re looking for, the number one thing we want to emphasize is we don’t look for any background knowledge whatsoever. We won’t ask super technical questions about Instacart’s Series E round or anything like that, right? We’re looking to understand how you think and what you’re interested in and try to have a conversation around that. For example, when I interviewed the lead of our current investing team, we just talked about soccer. I could tell he dives in super deep when he gets interested in something. He also was a huge basketball fan, so he wrote a book about basketball. So, if they’re interested in entrepreneurship, we give them a little edge, like here is your way into the community, and they take it and run with it. That’s really all we can look and ask for from candidates.

Kieran: You mentioned numbers are limited for the startup and investing teams. How many people are on the teams?

Pranav: Any given year, it’s between 4-15 people. It just depends on how many good and very interested candidates we get.

Kieran: When do you recruit for the startup and investing teams?

Pranav: We do it every semester, and it’s open to all schools at NYU. We’ve even had PhDs join our programs.

Kieran: I think the hands-on experience is a really cool aspect of your organization. Who are some of your partners on the startup or investing sides?

Pranav: We have a couple. One is called Orangewood. They’re a YC-backed company. Another one where I went through the consulting program with was called Rillavoice. They’re backed by LAUNCH and one of the Co-Founders of UiPath. These are pretty good starting startup experiences. They are pretty small teams and are still growing really fast. It’s the kind of thing where you jump in, learn a lot, and receive a lot of responsibility right out of the gate, which is great to transfer to other roles later down the line.

Kieran: On the website, it seems like consulting, but you kind of described it as an internship. Is it an internship or are you an external member giving advice to startups or a VC firm? How is it structured actually?

Pranav: The closest comparison would be an internship. The term consulting may be misleading. The idea is that you’re placed with these teams and an intern. Almost everyone works with their consulting partner for 6-7 months, so it’s much closer to an internship.

Kieran: What do you see as the biggest opportunities to improve NYU EEG?

Pranav: I think one of the things we’ve been working a lot on internally is just connecting with the broader NYU entrepreneurship tech scene. That’s through a few things we have planned, like hackathons or multi-school events. Across the board, I think the NYU tech scene is still growing and hasn’t caught up to SF, but it’s huge, and we need to take advantage of our proximity to the incredible people and companies here.

– now, let’s transition to questions to help students who want to join the NYU EEG internal team –  

Kieran: It looked like on your website, many of the people on the internal team went through the programs themselves. Is that how you recruit for the internal team, or can people apply directly?

Pranav: The actual process for joining the e-board is to go through the teams. The first semester will be spent participating in the teams and learning the content. The second semester will be the consulting program or internship, where you get much more experience. Then, right after, people tend to join the e-board, and that is more of a way to give back and help facilitate and grow the programs.

Kieran: How big is the internal team at NYU EEG?

Pranav: I believe it is ~15 people.

Kieran: Is there anything I didn’t ask about that is important to know if you’re considering NYU EEG as a student founder or someone who wants to join the internal team?

Pranav: One thing that sets EEG apart is that it’s not just entrepreneurship-focused, tech, or just VC. I don’t think there is one professional category that defines us. It really is just a group of people who are interested in this stuff and willing to go out there, make that work, and approach it from all different fields. We have people with wacky interests, from supersonic planes to ultrasound technology, but the uniting factor is that everyone is super passionate about what they do. If you’re a student really passionate about something, that’s the type of person we look for and think would make an excellent fit for us.