The Rise of PennApps

By Pulak Mittal (W’14/Eng’14: Management & Technology Program)

I vaguely remember hearing about PennApps as an incoming freshman. As a computer science major, I got an email or two about it, but didn’t really have a grasp of what it was, or even what “building apps” really entailed. Fall 2010 was the first iteration of the PennApps hackathon where 10 teams presented their hacks, and the 40 participants fit very comfortably into the Weiss Tech House.

PennApps 2010:  We all fit inside Weiss Tech House

I participated in PennApps the following spring, when the participation rose to about 100 Penn students.  We still met in the Weiss Tech House, although we spilled out into the hallways and some of the rooms in the School of Engineering nearby. Since then, I have joined the organizing team, and we have seen interest in the hackathon explode. Last weekend, 320 participants from 29 schools as far away as the Rochester Institute of Technology, McGill University, Duke University, and the University of Michigan, came to Penn to hack. Beyond the broad range of visiting schools in attendance, we also had awesome interest from inside Penn as well. There were a number of freshmen who came out (and won awards!) with no prior “hacking” experience; I also saw quite a few non-Computer Science majors picking up the basics of coding and hacking for the first time.

PennApps Fall 2012: We filled up the entire ground floor of McClelland Hall, with overflow space necessary for a number of participants

This, in my eyes, is one of the most awesome places where PennApps creates value: not only does it provide a venue for experienced coders to build awesome hacks, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for learning as well. As the world grows increasingly digitalized, the ability to build software apps becomes more and more invaluable. People with an interest in technology are realizing how useful it really is to have some technical expertise, and the number of Whartonite Seeks Code Monkey emails I’ve received in the past year is actually less than ever before. Seeing friends of mine in Wharton who don’t know how to code develop and sharpen their front-end design skills at PennApps was a very gratifying experience.

For budding entrepreneurs at Penn, PennApps is a great chance to get your feet wet and build out a (very) MVP in a single weekend. PennApps participants Patrick Leahy and Justin Meltzer teamed up with Dan Shipper to launch Firefly last week, which started off as Phone Spot at PennApps last spring. Tess Rinearson and Drew Inglis are continuing work on, which started as Grassroutes at PennApps last spring and got 250k hits during the SOPA blackout in January.

The Penn entrepreneurial scene is making big moves, and I’m excited that PennApps is a part of that. I’m eager to see PennApps expand, and to see more startups come out of the plethora of awesome apps that are produced every semester. And the hackathon is just a first step – PennApps is going to grow beyond just an event every semester. Stay tuned!


Pulak Mittal

Pulak Mittal is a junior in the M&T program studying computer science and marketing. He has done internships at Facebook and Piazza, and is currently a TA for CIS 121. At Penn, he is lead organizer of PennApps and president of the Dining Philosophers.  Follow Pulak on Twitter.

Wharton Descends on TechCrunch Disrupt

By Thomas Baldwin, Wharton MBA Class of 2013

Wharton students at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference

The trend of viewing entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to more traditional career paths such as banking and consulting continues to gain momentum at Wharton. In one sign of how times have changed since the days when a CV drop at McKinsey and Goldman was default behavior for MBAs, this September marked the start of the Semester in San Francisco (SSF) program, a new initiative designed to cater to Wharton MBAs focused on entrepreneurship, startups, and venture capital. Wharton’s increasingly entrepreneurial profile was also in evidence at Disrupt SF, the highly anticipated annual tech / startup conference organized by TechCrunch. This year’s conference, which over 25 Whartonites from the MBA class of 2013 attended (more than any other business school), featured a who’s who of luminaries from the technology, startup and venture capital arenas. Among the more high profile speakers were Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, Jessica Alba of The Honest Company, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter.

Wharton descended on Disrupt in a big way. In addition to the 25 SSF participants who attended, several alumni entrepreneurs made their presence felt as well. Jacob Rosenbloom (G’11/WG’11), co-founder of Emprego Ligado, a Sao Paulo-based, 500 Startups-backed company focused on disrupting the Brazilian labor market, was an exhibitor at the Brazil Pavilion. Emprego Ligado, which was recently “TechCrunched”, leveraged the conference to generate awareness around its innovative model for enabling employers to recruit blue-collar candidates via mobile phones. Davis Smith (G’11/WG’11) was also present at the conference, and took time out of his schedule to visit Wharton West and discuss how he raised over $22M in capital from top-tier VCs less than 2 years after launching

While several hot topics were in discussion at the conference, three themes resonated particularly powerfully during the 4-day event: (1) The rise of Mobile as the next frontier for investment and innovation within the tech world; (2) the emergence of Latin America as a fertile breeding ground for some of the world’s hottest new startups; and (3) education as a space ripe for tech-enabled disruption.

