Entrepreneurship Blog

Karl Ulrich talks with Jesse Pujji C’06/W’06, Founder of Ampush

Ever wonder where the ads in your Facebook and Twitter feeds come from?

Karl Ulrich interviews Jesse Pujji C’06/W’06 about his company, Ampush, a marketing solutions provider that powers customer acquisitions for some of the world’s most disruptive brands and companies. And yes–makes those ads that show up in your social media feeds, and tailors them just for you.

Jesse and his cofounders, Nick Shah W’06 and Chris Amos W’06, at pre-college program for students headed to Wharton, and decided to be college roommates. At the age of 25, they moved to California and told their parents, “we’re going to start a business.” Just what that business would be, they didn’t yet know.

They used their quantitative skills to bring data analysis to digital marketing–in 2010, a space truly ready for disruption–and in less than six months, went from spending around $20,000 per month on Facebook ads to close to $500,000 per month. In early 2011, Facebook asked to meet them, and soon after made Ampush one of their first partners with the ability to build their own software solutions on top of the Facebook APIs.

Listen to Jesse tell Karl this thrilling story of incredible growth, and the data-driven business model that makes it possible:

Read more Karl Ulrich talks with Jesse Pujji C’06/W’06, Founder of Ampush

Karl Ulrich talks with Cory Levy, Founder of After School

Karl Ulrich interviews Cory Levy about his startup, After School, the largest social network for teens.

After School is a place for teens who want to be themselves, make new connections, and participate in positive activities–both online and offline. It’s a private social network that allows American high school students to share and connect with fellow students at their same school. And millions of students, in more than 80% of U.S. high schools, use After School.

Listen to hear how Cory built After School, and how he knew, after many other entrepreneurial ideas, that this one was a winner.

Read more Karl Ulrich talks with Cory Levy, Founder of After School

Building a Changemaker: Notes from the Germination Project

By Stephanie Kim MPA’16

  • A reverse vending machine that provides transit credits in exchange for recyclable goods.
  • An immersive, cross-cultural exchange and language learning program that doesn’t require a passport.
  • A grassroots anti-smoking movement to improve the health, environment, and brand of a city.
  • A network of rooftop gardens connecting corporations with communities.

These are four ideas that were pitched to a panel of judges not by experienced social entrepreneurs, but by teams of Philadelphia-area high school students. These students—relative strangers to each other—had 45 minutes to come up with their vision, and just five hours to turn it into a cogent, shark-tank pitch for grown-ups.

And, the real kicker: they couldn’t use the internet.

Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship blog Social Impact
Read more Building a Changemaker: Notes from the Germination Project

Karl Ulrich talks with Jake Schwartz WG’08, Founder of General Assembly

The second episode of Launch Pad! Today, Karl Ulrich talks with Jake Schwartz WG’08, Founder of General Assembly.

Hear Jake talk about his journey as an entrepreneur (including his early failed startup ideas) and the complicated process of evolving General Assembly from a co-working space for entrepreneurs into what he cheerfully calls a “trade school for Ivy Leaguers.”

Or as Karl puts it, “First, you failed to found Kickstarter, then you failed to found WeWork.”

Along the way, Jake and his cofounders basically “reinvented the university,” intentionally creating the educational experience at General Assembly from the ground up, so that they could keep or discard elements of the traditional university as they learned what worked for today’s technology-driven world. Ultimately, they turned General Assembly into “a pioneer in education and career transformation, specializing in today’s most in-demand skills.”

Read more Karl Ulrich talks with Jake Schwartz WG’08, Founder of General Assembly

Is Capitalism Saving Or Destroying Us? Davis Smith WG’11/G’11 (Video)

Capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty, but has also been the most destructive force on the planet. Serial entrepreneur Davis Smith WG’11/G’11 grew up in the developing world and in this TEDx talk discusses the controversial nature of capitalism and how a chance encounter with a young street-boy in Peru put him on a path to use capitalism as a force for good.

As a four-year old, Davis ended up on a unique life-path when his family left the United States and moved to the developing world. His father was an adventurer, so Davis grew up climbing into active volcanoes, floating down the Amazon in a self-made raft, and surviving on uninhabited islands. He developed a love for adventure and the outdoors, which extended into adulthood. He has since traveled to over 60 countries and recently led a kayaking expedition from Cuba to Florida. While his life path was shaped by these childhood experiences in the outdoors, it was actually his exposure to those living in extreme poverty that most impacted his life. He believes that it is only through service to others that we can find true happiness. Davis is the CEO of Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear company with a humanitarian mission at its core. He is also a member of the eight-person United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Launching Our Launch Pad Podcast!

We are terrifically proud to launch our new podcast, Launch Pad from Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship!

Launch Pad the podcast will feature the most entrepreneurially exciting interviews from the radio program Launch Pad on Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School on Sirius XM, channel 111. Hosted by our very own Karl Ulrich, Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and Rob Coneybeer WG’95, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Shasta Ventures, each week offers fascinating interviews with successful entrepreneurs.

We begin this week with Holly Shelton, Founder of Movewith, and we’ll post a new interview every week. Subscribe on Soundcloud, iTunes, or Google Play!

In addition, once a month, Karl will pick the Elevator Pitch of the Month, featured on Forbes.

We can’t wait to share with you the insights, ideas, quips, plans, stories, and entrepreneurial adventures that take place on Launch Pad.


Start Up Selling with Jeffrey Goodman WG’96 (Video)

Who are the most strategic customers—in terms of companies and people—for a startup to target? And once you have decided who your best sales targets are, how do you connect with and sell to them as people?

In this Entrepreneurial Workshop with Jeffrey Goodman,WG’96, VP of Sales at Genweb2, held at Wharton San Francisco, takeaways include:

  • A framework for relationship-based selling;
  • Why it is important to be able to sell to people based on their social style instead of yours… and a structured approach for doing so;
  • A powerful model for targeting the right kinds of customers—both companies and people—based on the growth stage of a technology company.

8 Lessons I Learned Starting A Business In College

Fernando Rojo, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Founder of PATOS

By Fernando Rojo C’18, Founder of PATOS

“Working in a third-world country will be a logistical nightmare.”

“No one will want such bright patterns on shoes.”

“Why aren’t your sales higher already?”

These are a few of the sorts of things people said to me as I started PATOS, a line of modern sneakers made with traditional Peruvian textiles that I’ve spent the last two years bringing to market. The idea for the business came to me during my freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. I was visiting extended family in Argentina and met an artisan named Rafael at a flea market there. He made these incredible shoes with vibrant textiles. I heard his story and perspective as a talented artisan in a struggling economy, and I was hooked; a few days later, I got on a plane back to the U.S. with 100 pairs of Rafael’s textile-covered shoes and the idea for PATOS: I’d partner with him and other talented artisans across Latin America, building a global brand for their handcrafted, one-of-a-kind sneakers. Read more 8 Lessons I Learned Starting A Business In College

Back to Wharton for Multinational Entrepreneurship Inspiration

Sara Haq and Wharton Professor Philip Nochols
Wharton Professor Philip Nichols and Sara Haq

By Sara Haq W’06, Founder and Principal of SH International

In October, I had the honor of giving a guest lecture at the Wharton School to sixty students on emerging markets and multinational entrepreneurship. These were students of the Emerging Economies class of Wharton Professor Philip Nichols. My hope is that these students learned something from the lessons I shared from doing business across five continents. I know I got a lot out of the experience, including: Read more Back to Wharton for Multinational Entrepreneurship Inspiration