Business Environment in San Francisco

It is well known that San Francisco is the home of many big companies. Besides the high technology industry, the finance industry is also an essential part of the local business. As a student studying in the college of business administration, I work in the finance industry. The financial district is an area near the apartment I am living in, and I just took public transportation there in the morning. This district is one of the most developed neighbourhood in San Francisco, and it includes all six San Francisco Fortune 500 companies. The company that I will work for, A-Force Ventures, is also located in this district.

A-Force Ventures is an early-stage fund investing in consumer internet and mobile startups led by women. Since technology is developing very fast nowadays and mobile apps have become more and more necessary for everyone’s use in daily life, more people want to have a finger in the pie. Thus, placing a high value on the consumer internet and mobile application, A-Force Ventures focuses on and invest in this field. As a seed fund, the company has limited resources to invest. However, the business and companies they invest do not need a large sum of money to start up. The whole company largely depends on the CEO. The leader seeks potential investment opportunities, and the team analyzes the risks and returns. After getting the assessment, the investor’s board, including the CEO, vote to decide whether to invest.

As a student majoring in Finance and Accounting, I have an overview of the key skills and knowledge that I should have to work successfully in this industry. To analyze investment opportunities, I should know how to have access to accurate and useful information. Since A-Force Ventures focuses on the startups, it is not possible for analysts to gain data about the companies in the data in the past. Therefore, this is somewhat different from what I learn in the investment management class, assessing the current situation by looking at the past and present financial reports. Instead, I should analyze the whole industry and the market to forecast the potential returns in the future. 

Besides the skill of trying to get accurate data, I should also master good presentation skills. During the last semester at Pitt, I improved these skills and abilities by taking the Business Communication Course. Delivering a clear presentation with the most useful information is the most efficient way to present the assessment to investors and persuade them. However, it is not easy to achieve this goal. For example, some potential investors are not people with professional background and knowledge. Therefore, using complicated words and sentences to explain facts is not an effective way. It is also important to add enough data to make an assessment reliable but not overwhelming. 

Last but not least, networking skills and communication skills are essential. These two skills are inevitable for most people working in the finance service industry. Talking to potential investors, I should try to clearly understand their required returns and risks that they are willing to take. Chatting with people wanting to receive investment, I am able to know their business plans. Without these two factors, it is difficult for me to offer suitable investment opportunities and analysis.

Since I am still working in the U.S., there will not be a lot of differences. However, I believe the west coast and the east coast have some differences in the business culture. A very simple but typical culture difference is that people on the west coast usually go to work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is later than people on the east coast. I was also told that the communication ways are different between east coast and west coast. For instance, people living on the west coast are not as direct as the people on the east coast. It is also crucial for me to adapt to different networking ways, such as go biking with clients and colleagues to improve the relationships and gain credibility. To sum up, the culture difference still plays an important part in different areas in the U.S., and I will try my best to get used to a different culture as soon as possible.

In short, I look forward to my internship in San Francisco, a city different from Pittsburgh. I am also excited to explore more about this city, the interesting places and delicious foods. My internship will start tomorrow, and I will post more thoughts next week!