Abaris, Wharton Business Plan Competition Finalist

By Matthew Carey C’07/WG’15, Team Leader for Abaris

Team Members: Jason Grimes WG’15, Nimish Shukla G’15/WG’15, Adam Colombo ENG’14/W’14

Abaris is an Orbitz for Annuities. We are creating the first of its kind online marketplace enabling consumers to easily compare quotes on insurers’ guaranteed lifetime income offerings.

What’s new and exciting about your business plan?

We are creating the first of its kind online marketplace for annuities.

Online marketplaces have transformed entire industries.  Think of how much easier it is to buy an airline flight or purchase car insurance today than it was a decade or two ago.  By eliminating the antiquated and expensive middleman, we are improving value for both insurers and consumers.  In the process, we are working to provide millions of Americans with a more secure retirement.

How did you come up with this idea?

I was working at the Treasury Department as a policy advisor on retirement and pension related issues and saw how confusing the annuity market was for me, even as a finance professional.  I couldn’t imagine how non-specialized insurance salesmen and retirees could understand the product if I couldn’t.  I then realized that a lot of the complexity is needless and just intended to prevent the consumer from comparing different insurers’ offerings on a like-for-like basis.

At the same time, I was also seeing how hard a time my parents were having understanding how best to transform their retirement savings into retirement income.  When I came to Wharton, I found that Jason, Adam, and Nimish had all had similar experiences with their parents.

When we realized how much time and money Americans over 50 years old now spend online, we decided the time was right to migrate the antiquated sales process to a more efficient online marketplace.

What does it mean to you to one of the eight finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?

I came to Wharton to pursue a big idea I had.  But it was just that, a lofty idea.

I am excited to have found a team of co-founders here at Wharton that is just as passionate about building this business and changing the dynamics of an entire industry.

The BPC has given us a chance to cement our ideas, to dig into the hard questions and come up with answers.  It has also given us unparalleled access to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  The finals are providing us the opportunity to share what we’re building with an even larger audience.

If you win the Perlman Grand Prize ($30,000 prize, $10,000 in legal services, $5,000 in accounting/strategy services), what will you do with these resources?

We are launching a pilot this June.  It will require us to raise outside funding. Winning the Grand Prize would be incredibly important because it would allow us to raise less money and retain more of our company.  The money we raise will go mainly towards digital marketing and the IT buildout.

Abaris team pic smallerWhat’s one fun fact about each member of your team?

Matt grew up in a small town in Maine with 1,500 people (and his favorite pastimes as a kid were XC skiing and maple syrup making)

In his free time, Adam is working on a project called MLB Beat The Streak. It’s a series of models that use machine learning to forecast hits in baseball games.

Jason has skied all over the western United States and Canada out of a helicopter.

Nimish is an accomplished Bollywood dancer.