Phoebe Tran ’16, Prescription Advisory Systems and Technology

Phoebe-TranMy Princeternship at PAST Inc. this Spring Break was a valuable and memorable experience. For three days, I was able to become an integral part of this technology and healthcare startup, founded by Mr. Joe Studholme ’84.

A newly established company, PAST Inc. has its headquarter in the recently furnished office space on Nassau Street. A week before our official Princeternship, another Princetern, John Su ’16, and I were invited to the office for an introductory meeting with Mr. Studholme. With warm orange lights, PAST Inc. offices bear a welcoming atmosphere, professional but at the same time friendly. We greeted Mr. Studholme and were introduced to Katrina Maxcy ’15, who is working at the company as a research analyst. Mr. Studholme first told us about his Princeton career, and his decision to join a startup company and become a part of the budding technology entrepreneurship scene in the U.S. during the mid-1980s. He then discussed his own entrepreneurial endeavors, which resulted in the successful creation, development and sale of Restricted Stocks Company at the beginning of 2000s. After this, Mr. Studholme began to inform us on the business model of PAST Inc., which was founded in response to the growing issues of prescription drug abuse and the resulted concerns over the patient-physician relationship that affects healthcare quality. The company’s product analyzes data concerning the history of prescription drug purchases of residents in certain states and informs physicians who are treating these patients whether they are abusing, or have the prospect of abusing prescription drugs. The hour-long meeting laid the foundation for my market research project during the Princeternship.

The first day:
With quiet excitement, John and I arrived at the office at 10 am, preparing to meet the company staff and learn more about entrepreneurship. We got to choose our own working desks and were given a tour around the office by Ms. Davitt, the office manager. We also met Mr. Schultz and Ms. Hartz, the two other members of the office staff. At 10:30, the company staff gathered in the conference room, where Mr. Studholme explained the plan he had in mind for the two Princeterns.

Tran 1

John Su ’16 and I working on our market analysis report.

We were to complete a market analysis project in three days and gave a presentation on our findings on the last day to the company’s board and staff members. We were assigned the responsibility of compiling relevant data from a DEA report and other information sources on states’ Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in the US. We then devised a scoring algorithm to evaluate each state’s market potential and ranked them according to these preliminary scores. At 1 pm, we went out for lunch with Mr. Bayazitoglu, the company’s attorney, and talked to him about his position and also his career choice. John and I finished a productive first day with a comprehensive report.

The second day:
Knowing my way around the company and the appointed tasks, I felt more comfortable and prepared to continue to tackle the project Mr. Studholme asked us to do. By this time, I had also learned a lot about not only the company’s product but also the day-to-day operations of the company. The staff convened again that morning to discuss the newly designed business card and logo of the company, a task seemingly simple yet it required a lot of careful consideration. During this day, the two Princeterns plunged back into research and were given an incredible amount of independence in deciding research method and process. The task on the second day turned out to be much more complicated than the first, and we had to come up with a reasonable and effective scoring algorithm that could add on to the results of the day before. With thoughtful guidance from the staff, we again ended the second day with success, learning the hardship and excitement of market analysis. I was thrilled to present our report to the company the next day.

The final day:
On the last day of our Princeternship, since we had completed our reports, Tran 2John and I spent time in the morning revising and improving our data tables and written reports and thought about our afternoon presentation. After lunch, Mr. Studholme set up a Web conference for the Princeterns to present our research findings. We got to know a few more members of the company’s staff and the co-founder of PAST Inc. The presentation went smoothly and our report would be used to consider the future direction of the company’s operations and research.

This Princeternship gave me a wonderful opportunity to have an inside look at a startup in its early development. Thanks to Mr. Studholme, who created this opportunity for Princeton students, and the company staff, who welcomed us so warmly.  I was able to learn about the decision making process of the executives, about market targeting, about the market research necessary to help these considerations, and the working culture and environment within a technology startup. The experience, as a whole, informed me about the process of creating and managing an entrepreneurial business, which I aspire to do or be a part of in the future. I would like to thank Career Services for this wonderful internship program and again Mr. Joe Studholme for this invaluable experience.