New frontiers for Wharton Entrepreneurship: VIP expands to Wharton SF

by Emily Cieri, Managing Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship

For the past six years I have been part of the VIP selection committee. We hear pitches from students across Penn’s campus and students at our Wharton San Francisco campus who have a venture they’ve been developing and are in the early stages of launching.

Over the years there are a few interesting things we’ve noticed. One is that Penn and Wharton entrepreneurs are really a microcosm for the rest of the world. We see many similar trends on campus to the broader economy and we see similar shifts in venture themes. This cycle, it was modifications to the Kickstarter concept, where few years ago it was it was building ventures focused on social networks.

This year marked our first joint submission process across our two campuses. The Philadelphia pool included Wharton MBA and undergraduate students as well as students from Engineering, the School of Arts & Sciences, and the Law School.  The SF applicant pool included current Executive MBA students, Exec MBAs who graduated this past May (in San Francisco, we allow Exec students to apply up to one year post graduation) and MBA students participating in the Semester in San Francisco.

Here’s how the pitch process works: Students submit a written application that includes a business overview and 2- minute video which is reviewed by the selection committee. Those selected give a 2 minutes live pitch followed by 2 minutes of Q&A from the committee. We keep the timing tight so roughly every 5 minutes a new group of student presenters come to the front of the room. As you could imagine, this is a lot of fun and quite interesting – in a typical cycle we hear from 30-40 applicants.

This fall, after the dust settled, we accepted 9 new ventures, including two Wharton Venture Award winners from the summer (they receive automatic acceptance into VIP).  In San Francisco, 6 new ventures were accepted.  The new ventures are listed below.  You’ll find a complete VIP list on our site here.  Congrats to all who participated in the process this semester.  We recognize the hard work that goes into each of the steps including the application, video and a live pitch–which may be the first pitch for many students.

Wharton Venture Initiation Program Philadelphia
Fall Semester 2012 New Members
Entrepreneurs Venture
Jon Dussel (WG’13) & Stephen Lau (WG’13) We are your social filter for the internet; we help you find, collect and share the stuff you and your friends actually care about.
Deepa Gandhi (WG’13) Dagne Dover: Personalized Luxury. Effortless Organization. Chic Competence.  The only handbag that has evolved as much as you have.
Daniel Fine (W’15) Glass-U: Custom sunglasses for students, fans, and more. Fully Folding. Completely Affordable. Totally You. Glass-U.
Zachary Dennett (WG’13) & Eduardo Mestre (WG’13) Knowtorious: Knowtorious is a head-to-head trivia app. Brands sponsor questions, so the app also serves as an innovative ad
Dorie Golkin (WG’13) & Emelyn Northway (WG’13) Of Mercer: Of Mercer is an online women’s fashion brand that designs stylish, feminine work wear for modern women: the new power suit.
Betty Hsu (WG’14) & Ivan Chang ProfessorWord: Get definitions with a click. Find SAT vocab on any page. We make it easy to learn new words while you surf the web!
Robert Snowberger (WG’14) Project NMSET: Nano molecular solid-state electrodynamic thrusters: poised to revolutionize the aviation industry through innovations in lift and thrust.
Kalefe Wright (WG’13) SprFlwr: SprFlwr is a natural beverage company bringing the great taste and healthy properties of sorrel hibiscus to America.
Ashish Parikh (WG’13) Whamix: Whamix is an authoring tool and platform for publishers to create and distribute interactive content for tablets.


Wharton | San Francisco Venture Initiation Program
Fall Semester 2012 New Members 
Entrepreneurs Venture
Vishy Venugopalan (WG’13, SiSF) & Akshay Bhushan (WG’13, SiSF)  Caffeine Analytics: Enables online merchants to supercharge their customer acquisition and retention activities.
Sanju Pancholi (WG’12, WEMBA 36) CarCopia: Ecommerce platform that takes consumers direct to wholesale auctions, eliminating friction in the buying process.
Vijay Ramani (WG’13, WEMBA 37) SocialMoola: A benchmark for measuring social capital generated from meeting friends in the real world.
Parry Bedi (WG’12, WEMBA 36) & Sami Kaipa (WG’12, WEMBA 36) SocialGlimpz: The world’s first social platform dedicated to showing companies how their consumers live.
Guilherme Filho (WG’13, SiSF)  Perceptool: The most complete tool for companies to manage and understand their presence in the digital ecosystem.
Satya Tammareddy (WG’13,  SiSF) & Ami Naik
(WG’13, SiSF)
Travspire: An online platform for international travelers to access and book unique and offbeat experiences in India.

SiSF – Semester in San Francisco
WEMBA – Wharton Executive MBA


One comment on “New frontiers for Wharton Entrepreneurship: VIP expands to Wharton SF

  1. Unbelievable to see so many new initiatives coming out of Wharton, especially on the ecommerce and fashion front. Well done Emily and Team on continuing to foster the entrepreneurial spirit at Penn and Wharton!

    John Lusk

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