Bootstrapping? Invest In Your Employees

By Nigel Lobo W’08/WG’13, CEO and Founder of Quikchex

Quikchecks founder Nigel Lobo W'08/WG'13, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship

As the CEO of Quikchex, a 50 employee, 3 year old bootstrapped Payroll and HR Software startup, I sometimes find it difficult to relate to my fellow founders who have opted in for the VC funded path. Right from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I made a conscious decision to avoid external funding as long as I could. Bootstrapping offers a number of obvious benefits, including greater control on the strategic trajectory of the company. Yet, bootstrapping also has significant drawbacks, the primary one of which is the ability to hire the best (aka most expensive) talent in the market. Read more Bootstrapping? Invest In Your Employees

Penn Grads Meet a Wharton “Angel” on “Make Me A Millionaire Inventor”

By Janie Kim C’19

When Alicia Syrett W’99 met entrepreneurs Matt Lisle ENG’15 and Adrian Lievano ENG’15 on the CNBC show, their Penn bond was the start of a lasting partnership.

Everwaters founders Matt Lisle ENG'15 and Adrian Lievano ENG'15
Everwaters founders Matt Lisle ENG’15 and Adrian Lievano ENG’15

Read more Penn Grads Meet a Wharton “Angel” on “Make Me A Millionaire Inventor”

The missing piece of the VC gender inclusion puzzle

By Karin Klein, Wharton BS and MBA, Annenberg School of Communications BA, Founding Partner, Bloomberg Beta

Women invented windshield wipers, the first computer program, life rafts, wireless transmissions technology, the paper bag, Kevlar, fire escapes and, mind you, chocolate chip cookies. If good ideas had only come from people who looked like the founding fathers, then a wealth of advances and joys might have been delayed or missed entirely.

Rocks Read more The missing piece of the VC gender inclusion puzzle

Three lessons I learned from Fundraising

By David Lindsay, Co-founder of Oncora Medical

If you’re thinking about starting a company with VC money, I have a few tips for you! My company, Oncora Medical, is a Philly-based digital health company that just raised a $1.2M seed round; it builds predictive analytics software for radiation oncologists. While fundraising for Oncora, I learned some valuable lessons.

Lindsay pic 600 x 450

1. Act on good advice. When a venture capitalist takes time out of their day to discuss your business with you, validate them by actually implementing their advice. They may have agreed to introduce you to a potential advisor, key opinion leader, or future collaborator. Follow up with those introductions in a timely manner and try to learn as much as you can from the interaction. If the person you are meeting with gives you a specific suggestion about your product or service, make sure you at least look into the value of their suggestion. If you make progress in the areas that they have identified, you have the perfect excuse to reach back out to them with results. A month or two after the initial email, shoot them a specific update email.

I did this with Oncora after meeting Dr. Gary Kurtzman, the managing director of Safeguard Scientifics’ healthcare practice and lecturer at Wharton. He first took a phone meeting with me back in January of 2015, and strongly advised me to break our “software platform” into three discrete products. Over the next month, our team developed product names (and logos) for the three key components of our software. Dr. Kurtzman is now chairman of our board of directors, and one of my closest advisors.

2. Don’t take low probability shots. One of my advisors once told me something that felt somewhat contrary to the standard sound bite, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Paraphrasing, he basically said, “If you miss a bunch of shots, your coach is going to bench you.” When you ask for money and get a no, that is not a good thing. It lowers your confidence (hopefully not too much), but worse, it can make other VCs think they should say no, too (no one wants to buy something that no one else wants).

You can avoid this problem by not asking your VC contacts for money until you are ready (ask for advice instead). You can also phrase your request for money in the subjective. For example, I would always ask VCs the following question during calls: “for you to make an investment in a company like Oncora, what would you need to see in terms of traction, clinical partnerships, etc?” Then go do what they tell you to do and update them in a month (without being too annoying). Then once you have some traction, start asking.

3. Be genuine and nice. This should go without saying, but don’t lie or exaggerate about your progress. VCs are investing in YOU, not just your idea and your traction. When things go wrong with product development (which they inevitably will), your investors want someone they trust at the wheel. When you are genuine, things are just better.

Bio: David Lindsay is on a leave of absence from the MD/PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania and has a BS in neurobiology and MS in mathematics from UConn. He is one of the founders of Oncora Medical, a health technology startup in Philadelphia.

5 Tips to Help You Raise a Seed Round

By Karthik Sridharan W’07/ENG’07, Co-founder and CEO of Kinnek

For first-time entrepreneurs, raising a seed round can seem like a daunting task.  We went through our own seed fundraise at Kinnek back in December 2012, so I know the difficulties firsthand.  While there’s of course no magic formula or trick that can guarantee you a successful fundraise, there are definitely certain things that helped us tremendously and I wish I had been aware of sooner.  I’ve detailed five tips below that I feel can definitely put you on advantageous footing when it comes to raising a seed round of financing:

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Should An Entrepreneur Get An MBA?

Should An Entrepreneur Get An MBA?

By Eurie Kim WG’09, investor at Forerunner Ventures

When people ask me whether they should get an MBA if they want to start a company, I respond with: It depends. Do you already have an idea and a team? If not, what type of company do you want to start? Have you started a company before? What do you think you will get out of an MBA that you can leverage in the company building process? The answer to the question depends on where you’re starting from and where you’re trying to go.

Forerunner Ventures webpage2

Read more Should An Entrepreneur Get An MBA?

Lean Startup Advice from Steven Blank

By Munish Dayal WG’15

As an avid follower of Steve Blank’s lean startup methodology, I was thrilled to learn that he was going to do a fireside chat on customer discovery and validation, hosted by Professor Len Lodish, at the Wharton Entrepreneurship Annual Summer Reception at WhartonǀSan Francisco. I’ve read up on Blank’s methodologies in my own time and been exposed to them in Professor Ethan Mollick’s Entrepreneurship class, and I’m trying to incorporate his framework in developing my own venture. I’m currently in my second year of Wharton’s EMBA program and a member of Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program (VIP), Wharton’s incubator program for students pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.

Steve Blank chatting with Wharton Professor Len Lodish.
Steve Blank chatting with Wharton Professor Len Lodish.

Read more Lean Startup Advice from Steven Blank