Recent Georgia Tech graduates Stephen Ralph Jr. and Sims Pettway had a foot in entrepreneurship years before launching their latest venture, Canary.
Prior to heading to Georgia Tech to study Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering respectively, they both had built up independent drone videography and photography businesses while in high school.
“That definitely got me hooked on entrepreneurship from an early age. I loved the concept of being able to create something yourself and selling it to someone who is willing to pay you a premium for you to do it,” Pettway told Hypepotamus. “That small business evolved into a love of startups, venture capital, and the whole world of entrepreneurship once I got to Atlanta.”
Like most Georgia Tech students, Pettway made his way through several internships and spent time at Cox Communications, Engage, and ultimately Bain.
His summer internship at Bain was so positive that he went on to accept a full-time offer there in October. But he knew from speaking to classmates that his experience with Bain Atlanta was not necessarily the standard internship experience people got at other companies.
“What we heard, more than we thought was appropriate, was that our roommates or friends were coming back from [their respective internships] over the summer disappointed.”
Ralph and Pettway saw an opportunity to build a student-focused internship review platform for those looking to land a dream position at a coveted corporation like Delta, NASA, or Google.
As Canary grows, the team sees it as a key platform for providing companies insight into what it takes to attract top collegiate tech talent.
“Unlike an Indeed or LinkedIn, we have a user base that’s much more proactive,” Pettway added. “We have high caliber students who really care about their careers, are really out for the best internships, and are the most deliberate about their internship experiences. That’s a great subset of students for employers to target.”
Building out a database of reviews means the team has been collecting valuable insight into what students are really looking for in a summer internship or co-op position. “One insight we gleaned is that students care much more about the actual impact of their work or project more than their hourly pay or salary for the summer. There was a very strong correlation between the impact of their work and whether they accepted a full-time offer,” he added.
Canary has grown out beyond Georgia Tech and now has registered users on 100 campuses.
While narrowing in on their competitive advantage and business model through the Georgia Tech Create-X program, Pettway said the team found early growth success by posting on Reddit. “The type of student who’s going to be on a school subreddit is absolutely the type of student who’s going to take the time to write a review and share their opinion on an internship review site,” he told Hypepotamus. “The demographic overlap is almost 100%.”
Pettway believes that Canary is a great “step one” for students exploring what internship opportunities are available in their field of interest. “We get the most fulfillment out of the business when we hear the anecdotes of students who have taken internships because of students they connected with on Canary. If you leave a review, you can really be part, in a small way, of changing someone’s life and changing their career.”
Pettway said he feels confident having one foot in the corporate world and in the startup space this early in his career because of the support he’s received from Bain.
“[Bain] has been very supportive of Canary, and has been such an incredible environment with a lot of really interesting people. Bain Atlanta specifically has produced a lot of really awesome entrepreneurs, like Nick Miller of Gather and the Plaid co-founders,” he said. “I knew I could pursue my passion for startups while getting a great experience at Bain.”