Excitement around each of these themes was driven by different factors. With respect to Mobile, given the rapid rate of global smartphone penetration to date, and the widespread belief that nearly every human will have a smartphone in hand within the next 15 to 20 years, it’s no surprise that Mobile was on everyone’s mind. The high level of excitement around Latin American startups was driven by the presence of country-specific startup pavilions for four Latin American nations – more than for any other region of the world. Pablo Pedrejon (WG’13) echoed this sentiment, stating that he was “excited by the significant expansion of startup culture in Latin America on display during the conference.” As for education, Ariel Quinones (WG’13) captured the sense of excitement around this theme when he stated that “the panel on education was outstanding. Panelist Sal Khan (founder of Khan Academy) captured the imagination of many in the audience when he mentioned that we were “at the top of the first inning” when it comes to using technology to empower educators.”

Wharton’s presence at TechCrunch Disrupt SF – which most SSF attendees found to be an excellent introduction to Silicon Valley’s culture of innovation – serves as a reminder of the continuing shift in emphasis towards careers in entrepreneurship. Supported by Wharton Entrepreneurship’s ongoing effort to make Wharton a place where budding entrepreneurs can grow and thrive, this trend is set to continue.


Thomas Baldwin is a MBA /MA Candidate @Wharton. Entrepreneurship Editor for the Wharton Journal. Fluent in Spanish & Portuguese. Passions: Brazil, Entrepreneurship, Startups. Follow Thomas on Twitter: @thomas_baldwin

This article originally appeared in The Wharton Journal.

Start-Ups in Latin America: Opportunities and Resources for Wharton Entrepreneurs

By Bernardo Arrospide

Latin America is currently experiencing a technology boom that is disrupting traditional industries across the region.  While Internet penetration is just beginning to reach the masses in countries such as Peru and Colombia, start-up ecosystems have already sprung up in Brazil, Mexico and Chile.  A rising middle-class with access to new technologies is providing the opportunity for entrepreneurs to arbitrage successful business models from developed markets, or, to develop entirely novel businesses tailored for the region.  As a first year MBA student originally from Peru, I decided to forego the traditional internship path to try and build a new business in South America.

In September 2011, the Economist published an article titled “Man’s Best Amigo” about the emerging Latin American pet care market.  I had been looking for the right idea for a business in South America and finally felt I’d found it.  In a stroke of luck, my fellow MBA learning team member, Benjamin Lewis, was also a Penn veterinary student and a serial entrepreneur.  We teamed up and began developing a business plan for a Brazilian pet care e-commerce business.

After several pivots, we are now on the verge of launching an online veterinary supply business for Brazil.  We were able to reach this point by boot-strapping in part thanks to the Chilean government, which provided us with a $40,000 equity-free grant via its Start-Up Chile incubator.  Launched in 2010, this program seeks to bring entrepreneurs to accelerate their start-ups in Chile.  In exchange, the program asks participants help develop the local start-up ecosystem through community actions such as organizing meet-ups for entrepreneurs, mentoring local students and speaking at universities.

Although initially Ben and I were skeptical about moving to Santiago to work on a start-up focused on Brazil, we have been extremely satisfied and grateful for the experience.  Start-Up Chile has already incubated three classes of 100 global start-ups and understands how to work with entrepreneurs whose primary market is not Chile.  In fact, the program seeks to bring as many global entrepreneurs as possible to create a truly international network.

There are two unique ways in which start-ups can leverage their time in Chile.  The first is to utilize the local market as testing grounds for a global product.  A great example of this is SaferTaxi, a taxi-ordering service similar to Uber, but focused on Latin America, which was started by a group of HBS MBAs.  Last summer SaferTaxi tested its app successfully with Chilean taxis, streamlining their system before rolling it out to larger cities such as Buenos Aires.  Today SaferTaxi is venture-backed and headquartered in Sao Paulo.  A second way in which Chile can add value is by leveraging the local community.  Working in proximity to hundreds of entrepreneurs has been invaluable for us.  Through the program, we were able to find experienced e-commerce developers who guided us on how to develop an online B2B platform cheaply and efficiently.

