Paul Bania, Full-Time MBA ‘13

Golf Lessons: Paul Bania’s Internship at Zeroline Golf Provides a First-Hand Look at Entrepreneurship

Although spending a summer internship on the lush, sun-soaked golf courses of San Diego might seem like a breeze, for Rady School of Management student Paul Bania (MBA ’13) it was the ultimate lesson in entrepreneurship.

During the summer of 2012, Bania worked as a marketing and project manager intern at Zeroline Golf, a startup company developing a smartphone app to analyze a golfer’s swing and provide instant feedback on how to improve. Bania connected with the company’s founder and CEO, Tom Gibbings, after Gibbings attended an event at the Rady School and mentioned to students that he was looking for an intern who was interested in golf and wanted to work for a startup. As a natural athlete and avid golfer eager to learn about entrepreneurship, Bania was a perfect fit.

As an intern at a company comprised of just three employees, Gibbings, CTO Steve Blake and COO/golf pro Devin Fitzmaurice, Bania gained first-hand experience in many roles within the company. He learned early on that being flexible is essential in a startup environment.

“Each day was different, based on the company’s priorities,” Bania said. “The beginning of the internship was product development on the app itself — user interface and making it look nice. I worked with a graphic designer to determine what colors and layout made sense. Then, once it was time to build the website, I was able to help with design elements and content.”

Bania’s willingness to pitch in wherever he was needed led to a major breakthrough in product development. The original concept for the app was primarily to target golf pros because the complex data generated would need to be analyzed by a professional. Realizing that the company could increase the app’s market by making the data more accessible to general consumers, Bania worked with the app’s programmer to aggregate the data into a score. The end result is that the app now features a scoring system that is easy for consumers to understand. Once the app is approved by Apple, it will be marketed to both general consumers and golf pros.

Bania credits his experience at the Rady School with helping him succeed at his internship. “When I started my internship, I didn’t speak the ‘golf’ language,” Bania said. “Having the experience at Rady of communicating in a diverse environment helped me tremendously.”

As a graduate of the U.S Naval Academy and a member of the Navy Reserves, Bania is looking beyond his internship to the civilian life he will lead after graduation. He noted that his education at Rady is a stepping stone for him to transition out the military. In fact, he already has secured a position in the operational rotational program at Amazon.

“I have a lot of military-specific leadership experience, but Rady helped me refine those skills and translate them into the business world,” Bania said.

Until graduation, Bania can still be found on the golf course. He continues to work with Zeroline Golf in product development and demonstration.