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A 30-minute meeting as a freshman transformed Nat's career, leading first to a summer internship with First Round Capital, and later to an internship with a portfolio company. A Wharton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowship, earned his sophomore year, provided financial support over the summer during that internship.
A Wharton Venture Award funded Nat so he could develop his business idea over the summer of his junior year. Josh Kopelman continued as an advisor and mentor and became the first investor in Nat and InviteMedia, creating a platform for display media trading. In 2008 Nat graduated with a Specialization in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Nat stayed on at Google for two years, integrating his company into the DoubleClick division of the web giant.
Yet again, First Round Capital is an investor, now joined by Google Ventures. Nat is working to help cure cancer, partnering with cancer centers to organize the world’s oncology data in order to accelerate research and optimize treatment.
Today, Nat is an ardent supporter of Wharton Entrepreneurship's programs, providing guidance, advice, & support to young entrepreneurial-minded students.
Follow @natsturner and @flatironhealth on Twitter
In his first year, he served as Co-Chair of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, launched the Penn Founders Club (a community of student entrepreneurs) and consulted for the Wharton Small Business Development Center.
Davis applied to and was accepted into the Venture Initiation Program and received a Wharton Venture Award. These Wharton Entrepreneurship programs allowed Davis to explore a variety of venture concepts.
Inspired by Diapers.com (founded by Penn alums Marc Lore, Scott Hilton WG'07, & Vinit Bharara C'93), he began exploring how to tropicalize the model for Brazil. While at Wharton, Davis raised $4.4M for Baby.com.br. His investors included Aydin Senkut WG'96/G'96, Founder of Felicis Ventures and Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board member.
Named Brazil's "Startup of the Year" in 2012 by business magazine PEGN, Baby.com.br quickly became one of Brazil's most prominent entrepreneurial success stories; within 18 months of launch, it had raised $40M from Tiger Global and Accel Partners. Davis also launched Dinda.com.br, Brazil’s first flash sales site for moms, in July 2012.
Davis’ inspiration for becoming an entrepreneur was always to have a positive impact on the less fortunate. His new venture, Cotopaxi, is an "outdoor gear brand with a social mission." Leveraging relationships from his days at Wharton, Davis brought on his Lauder classmate Stephan Jacob WG’11/G’11 as co-founder and COO.
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The team came together debating "Why does a pair of glasses cost as much as $700?" and discovered an industry they could disrupt. That year they were semi-finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition.
Wharton Entrepreneurship granted the award to Jeff Raider, who also visited factories in China in conjunction with the Wharton Global Immersion Program and integrated the venture into his Wharton experience.
The business launched in February 2010 with coverage in GQ, Vogue, & Daily Candy, and leveraged classes and Wharton faculty as resources to build the business and their brand.
They exceeded their first year sales goals in a few weeks and quickly shifted their focus to operations and customer service needs.
Giving glasses to those without access to eyewear was in their original business plan. Co-founder Neil Blumenthal worked for VisionSpring before Wharton. Four years after launch, Warby Parker has distributed over 500,000 pairs of glasses to people in need in 36 countries, creating more than $100M of economic impact due to increased individual productivity.
You can now check out Warby Parker glasses in stores and showrooms across the nation as well as through the Home Try-On Program. They continue to get great press, both for their innovative marketing and their sharp look, while encouraging other Wharton entrepreneurs.
Neil and Dave continue as co-CEOs at WP, while Jeff is now co-founder and co-CEO of Harry’s, which is bringing the Warby Parker approach to shaving: "a great shave at a fair price." Andy has remained a Director at WP, and is flourishing in the VC world.
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At Penn, Kunal was heavily involved in entrepreneurship, gaining experience and know-how from the WBPC workshops.
Kunal attended every EIR session, and he used the knowledge and inspiration he gained from them to work on his venture dropps, a pioneer in individually-packeted laundry detergent.
He received a BA in Economics with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and a BAS in Engineering. After working at Microsoft, he returned to India and launched SnapDeal, an online marketplace, in February 2010.
The company has raised over $330M in funding, has over 25M users, features over 5M products, and is reported to be on track to hit $1 billion in revenue in 2014.
Follow @1kunalbahl on Twitter
Working with clients with high growth potential in the Philadelphia region gave him a keen understanding of the challenges startups face.
His venture, Sparkling Fresh Artists and Auctions, aimed to be a marketplace for emerging artists in NYC.
He secured an Associate position at a boutique investment firm, allowing him to bring together his Wharton Small Business Development Center experience and entrepreneurial ambitions.
GA launched with the goal of building a place to support the New York startup community. Three years later, they’re a global education institution that has helped empower nearly 100,000 individuals to pursue work they love.
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They introduced the concept into a number of classes, profiting from the expertise and efforts of both classmates and professors; built their network through the Entrepreneur in Residence Program; were accepted into the Venture Initiation Program; and finally connected with the Vet School at Penn, giving them access to their target market.
They graduated the same year and stayed in Philadelphia to continue to build their business and leverage Wharton connections.
Pet insurance is common in the UK, but in the early 2000s it was almost unknown in the US. The Ashtons licensed the Petplan US brand from Petplan UK, which had been selling pet insurance for over 35 years and was the largest UK pet insurer, giving them access to decades of actuarial data.
In 2006, Petplan USA began selling its first policies.
A serendipitous introduction at Wharton brought the Ashtons together with Vernon Hill W’67, founder and CEO of Metro Bank, who became the Chairman of Petplan. Hill added Petplan as an employee benefit at his company, and many others, including Travelocity and S.C. Johnson & Son, soon followed suit.
Petplan is #46 on Forbes’ 2014 list of America’s Most Promising Companies, their second year on the list, and the only pet company represented; Natasha Ashton also made the 2014 Forbes list of “women who built outstanding companies”. The company is #55 on the 2013 Philly 100, which celebrates the fastest growing companies in the region. The Ashtons were named Entrepreneur of the Year in the Greater Philadelphia region by Ernst & Young.
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Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Wharton Magazine blog. By Emily Chisholm W’16 What is Peter Thiel, the man who pays innovative college students to abandon their degrees and pursue their own ventures, doing speaking at Wharton? A … Continue reading →
By Nadine Kavanaugh, Associate Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship In this series, Get To Know A Wharton Prof, we do brief interviews with our professors in order to give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of these amazing scholars, teachers, and entrepreneurs. Today’s interviewee, … Continue reading →
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