Launch Pad: Startup Challenge Special


We’ve got a special edition of Launch Pad this week, featuring the top three winning teams from the Penn Wharton Startup Challenge!

Karl Ulrich talks with:

  • Perlman Grand Prize winners Joseph Quan, WG’17 and Nikhil Srivastava, WG’17, founders of Twine;
  • Second Prize winner Thomas Uhler, C’19, W’19, founder of RightAir;
  • Third Prize winners Mitch Gainer, WG’18 and Marc Giesener, WG’18, founders of CitySense.


Twine is, in Joseph’s words, “HR software specifically for internal hiring. We’ve noticed that really large companies have great tools for external hiring, like LinkedIn, but at the same time, they sit on pretty rich databases about their internal employees. And there’s no good analytics or recommendation layer that sits on top of that to actually help them find the best internal candidates or internal employees. So that’s exactly what we’ve built.

“We’ve built — first of all, Twine as connective tissue, that will aggregate data from a number of different HR databases. Your ATS, which is your applicant tracking system, your HRS, your human resources information systems, your LRS, your learning management systems — to create this consolidated view and unified profile of all the open roles that are inside your organization and every single employee that could fit those roles. And then, the second thing we’ve actually built is this analytics and recommendation layer that sits on top of that data, that makes it really, really easy for any recruiter or hiring manager to log into Twine Systems. Essentially see, hey, here are the rules or requisitions that I’m recruiting for, here is this algorithmically generated smart list of five to ten recommendations of people I should be tapping for those roles.”

RightAir Logo

Thomas explains that RightAir, “addresses COPD, which is also called emphysema, and in the U.S. that has a population around fifteen million with two million of those patients having severe COPD, where they are unable to even walk up a flight of stairs because it so severely affects the respiratory system. So this is a big issue with quality of life for patients, but it’s also a big financial burden on the health care system because these patients typically incur about $30,000 of a—in a hospital visit, and they have a remittance rate of about—one in five COPD patients are readmitted 30 days after their initial visit which adds up very quickly. What our device does is it enables—it uses pressures to make it easier for the patients to both breathe in and breathe out, that improves their quality of life and makes them more active. But it also addresses the health care burden in that more—the biggest factor in lowering readmission rates for COPD patients is activity and exercise. So we believe that the solution of enabling patients to become more active will both improve the quality of life for the individual patient and also help out insurers in the health care system overall.”


Finally, Mitch has a succinct pitch for CitySense: “Municipal water utilities lose $14 billion every year from water loss — leaks, faulty meters, water theft. CitySense provides analytic services that identify and stops this waste.”

Listen to hear all three dig into their business models and origin stories with Karl, and you’ll quickly get why these three companies were our big winners at the Startup Showcase!