Besides the advice provided by Start-Up Chile, we have also continued to leverage Penn’s resources.  Lippincott library gave us access to key market research reports, even for niche areas such as pet care on Latin America. Meanwhile,Brazilian MBA students helped us contact dozens of veterinary clinics across Brazil.  Finally, Wharton’s network of entrepreneurs in Brazil has provided us with consistent advice and encouragement.  Entrepreneurs like Davis Smith of and Pete Ostroske of have literally blazed the trail for foreign MBA students launching start-ups in Latin America.

After several months in Brazil and Chile, I continue to feel that Latin America provides an incredible opportunity.  While bureaucracy, regulation, corruption and underdeveloped capital markets remain a huge challenge; I believe that entrepreneurs with the right networks and ideas can be successful.  Penn and Wharton give students a great network for navigating these challenges while Start-Up Chile provides a fantastic venue to incubate an early-stage idea.  If you find yourself watching the Latin start-up boom from the sidelines and want to get involved, the resources are readily and absolutely at your disposal.  All you need is a dream and the will to act upon it.


Bernardo is an MBA student at the Wharton School and co-founder of a B2B e-commerce supplier of veterinary products for clinics, pet shops and animal hospitals in Brazil.  Previously Bernardo was the Chief of Staff to the CEO of the Medicines Company, a billion-dollar market cap biotech business where he was responsible for establishing the firm’s operations in Brazil.  Bernardo holds an AB in Economics from the University of Chicago. You can follow Bernardo on Twitter at and sign up to receive info on 4Vets launch.

Design and Design Processes for Your Startup

By Ashish Patil

Design is one of the most crucial elements of any startup. The product (which can be a service) needs to connect with the user both functionally and aesthetically as well as achieve business objectives effectively. As a startup journeys from concept to final product, various factors influence execution: resources are limited, new information about the opportunity unfolds, and deadline pressures are ever-present. With regard to design, I do believe there are unifying themes and principles that apply across disciplines and industries. I studied design theory in depth when I took Professor Gregg Versonder’s Human-Computer Interaction course at the University of Pennsylvania. Although focused on IT user-interface design, the course reinforced principles I experienced through my medical device startup, Medivity, as well as my apparel startup, ARE 5 Apparel, which I am currently developing in the Wharton Venture Initiation Program. Despite the fact that these are completely different types of ventures, I realized that there are commonalities, and really that I am a user-experience designer at heart.

With Medivity, we took a medical device concept from a physician and engineered a prototype through the user-centered designprocess. We interacted heavily with the physician (user) to understand the procedure, to develop the functional goals of the device, and to work together with our engineers to build a viable product. It helped that this physician is forward-thinking when it comes to product applications in his specialty; therefore, I would advise any entrepreneur to involve a lead user in the product development process.

In addition to implementing a user-centric design process, it is also important to understand the type of design talent you require.  As I mentioned previously, I see myself as a user-experience designer. I have the ability to design a solution for functionality (i.e., create something that connects with users and works in their environment).

I know that in order to deliver the best product or service, I must rely on outside talent groups such as engineers and graphic designers as I have done with both Medivity and ARE 5 Apparel. At Medivity, my co-founding team and I brought a level of creativity to the process whereas our technical designers brought a deeper level of engineering knowledge. At ARE 5 Apparel, my co-founder, Jon Striefsky, and I support our artistic designers in a variety of ways by educating them about our customer, suggesting design enhancements, and assessing the scalability of the design.

Every startup needs to understand their innovation process and how value is added to their initial concept to achieve an optimal final product. Who needs to work their magic on the design and at what point in the process does that person interact with the design? It is essential that everyone clearly communicates the reasoning behind their design contributions. (Is it to enhance the user experience? Does it help the company achieve new business objectives?) As you change business objectives/product specs, an iterative process through your design stage will keep you on the right path. My final piece of advice is that simplicity is very important, especially in today’s world. With the wealth of distractions, users will be appreciative of a simple, clean product that provides them with the most overall value. There isn’t a need to jam every feature into the product. Rather, talk to your users and get a feel for what they truly need.

In the grand scheme of things, understand what talents and abilities you bring to the design table and identify talent you need to create that amazing product. These lessons on design are crucial for your startup to reduce development costs, to pivot your development onto newly discovered opportunities, and to create a valued product on schedule. Ultimately, focusing on your design needs will help you maintain your sanity through this very uncertain process.


