Reflections of a New VIP Member: To Good Beginnings and Sound Sailings!

By Tess Michaels C’15/W’15, Founder of Soceana

Editor’s note: Tess Michaels was recently accepted into our educational incubator, the Venture Initiation Program. We asked her to reflect on why she wanted to join VIP, and what she hopes to gain from the experience.

On my 21st birthday, I learned a doozy of a lesson from a serial entrepreneur. If I want my company to be valuable, I must have a secret—one that results from charting an uncommon vision and exploring uncharted frontiers. The advice came from Peter Thiel, who was in Philly for a book signing.

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$7500 Each to Tesorio and Take Command Health

By Nadine Kavanaugh, Associate Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship

The spring is an action-packed time for Wharton Entrepreneurship. The Venture Finals capped another exciting year of our Business Plan Competition, the Wharton Venture Award was given out, and a new class of Venture Initiation Program members was admitted.

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Read more $7500 Each to Tesorio and Take Command Health

A Walk and Talk with Prof. Kartik Hosanagar

Wharton Professor Kartik Hosanagar invites students to join him for his walk home from work. Katlyn Grasso W’16, founder of GenHERation, Venture Initiation Program member, Wharton Venture Award winner, walked with him one night, and they talked about her interest in social entrepreneurship.

Talks like this between professors and students are what make the Wharton experience truly exceptional—and turn aspiring entrepreneurs in to founders. Click here for their Walk and Talk.

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ChargeItSpot: The Next Indispensable Retail Service?

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Wharton Magazine blog.

By Matthew Brodsky, Editor, Wharton Magazine

Doug Baldasare, WG’12, laughs now about the first time he delivered a ChargeItSpot machine, Aug. 12, 2012, to the Whole Foods market in Jenkintown, a suburb of Philadelphia. He pulled up in a rented Ford Fusion, lugged the machine into place, and waited and hoped for the first customer interaction—any interaction. In the first six hours, more than 50 people engaged with the kiosk. Since, Baldasare has forged partnerships with local retailers such as Urban Outfitters, and he’s conducted informal research to prove correlation between charging phones in-store and sales (including shadowing customers in-store and taking notes himself). But Baldasare needed confirmation—if you give consumers a place to charge their mobile devices, securely and for free, will they shop longer and spend more?

A ChargeItSpot device in action at an Urban Outfitter store.
A ChargeItSpot device in action at an Urban Outfitter store.

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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.

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What Cooperative Robots Can Do For Us: Dick Zhang at TEDxPenn

By Nadine Kavanaugh, Associate Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship

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Last fall, TEDxPenn: Creating the Sound took attendees, me among them, into a fascinating world of sound and technology. Among the speakers was Penn alumnus Dick Zhang, co-founder of Identified Technologies—a member of the Venture Initiation Program, finalist and winner of the Committee Award for Best Use of Technology in the 2014 Wharton Business Plan Competition, and winner of the 2012 Y-Prize. I blogged about my experience at TEDxPenn here; now you can see Dick’s talk yourself: Read more What Cooperative Robots Can Do For Us: Dick Zhang at TEDxPenn

Advice to Graduating Entrepreneurs

By Thanh Pham C’14, founder of fashion startup Jean & Isola

For many of us student entrepreneurs, graduation marks an exciting time—the finish line of academia and the beginning of a full-time career in entrepreneurship. Without the time limitations of academic commitments and physical limitations of university, postgraduate life offers the freedom to fully and freely invest our time.

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