In early December, Crafted Capital, a boutique middle market investment banking firm, embarked on a mission to find viable financiers for a renewable energy client. They turned to students to help.
As a two-year-old business with a lean full-time team, the company was keen to bring a cohort of interns on board to assist with the project. The only problem was that management had very little time to recruit, train and manage them.
That’s when the Houston-based firm, which primarily serves clients across various industries - including logistics, healthcare, cannabis, technology, oil & gas services - partnered with Paragon One to recruit a team of students from all over the world to work remotely on their project.
The remote externs were tasked with helping raise capital by researching sources of investment for a series of waste-to-value plants that would use new, green technology to convert waste tires and plastic into global commodities.
Over eight weeks, the students essentially began their investment banking careers online, working collaboratively under the supervision of a program manager from Paragon One, to comb through private equity, credit, infrastructure and sovereign wealth funds, before presenting their final recommendations to the team at Crafted Capital. Throughout the project, they also attended webinars with Crafted Capital leadership to learn about the business and career paths in the sector and interacted directly with the founder of the client company, to better understand their priorities.
Amit Gupta, managing partner and founder of Crafted Capital, tells us why they partnered with Paragon One to give students remote externships - twice.
What was the main reason you signed Paragon One on to run a remote externship for you?
We’re a young company with a lot on our hands, so there’s always a bunch of work I could use interns for, but I really don’t have the time and energy to source, train and manage them. The fact that Paragon One could take that over seemed like a really cool opportunity for me to outsource the management part, but still derive a lot of value from the work.
Do you actually plan on using the research and ideas that students came up with during the externship?
Definitely! I had a new client I was going to be raising money for and they worked in an industry that I was familiar with, but I hadn’t really kept up with the latest players over the last few years. I wanted to build a database of all these potential capital sources and the project encompassed a truly global search. Being able to sift through the thousands of names would’ve taken me an inordinate amount of time. And the externs came up with a sample of good, actionable companies that I hadn’t heard of.
What was the group of students that worked on your externship like?
Paragon One recruited a huge mix. There were students from both high school and college, from all over the world - they really ran the whole spectrum in terms of background.
The format of the remote externship really served as an eight week long interview process, with a very tangible output per student to evaluate at the end. And because of that, I would consider hiring the top performers for a longer internship or full time role in future. At the end of the externship, I can honestly say that the students were doing work I’d expect from a full time analyst.
You’ve signed up for Paragon One to run a second externship on a new project. Why did you make that decision and how is this one different?
Yes! It’s definitely because we had such a great experience with the results from the first one. I got a fair amount of work in a quick amount of time.
With the new project, the students are only about a week or so in and it involves researching global sources of funding for the CBD industry. I thought it would be really topical work and it’s an interesting space that’s growing by the day. You turn every street corner in the United States and you see CBD everywhere. It seemed like a good way to give students an understanding of the kind of research they’d need to do from a middle market investment banking perspective, but it’s also data we’re really keen on seeing.
Where do you feel you derived the most value from having Paragon One act as an interface between you and the student externs?
As I mentioned, my main reason for choosing to work with Paragon One was because my team and I didn’t have the time to run a whole internship program on our own. And they saved us more than just the time spent managing student externs.
Paragon One also did the lion’s share of the work when it came to understanding what output we wanted from the project.
I worked with Meghann Wu from their team, who listened to what can only be described as stream-of-consciousness style directions and turned that into a clear externship project that students could understand and deliver on. And then she mentored students through the whole process, so we just received these great results at the end.
The Paragon One offering is really very unique and I’m excited to see where the company is headed. I actually regularly recommend the program to other people in my network!