Ashish Patil

Ashish is currently an Executive Masters in Technology Management (EMTM) student at The University of Pennsylvania. He is the co-founder of ARE 5 Apparel. Prior to Penn, Ashish obtained his BS in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech, founded a medical device startup, and worked in healthcare consulting as an operations analyst. Ashish’s interests include healthcare, entertainment, operations, and innovation. Outside the world of startups, Ashish is the Wharton Philly Club President, enjoys skiing, and plays pickup basketball.

Execution Entrepreneurship – A Look Beyond the Samwers

By Casey Rosengren

The Samwer brothers may be the most successful web entrepreneurs in Europe. These German siblings have made their careers by taking business models from the United States and implementing them elsewhere around the world. Based in Berlin, their company, Rocket Internet, has created over 20,000 jobs in its lifetime, and currently has offices in more than 20 countries. However, in an industry that holds innovation sacrosanct, their lack of originality has turned them into pariahs, with serial entrepreneurs like Jason Calacanis labeling them “despicable thieves” and questioning their ability to sleep at night.

Leaving aside the politics of the issue, it is unquestionable that the Samwers have stumbled upon an interesting phenomenon: execution entrepreneurship. While the Samwers are the most well known in this space, there are also a number of individual entrepreneurs that are riding the wave of execution entrepreneurship. China alone is home to over 100 daily deal sites, and countries like India and Brazil are not far behind. Some imitators shamelessly copy the original businesses; for example, the Brazilian company Vostu copied Zynga’s games so closely that they actually contained the same bugs. On the other hand, some companies view the originals more as inspiration, and take their businesses in entirely different directions.

Through research this past spring, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of execution entrepreneurs building e-commerce ventures around the world. One of the main themes that came up in these interviews was the importance of modifying products and business models to suit local conditions. The founders mentioned a variety of adaptations that could be categorized as responses to four different environmental factors: surface differences, market forces, cultural constructs, and Internet/technology issues.

Surface differences are the low-hanging fruit of localization. These are changes to the look and feel of the site that can be made with little effort and only superficial insight into the local culture. Translating a site into the local language or adding a payment processor that accepts the local currency would fit into this category; it is basically the bare minimum required to do business internationally.

Compared to surface differences, market forces are not as blatantly obvious and must be discovered through experience and knowledge of the market. For example, while RedBox and Coinstar machines have garnered some success in the U.S., similar products already exist in Japan. Thus, if someone tried to bring a Coinstar-esque machine to Japan, they’d need to come up with their own unique differentiation strategy. The same can be true for e-commerce businesses; while an exact parallel might not exist, consumers may be using other services to satisfy their needs.

Some of the founders also discussed how they had adapted their businesses to cultural differences. In Central and South America, consumers are more risk-averse and are still wary of e-commerce (see appendix for cultural measurements). Accordingly, in an attempt to alleviate perceived risk, some companies offer Cash-on-Delivery and Bank Transfer payment options in addition to traditional methods like credit cards and Paypal.

Aesthetics and design also may vary from country to country. For example, Japanese sites tend to be busier than their American counterparts, as can be seen through the comparison of the English and Japanese versions of Yahoo!’s homepage. One theory behind this difference is based upon the Japanese language itself; it uses a pictorial alphabet with over 2,000 common characters, and is read either from right-to-left or left-to-right depending on the medium. As a result, it is possible that Japanese consumers are used to taking in more information at once and have different eye movement patterns when looking at web pages. People from other countries also may process information differently, so international entrepreneurs must be cognizant of local design standards.

Many of these founders are creating markets in countries that have lower rates of technology adoption than in the United States. As a result, a number of companies have implemented some sort of customer or supplier education initiative. One C2C e-commerce site created in-depth instructional videos for their sellers, as they were targeting people that had no prior experience with computers or the Internet. Another founder in a developing country had to teach his customer support staff to handle the question, “Where is your store in (name a city)?” – consumers didn’t understand the very concept of shopping online.

While pursuing an execution entrepreneurship venture may reduce the idea-related risk of a business, there are still a plethora of issues that must be overcome to achieve product-market fit.

On a separate note, while counter-intuitive, it may make strategic sense for certain companies to encourage international imitation. For example, in many developing countries, Internet penetration is low, and imitators are implementing educational initiatives to help promote e-commerce. If an innovator decides to expand abroad, it may be able to jump into an existing market developed by imitators as opposed to having to create one from scratch. Assuming the innovator can effectively differentiate itself, this may result in cost savings that offset the market share lost to the international imitator (for more on this, check out the paper by Kathleen R. Conner referenced in the appendix).

