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Startup Life: Kay Wu ’20 at Swyft, Inc

The downstairs lobby.

For the winter 2018 quarter (and my second co-op), I joined the staff of Swyft, Inc., a business to business (B2B) startup that focuses on making high-end automated retail machines. Within my role as an (neutral) intern, I was not specifically assigned to a particular department. This lent a level of flexibility for my learning experience and helped me understand how this startup works as an end-to-end provider. In three short months, I was able to work with Client Services, Operations, and Marketing, giving me a broader exposure to the totality of a business than I have ever experienced.

I can’t post any detailed pictures of the workplace, but let me describe my minimalist cubicle (yes, a cubicle). There is a desk with two monitors attached to my laptop while a variety of scrap paper, Post-its, pens, the occasional roll of tape from Client Services, my “TVTimes” coffee mug, skin cream, a water bottle, and the occasional candy wrapper. At most, I had another monitor added to my cubicle and several cardboard boxes by my chair for shipping purposes.

Something near my workplace.

Swyft is located in the Financial District of San Francisco, and is within a gaggle of offices, expensive real estate venues, Fedex outposts, and lunch places. I often brought lunch to work, given that the most inexpensive snack at Lee’s Deli costs 5 dollars and most meals costs around 11 dollars for a basic meal. There’s also a fascinating place called “Eatsa” nearby. You pay 10 dollars for a microwaved salad meal without any human interaction. Just fascinating.

Kinda sums up SF, as this is expensive and appeals to rich hippies.

As I mentioned above, my work at Swyft was often in different departments. For instance, I sometimes worked out of a warehouse to help the Operations team with firmware testing and product testing, which gave me a more in depth perspective on how Swyft machines worked and the processes before a machine launch at the final location. I also wrote internal manuals to assist Client Services and other departments; and even helped organize the logistics of a machine move-out for a recent trade show Swyft was doing. That day, I was working with my colleague to help several of our machines sent out by nightfall while coordinating with the movers on getting the machines (physically) out from the 2nd floor to the basement. I also worked on sell sheets for the Marketing department, which strengthened my Microsoft Word layout skills. I also worked on contract review for a good half of the co-op, until my duties were needed elsewhere and other priorities were coming up.

This co-op has helped me change my life and give a better understanding of what working at a startup entails. This experience was just fascinating; I hope the best for Swyft and its employees.

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