Watching the World Behind a Startup
The summer after my first year at Hamilton, I was lucky enough to score an internship at a small promising start up company called Analog/Shift (A/S). Recently moved into their new Upper East side Manhattan office space, A/S is just starting to make its mark on the vintage watch industry.
For two months, I was fortunate enough to work in the heart of this first-of-its-kind vintage watch dealership. In an office of only eight full-time employees, I bounced around departments doing daily tasks and assignments while building a picture of the functioning business machine in front of me. The differing levels and responsibilities necessary to operate a business soon became apparent. At the basic (and often intern-designated) level of the company is office management. Working with the single office manager, I boxed inventory to be shipped, set up shop daily by putting watches on display, brought dozens of watches in for repairs, and traveled to customers for cash purchases of inventory.
However, of the dozens of watches that moved through my hands, none would have budged without the efforts of the sales team. Although every member of the A/S team sold our watches at all possible moments (me included!), a designated salesman existed with a more comprehensible vintage watch knowledge than any existing database. With the help of the entire team under his watch (no pun intended), inventory moved between us, customer, and vice versa, allowing the cashflow necessary to operate.
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At this level of the company also exists a photographer who cataloged and posted inventory online, allowing for A/S’s greatest source of sales. At this point, one would assume that that’s enough to operate a watch dealership. However, there is also a CFO, COO, CEO, and founder. All of these positions held different responsibilities and operations essential to the success of the company, and without one, the rest would fail.
By working in such a small company and being able to see the larger picture of operational structure, I was able to learn about and experience the intricacies necessary to cohere and drive a profitable business. While the larger picture of a company, such as selling vintage watches, is good to know, it is important to not overlook or take for granted the specialization of labor and operational efficiency needed to be implemented to run a successful company.
Tristan Chaix ’20 grew up in Manhattan and attended Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut where he was a squash captain, school monitor, dorm monitor, and class committee co-head. At Hamilton, he is majoring in economics and minoring in mathematics, is a member of the men’s squash team, and rush chair for Psi Upsilon. He is also a member of Chess Club and Meditation Club. Last summer, he worked as an intern at a vintage watch startup Analog/Shift with Sam Matlick ’17. This summer he will be working at Headway Capital Partners in London.