Working For a Startup While Running My Own (Intern Files #006)

Ashton Keys, RideHop, 2017 HF Intern

Ashton Keys, RideHop, 2017 HF Intern

When I began working for Ridehop, I saw it as an opportunity to learn about how a startup works in the real world and what it takes for the startup to be successful. What I didn’t think about was how working for Ridehop would directly affect my company Ninety6 and ultimately change the trajectory of my entire life.

Let's start off by discussing my Internship and my experience at RideHop because it has been a great experience so far! Since RideHop is a Quicken Loans (QL) family company, on my first day I had to participate in the Jump Start event, required of all new hires. It was all day and they talked about the basic things that employees should know about QL. Some of it was relevant, a lot was not because technically my company is apart of the family but we have our own system of doing things. Overall it was a fun event, super high production value and I got to meet various summer interns. Once I finished we went to my office and began getting my laptop set-up which took about 2 hours and 5 people. Once I walked in on day two I had a meeting set up with our developer and 2016 Hacker Fellow, Phillip to discuss our company and what they expect me to work on. This amazed me because usually at jobs it's maybe a training period of just learning the company and how it works but my official first work day I was given tasks to work on.

The thing that I admire the most about this is that Phillip asked me what’s my opinion of our platforms. I could tell they wanted to get a fresh and new/different perspective. That Friday I had to present my Landscape Analysis of our suite of products. This basically looked at our current infrastructure and give feedback on what works and what doesn’t work before developing a new product.

After the Landscape Analysis I started a content strategy, which is a guideline that all our platforms will adhere too in order to make sure we have consistency across each product. In addition, I also took lead on the redesign of our marketing website.

What I value the most is that I can directly see my impact on the company with the launch of the website redesigned and soon and my guidelines for the new apps will be implemented.

While doing all of this, I somehow managed to scrape time together to work on my fashion business. I have always been a busy person especially in college working four jobs with classes. So while some people may spend their lunch breaks going to the park or the food trucks. I am usually on phone calls handling some business related activity (we call it “making moves”).

I have to do weekly meetings with my Fashion Incubator, and I have to call my production company frequently to make sure product is right. All this in conjunction with emailing back and forth sourcing fabrics. Right after this Internship ends I have a fashion show on the Lansing Capital Region International Airport Runway then I will be running a pop up store July 18-30th at 12 Oaks Mall. This may seem like a lot but I it is my life.

There have been a lot of things, inside and outside of work that I did not expect when I began this Internship. I came into the Internship very observant. I find that it’s easier to watch someone's habits rather than ask questions to see what makes them successful. So there are lot small things my CEO teaches me without us even communicating. Things such as making connections at events and how to approach those connections. I watched my CEO take out every business card he had and notes about each encounter and then set up a game plan on how to follow-up. He ranked which were most to least important. This showed me how B2B is about your relationships. I saw this when we began planning for the CTAA Expo that I participated in. I also learned things we do at the company for accountability such as daily standups and weekly show and tells.

Outside of work I have been amazed by the thriving start-up community that this Internship Introduced me too at least twice a week I am attending a new startup event. Whether it’s TechWeek, Detroit Demo Day, Bamboo Detroit, OR  Lifeline. I have really engaged myself and became active in the startup community. Through this engagement I have met some amazing people and it has really changed my outlook on what I want to do after I graduate.

Although I grew up in Detroit and lived here my entire life I had never been exposed to the startup community. We can definitely not plan on me moving to California to be successful. Being back in Detroit, getting involved helped me regain my love for my city and also showed me the avenues economic avenues in Detroit. Based on discussions with people in different organizations my plan is to utilize programs such as Motor City Match, Hatch Detroit, Invest Detroit, and Detroit Development Fund to be a native Detroiter involved in the revitalization process.


Ashton Keys, 2017 Hacker Fellows Intern, currently a rising Senior at Michigan State University studying Experience Architecture. He is working with RideHop for Summer 2017.