Finally, it was interesting to note that nearly all of the founders I talked to were passionate about their market or had significant, relevant industry experience. As the companies I spoke with all had reached some level of success, this suggests that founder-product fit is important even for execution entrepreneurship ventures. As opposed to simply “cloning” a successful business, these founders seemed to have seen exciting trends occurring in markets they already knew or loved, and decided that they’d like to be a part of creating that trend abroad. I highly doubt whether this is true of all the Groupon, Pinterest, AirBnB, and Square clones around the world, but to lump all execution entrepreneurs together is to miss the founders who truly believe in what they are doing and are approaching their local markets in innovative ways.


Conner, Kathleen R.. “Obtaining Strategic Advantage from Being Imitated: When Can Encouraging “Clones” Pay?.” Management Science 41.2 (1995): 209-225. Print.


Cultural Dimensions (Hofstede):
PDI – Power Distance
IDV – Individuality
MAS – Masculinity
UAI – Uncertainty Avoidance
LTO – Long-term Orientation / Confucianism\


Casey Rosengren

Casey is currently on leave from the University of Pennsylvania while working on a startup in Tokyo, Japan. His interests include lean methodologies, international entrepreneurship, the intersection of strategy and culture, and making the world a better place through e-commerce. He is also passionate about sesame seeds and avocados.

Entrepreneurial Careers and Happiness

by Ethan Mollick

Does becoming an entrepreneur make MBAs happy?  Some early results from a study I am working on with Matthew Bidwell (also at Wharton), seems to suggest that it does.

To get the data, we surveyed 30,000 Wharton MBAs about their career histories, and around 28% of grads since 1990 filled out the survey.  We then performed a variety of statistical checks to confirm that the data was representative, which it was.  We have been using the data in a lot of ways, but, since I study entrepreneurship, I was particularly interested in how the careers of Wharton students affected their chances of becoming entrepreneurs, and their success at entrepreneurship.

One piece of news is that entrepreneurship is very common among Wharton MBAs, with over 20% having a stint as an entrepreneur at some point in their career. Also surprising were the types of companies that Wharton MBAs found.  The top 10 most common industries are less finance-heavy than you might expect from Wharton:

2.Internet Products or Services
4.Private Equity
5.Real Estate
6.Business Services
7.Investment Management
9.Financial Consulting
MBA founders also appear to be a lot happier than people who have not started a company.  If you look at the graph below, you will see that entrepreneurs (the green bars) are more satisfied with their careers and with their jobs than non-entrepreneurs.  The effect persists even after we control for earnings and for years of experience (money and age both tend to make people happier).
The lessons from these results? Wharton MBAs often found companies, even when they weren’t originally planning on doing so early in their careers.  And those people who do go on to start their own businesses are happier with their careers, jobs, and work-family balance than any other group of MBAs (though Wharton MBAs seem to be a pretty happy bunch overall).

What’s it Like Being an Intern with a Startup?

Updates from our Entrepreneurial Intern Fellows are in! These are University of Pennsylvania undergraduates and Wharton MBA first-year students who are interning with start-ups this summer.  Below are brief descriptions (in their own words) of their experiences so far from undergrads Patrick Yang, Brian Park, and Sohum Doshi and from MBA student, Tom Baldwin.

In the past month, I have done everything except for what I expected to be doing this summer. Working at a materials science startup, I thought I’d be running experiments, collecting data, and trying to refine the method for graphene production that my company, Graphene Frontiers, is exploring. In retrospect, that was quite a naive expectation! Our lab isn’t even fully set up yet, and over the last few weeks I have done a bit of everything trying to help the lab come together: I’ve spent hours looking up prices for various parts and chemicals, written an executive summary/one-pager about the company for distribution to potential partners, and even took a bit of time unpacking all of the packages that are coming into our rented lab space. I’m actually pretty happy with the way things are turning out, because I know I’ll get to start experimentation really soon when our lab finally has all of the necessary equipment, but I’m also glad for the exposure I’m getting to the variety of things that need to be done at a young startup!

