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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell Klafter

Learn by Doing: Banking to VC

Updated: May 5, 2020

I got my introduction to finance back in high school when I did a Columbia University summer program called "Business, Finance, & Economics". My final project encompassed the breakdown of growth-industries in the Chinese economy.


I was inspired, so I set out to learn Mandarin after my program. I figured that in order to do it right, I had to immerse myself. My high school unfortunately didn't offer Chinese, so I bought a textbook called Integrated Chinese and found an immersion program through The China Institute of NY. Through them, I spent my summer living with a host-family in Beijing, attending Yucai High School where I studied Chinese language and culture.


With some proficiency under my belt, I searched for a way to combine my interest in finance and Mandarin. I secured an internship at a boutique IB in Shanghai, where I worked in sell-side M&A. I had the opportunity to work with valuations, modeling, and advisory from a global perspective—all while using my Mandarin daily.


I spent my next summer interning at a hedge fund in Darien, CT before my first semester of college. I graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington in 2018 with a major in Public Financial Management and a certificate in Database Management Systems.


While in college, I founded and exited 2 companies. With little pocket-money, I focused on 2 things: keeping operations lean, and driving a targeted acquisition. With the help of some friends in top graphic art programs, I founded my first company. It created ad-filters and logos that enabled small businesses to advertise through social media before this feature was first-party. After going door-to-door selling this service as a pilot, I developed an attractive POC and generated some traction. It was later acquired by a primary social media company.


My second company was a solution to a simple yet widespread problem: college students rarely end up with their preferred semester-schedules. With minimal knowledge of coding, I created a simple crawler to constantly search and notify students when a slot became open to sign up for a class of their customized parameters. This included teacher rankings, grade-distribution, time-commitment, date/time, and it could auto-enroll students for a fee. A single acquisition was limiting, so it made more sense to go the licensing-route and target multiple schools.



After college, I knew I wanted to apply my experiences to the world of startups, but I didn't know where I fit at the time. I found an apprenticeship program in NYC where I could learn more about the industry. After some exposure, I moved to Silicon Valley to work as a Ventures Analyst for Plug and Play Ventures.


Today, I'm back in NYC working part-time for a family office where I focus on mid-to-late stage automotive software and technologies startups. Out of the office, I am an angel investor and advise two mobility-oriented startups (auto and drone) as well as one in the cybersecurity space. Thus, I am currently studying for my GMAT and looking into MBA programs. I am fortunate to have these experiences, and I still have much more to learn. Learning is best addressed with a humble and enthusiastic lens. Learn by doing.


 

Maxwell Klafter has worked in various fields within the finance industry. With exposure to M&A, securities, and startups; Maxwell focuses on mid-to-late stage companies in the mobility space with specialization in new technologies and software for consumer vehicles. He works part-time for a private equity family-office in the NYC area. With expanding track record, experience with valuations, and a can-do attitude, Maxwell brings an array of investments through proprietary dealflow for a sustainable and responsible future.

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