Cortado Ventures Investment Intern Brooks Hensley reflects on his experience from his eight-month internship.

(L-R) Investment Intern Aaron Salazar Latham, Investment Analyst Mansi Patel, Boddle Learning Co-Founders Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, and Investment Analyst Brooks Hensley

This is the first part of a two part series by our Summer 2022 interns Brooks Hensley and Aaron Salazar Latham.

TLDR: What is Cortado Ventures Internship program exactly?

The Cortado Ventures internship program allows interns to gain real experience working on a venture capital investment team. Interns are responsible for due diligence, meeting with entrepreneurs, taking part in investment team meetings, and working to advance the success of the Oklahoma entrepreneurial community.

Cortado interns are encouraged to utilize any prior skills or experiences they have in the pursuit of interests they have in the firm outside of the work above. Special projects will vary depending on the distinct interest of each individual intern.

Who is Brooks Hensley?

I am a recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma looking to extend my education through a master’s program in Europe. I joined Cortado as a spring analyst in January and have been lucky enough to continue working with Cortado through the summer as a summer analyst. Before joining Cortado, I had experience in finance and consulting. More specifically, I interned with Boeing as a financial analyst and worked with The Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth as a consulting associate and team lead.

What were the special projects you all worked on?

After a couple of weeks at Cortado it became quite clear to me that I thoroughly enjoyed assisting in the diligence process. Therefore, I knew I wanted my special project to be tied to the diligence process in some way. Whenever I heard Susan, the Principal here at Cortado, mention a scoring system for the initial diligence process I jumped on the opportunity to take part in building that scoring system for my special project. With the help of Mansi and Aaron, I created a rubric that scored startups on a 0–100 basis. To prove that the system was accurate, I back tested the system with companies in our database to show a positive correlation between a startups score and result of diligence process. Looking forward, this scoring system will be another tool interns and analysts will be able to use to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the initial diligence process.

Favorite part about interning at Cortado Ventures?

Without a doubt it is being able to meet and hear from the remarkable entrepreneurs that are building companies to tackle the world’s most urgent problems. Witnessing their unwavering ambition and determination was motivating for me to say the least.

What did we learn and take away from interning with Cortado?

Intellectual rigor and the ability to digest and abridge complex ideas/substantial amounts of data. There are plenty of other skills and lessons I learned at Cortado but sharpening my intellectual rigor and improving my ability to quickly summarize copious amounts of complex information will benefit me in all aspects of life moving forward.

Ok, so what does Cortado Ventures do and how do they stand out in the VC landscape?

Cortado Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in ambitious, growth-driven companies defining a new generation of economic prosperity for Oklahoma and the Midcontinent region. Primarily investing from Pre-Seed to Series A, Cortado Ventures focuses on companies within Fintech, Biotech, Aerospace, Ag Tech, Energy Tech, Manufacturing and Logistics sectors. At just over two years old and 28 investments later, Cortado Ventures is performing in the top 10 percent of all VC funds in the nation and is the number one emerging firm in the region and number six overall. Cortado’s Partners are all successful entrepreneurs and senior executives that have built companies in the regions and sectors that the firm focuses on, leaving a wealth of experience to leverage when capitalizing upon the opportunity that exists in the Midcontinent.

What is the kind of work you do during the internship?

Cortado interns primarily work through each stage of the lifecycle of a deal, from sourcing to final investment memo. Additionally, interns often represent the firm at community events across the state, interacting with the leaders and contributors that work to ensure the success of the burgeoning Oklahoma entrepreneurial ecosystem. Therefore, nearly all the work that a Cortado intern will do can be grouped into three buckets: sourcing, due diligence, and platform/ecosystem engagement.

  • Sourcing: As interns we played a vital role in sourcing investment deals. We attended startup pitch events, scoured through our deal flow mechanisms for interesting companies that might be a thesis match, and established relationships with founders and other contributors to the startup ecosystem. Once we came across startups that we found promising we dropped them into the firm’s pipeline database to begin the due diligence process.
  • Due Diligence: If you were to walk into the Cortado office this summer, odds are you would have caught interns conducting diligence on startups within our pipeline. We often worked to kick off the due diligence process by analyzing startups in the pipeline to understand if they pass the first filter of the firm’s thesis. Those that match these initial criteria typically advance to an introductory meeting, during which we often represented the firm by asking relevant questions, like asking what their current traction was or their outlook on the competitive landscape, and taking notes to gain a deeper understanding of the startup. Over the summer we conducted around 25 initial meetings with founders! We then used this data to make recommendations to the investment committee or synthesize a report to a Cortado industry advisor for review. As startups advanced further into the diligence process, we conducted extensive research into its target market, built excel models to assess financial viability, benchmarked the startup’s competitors, and synthesized gathered findings into investment memos.
  • Platform/Ecosystem Engagement: In addition to the typical investment work, we interacted with the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state of Oklahoma. An example of this was when we attended the Lightship Capital Showcase at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa where we learned about Lightship’s accelerator program and caught up with Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan from Boddle Learning, a Cortado portfolio company. Overall, we attended 6 community events in roughly two and a half months!

To apply for a 2023 Cortado Ventures Internship, visit our site.

We want to thank Brooks for his service with Cortado Ventures and wish him the very best on his future endeavors.

We also want to thank the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) for its support through its Internship Partnership Program.