–Patrick Yang (W’14/C’14).  Interning with Graphene Frontiers


I have had the pleasure of working as a Product Management Intern for Ryzing, an innovative, online social gaming startup. Coming in, I knew that I was going to receive an all-encompassing and immersive experience with an incredible team, but I could have never expected to see an acquisition occur during the course my internship. Before I joined Ryzing, the company was working with social gaming company and publisher, RockYou, on Ryzing’s product, Bingo By Ryzing. After working with the product and the team, this partnership eventually catalyzed the acquisition for Ryzing. About two-thirds of the way through my time at Ryzing, the CEO brought the team together and informed us that the deal had finalized and that we were officially employees of RockYou. It was amazing to see the hard work and great ideas of the Ryzing team come to fruition and result in a successful acquisition. The metaphorical “icing on the cake” definitely had to be the various articles written about the acquisition on VentureBeat and TechCrunch. All in all, my experience at Ryzing has been an amazing opportunity that has shown me the potential end result for a company with a driven team and a great product.

–Brian Park (W’13). Interning with Ryzing


Nestled in the heart of the New York City tech scene, Kargo is a 30-person mobile marketing start-up whose mission is to become the preferred network for ad agencies and brands. Perhaps what has surprised me most about working here has been the assortment of tasks that I have received. I have done relatively mundane work, like compiling simple reporting documents for advertisers or using my iphone to ensure quality assurance for ad placements, and I’ve have done awesome, extremely rewarding work. Building important analytics tools to measure the company’s performance, running advertising campaigns across our mobile websites for large brand, and even having the opportunity to work with Google to create a product that could potentially shape the direction of this nascent industry. Sitting in on the meetings between Kargo and larger corporations has taught me an important lesson. Start-ups can use their specialization in a particular area as a source of strength at the bargaining table, even though they have less manpower, smaller budgets, and generally less clout than large corporations.

One of the things that attracted me to Kargo was its niche in the mobile web, an area that is yet to be developed. This sentiment still holds true a month into my internship. Every day TechCrunch features another ad network or mobile marketing company who has received venture funding or gone public— someday soon that could be Kargo.

–Sohum Doshi (W’14), Interning with Kargo


One of the most exciting aspects of working at a startup is the sheer diversity of experiences you will have. This summer, I’m working at a Sao Paulo-based fashion eCommerce startup called olook ( Among other things, I’ve attended a fashion photo shoot, visited family-owned shoe production operations in Brazil’s “deep south,” sat in on a meeting with the head of Brazil’s largest media company, and developed an elaborate excel model to analyze olook’s customer lifetime value and cost of customer acquisition (by the way, here is an excellent post on how to model CLV and COCA).

Among all the experiences I’ve had, one is particularly emblematic of just how unpredictable the startup lifestyle can be. It was a typical Sao Paulo winter day – bright and sunny, the roads clogged with heavy traffic – and Peter Ostroske (fellow Whartonite and the company’s co-founder and co-CEO) asked me if I knew how to drive stick shift. He and the company’s head of logistics had a rented a manual transmission car to drive out to our warehouse, but neither of them were very good when it came to driving stick. It had been quite a while since I had gotten behind the wheel of a manual transmission vehicle (let alone in a city with traffic as intimidating as Sao Paulo’s), but I strapped myself in and prepared for an adventure! After an hour and a half of navigating around slow-moving tractor-trailers and swarms of “moto-boys” (motorcycle delivery boys), we finally arrived at our warehouse on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. We ended up having a fantastic meeting with our warehouse team, and I learned a tremendous amount about the complexities of eCommerce fulfillment in Brazil. Attached is a picture of some olook products (shoes, bags and accessories), on a pallet and awaiting shipment to Brazilian consumers. Just another day in the life of a startup intern!  To learn more about my startup adventures in Brazil, you can follow me on twitter @thomas_baldwin.

–Thomas Baldwin (WG’13). Interning with olook

Wharton MBAs Pursuing Entrepreneurial Careers

By Maria Halpern

Nirav Shroff (WG’12)

When we survey Wharton grads on their reasons for starting a business after b-school, the most common response is that they want to do something they are truly passionate about.  It’s been exciting to see so many Wharton MBAs following their passion these days – we’ve already heard from over 40 graduates from the Class of 2012 who are starting ventures across a variety of industries including Healthcare, Energy, Retail, Consumer Products, and Technology.  This represents about 5% of the graduating class (and to put that number into context… that means that more Wharton MBAs are becoming entrepreneurs than hedge fund managers).

