Setting Sail for Success

Lucy Zhang WG’16 and Lucy Peng WG’16, Co-founders of SetSail received a $10,000 Wharton Venture Award to work on their startup over the summer. Near the end of the summer, we asked them a few questions about their progress.

The SetSail team at work.
The SetSail team at work.

What does your startup do? Has your startup changed over the summer?

SetSail is an education company that teaches critical thinking, public speaking, and culture skills to Chinese students, providing them with the skills and confidence needed to succeed in the United States. This vision remained consistent throughout the summer. However, the exact class structure and pricing changed as we learned more about the market’s needs.

What have you used the Wharton Venture Award for this summer?

We spent the summer in China, developing our product and furthering our understanding of the market. Throughout the summer, we taught over 40 students in four different Chinese cities. Our classes received very strong reviews (our surveys show a Net Promoter Score of 56). Additionally, we made numerous contacts with schools and companies in the education industry, many of whom have explicitly expressed interest in formalizing partnerships with us.

Describe one great entrepreneurial moment you had over the summer.

One student, named Loxie, made a particular impression on me. Loxie is from Mianyang, a third tier city in China. She is a strong student who wants to study in the United States but has never dared to dream of attending a top college. “No one from Mianyang goes to an Ivy League school,” she said to me. Over the course of our interactions, I saw in her the intellectual curiosity and aptitude reminiscent of our top students in Beijing, and even of my previous classmates at Harvard College. By the end of the class, Loxie had the confidence to aim for the best schools and asked me to write her a recommendation, which I happily consented to do. 

What comes next for your startup? How do you plan to continue working on it over the school year?

We plan to launch our full, paid classes in a few months. During the fall, we will be hiring teachers, obtaining student sign-ups, and forming partnerships.