Other trends we are seeing by way of entrepreneurial careers at Wharton include:



Miriam Raisner (WG’13)

1. Wharton MBAs working at startups– Not only are students starting their own businesses, but they are also aggressively pursuing full-time and internship roles at startups.  This year, over 60 Wharton MBAs are interning at startups (compared to 40 last year) and another 25 have accepted full-time positions at hot startups such as Etsy, Uber, Box, and inMobi.  Many students are opting to work at VC-backed startups and while the most popular industry is Technology/Consumer Internet,

several students have landed exciting startup roles in Cleantech, Healthcare, Retail, and Media.

Nirav Shroff (WG’12) accepted a Mobile Business Development position at Cloud Computing startup Box. Miriam Raisner (WG’13) is interning at ZocDoc this summer, with a focus on Content Marketing.


Omar Seyal (WG’11)

2. Incubator/accelerator programs – We’ve seen more Wharton graduates and students gain acceptance to prestigious incubator and accelerator programs such as TechStars, Y-Combinator, DreamIt, and GoodCompanyVentures. In the past two years alone, over a dozen Wharton businesses were accepted to these highly competitive programs, which not only provide seed funding, but also introductions to potential investors and access to influential alumni networks.  Many of the students accepted to these programs were also taking advantage of Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program, which provided a great launching pad for them to advance to this next step.

Omar Seyal (WG’11), is co-founder of a Y-Combinator-backed startup called tagstand, which raised $1.1MM in funding last year from notable angels including Yuri Milner, SV Angel, and Naval Ravikant.


Julie Lamba (WG’13)

3. Wharton alumni entrepreneurs hiring Wharton MBAs – Wharton alumni are playing a huge role in shaping the next wave of Wharton MBA entrepreneurs. Many alumni are hiring Wharton students to work for their companies upon graduation, over the summer, or during the school year.  This is a trend that we hope will continue as more students come into Wharton with entrepreneurial aspirations.

Julie Lamba (WG’13), is leveraging her pre-MBA background in Education as a summer intern at General Assembly, a global network of campuses for entrepreneurs co-founded by Jake Schwartz (WG’08).



Jonathan Lyons (WG’11)

Jonathan Lyons (WG’11), recently accepted a business development position at an early-stage startup called Gridium, an energy analytic services firm, which was launched last year by Tom Arnold (WG’05) and Adam Stein (WG’05).  Tom and Adam previously co-founded a company together called TerraPass.



















Maria Halpern is Director, Student Engagement and Career Advisor for students interested in Entrepreneurship in Wharton’s MBA Career Management (MBACM) office.  During her time at Wharton, she has implemented new ways to track student satisfaction with MBACM services and worked closely with Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs to provide more resources for students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial career paths.  Maria graduated from Wharton’s undergraduate program with a dual concentration in Marketing and Management.

Twitter: @mariahalpern

VIP San Francisco Team Pursues Online Security

By Irina Yuen

WEP’s Venture Initiation Program, an educational incubator for Penn startups, has expanded to include teams from the MBA Program for Executives at Wharton | San Francisco.

Teams receive coaching and assistance from a board of advisors, including Wharton faculty and alumni, and are also expected to help each other through group advising sessions that are led by Wharton professor Len Lodish. Six teams from the MBA Program for Executives have been accepted into the Summer 2012 term.   They represent a wide range of markets and opportunities.

This week, we highlight one of the teams, Securly.

Securly, a venture co-founded by Vinay Mahadik (WG’13) and Bharath Madhusudan, keeps kids safe online by not only blocking adult sites, but also by providing a unique safe browsing experience on popular sites including Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Wikipedia. Vinay and Bharath are network security veterans with over seventeen years of collective security experience with major players such as McAfee and Huawei. This allows them to bring to parents the type of security that previously was limited only to enterprise networks, and with an easy one-step installation.

Vinay and Bharath established co-founder chemistry by being part-time entrepreneurs together since 2006.  They had previously built, a professional networking site for musicians, featured in several Indian magazines.  In addition, they had recently built a personalized product recommendations mobile application.  By founding Securly, they have returned to their domain expertise area, network security.

Incubating at Wharton

Vinay founded Securly with Bharath two terms into his MBA program for Executives at Wharton | San Francisco.  “So far, the timing couldn’t have felt better. Right when we were conceptualizing Securly, Professor David Bell’s class introduced the value of segmentation, targeting and positioning.  Professor Srinivasan’s conjoint analysis class then allowed us to identify benefit segments within the consumer market we could target with the right set of features. Professor Jeff Dyer and David Bryce’s class on competitive strategy provided a framework for understanding the competitive forces and also strategies on going up against larger incumbents,” says Vinay.

Vinay and Bharath, Founders of Securly

Securly was named a semi-finalist team in the Wharton Business Plan Competition, and also ranked amongst the top four teams in Wharton | San Francisco’s Spring Pitch event.  “[The Spring Pitch] gave us access to 20+ judges who were either partners at top VC firms or successful entrepreneurs within a matter of weeks [of launching our beta],” reflects Vinay. Securly was recently admitted into Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program (VIP) in San Francisco, which has helped to further the venture on multiple fronts.  “First, we meet twice a month for a group advising session where all the founders discuss top issues they are facing. Tips from our peers in the program allowed us to get past the mental block that hiring talented folks is hard for an early stage startup – in fact, we ended up hiring two interns, headed to CS programs at MIT and CMU at the end of the summer. Second, VIP also got us in touch with Ashmeet Sidana (WG’03), General Partner from Foundation Capital, who will mentor us on a monthly basis through the various stages of our growth,” states Vinay.

Securly continues to iterate its product and marketing efforts and recently pivoted its focus to include K-12 schools in addition to consumers.  Since launching in May 2012, Securly was accepted into Imagine K12, a sister accelerator to Y-Combinator focused on education, and is looking forward to unveiling its product during Imagine K12’s demo day in September.

Please join us in wishing them and our other teams – who we will be writing about in the future – every success.


Wharton Entrepreneurs in Brazil

By Megan Mitchell

Earlier this month, TechCrunch ran a fantastic profile of the hot Brazilian start-up The company was founded by cousins Davis Smith (WG’11/G’11) and Kimball Thomas and was the 3rd place finisher in the 2011 Wharton Business Plan Competition.  adapted the model (founded by Wharton alumnus Marc Lore and Vinit Bharara C’93 in the fast growing Brazilian market., now more than 100 employees strong, was, by its third month of operation, receiving more than a million visitors a month and shipping 1,000 orders a day. The company has continued to see monthly double digit growth ever since.

Davis is just one of the many Wharton people defining the start-up landscape in Brazil. Peixe Urbano is the daily deals site that took home the 2011 TechCrunch Crunchies Award for the Best International Start-Up. Co-founded by Julio Vasconcellos (W’02), the company has raised funding from institutional investors as diverse as Benchmark Capital, Monashees Capital, General Atlantic, Tiger Global Management, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and T. Rowe Price. Widely recognized as the top venture capital firm in Brazil, Monashees Capital (also an early investor in has kept its ties to Wharton strong. Another company in the Monashees portfolio, Elo7, is an online marketplace for buying and selling handcrafted goods. Following a stint at MercadoLibre, Carlos Curioni (WG’06) was brought on board as CEO of this fast growing company. After interning at Monashees in the summer of 2011, Peter Ostroske decided to take a leave of absence from the Wharton MBA program in order to launch olook, an e-commerce fashion brand for the Brazilian market; Monashees was one of Pete’s seed investors.

Lisa Lovallo (WG’13/G’13), co-founder, Hemishare

Brazil isn’t just a draw for Wharton alums. Current students are equally as focused on the region. Current Lauder Program students, Lisa Lovallo (WG’13/G’13) and Marcus Anderson (WG’13/G’13) are co-founders of Hemishare, a Wharton Venture Initiation Program company, that connects top-tier employers in Brazil with international candidates who have studied Portuguese and are eager to work in the region. WEP awarded Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowships to two first-year MBA students interning in Brazil: Nicholast Molina at, and Tom Baldwin at olook. Brett Lewis (WG’13) is one of two candidates selected to participate in a unique summer associate program at Monashees Capital this summer. Brett’s internship will be divided into 3 one-month projects during which he will: 1) analyze a specific market segment and develop an investment thesis for the firm; 2) source new investment opportunities and perform due diligence; and 3) lead a project for one of the firm’s portfolio companies. Also interning in Brazil this summer is Ariel Quinones (WG’13), at online furniture retailer

When I visited Brazil last month as part of the Wharton Global Immersion Program, I had a chance to catch up with many of these folks; their excitement and passion was profound, and it is easy to understand why they are drawn to this market. I’m excited to witness Wharton’s impact in this rapidly developing economy — now and into the future.