Ten New Ventures Join the Ranks of the Wharton Venture Initiation Program

By Emily Cieri, Managing Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship

As we are beginning a new semester I’m excited to share an update on the Wharton Venture Initiation Program (VIP), our educational incubator that supports Penn students.  We accept applications three times a year and this past December received 42 applications in Philadelphia and 6 in San Francisco.  Following the multi-round selection process 8 new ventures in Philadelphia and 2 in San Francisco were accepted and started this January.  There are some very novel concepts in the new batch that include:

  • The ability to talk to your nurse, anywhere, anytime
  • A B2B distributor of spare machine parts that are printed on-site using 3-D printers
  • Frozen smoothie bites

These also give you an idea of the diversity of the ventures that students are building.  Below is information about the new ventures joining VIP while the full list of new and continuing ventures can be found here.  With our new crew, VIP is supporting 35 ventures and over 50 students in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

I’d also like to share the press coverage that our current and alumni VIPs are receiving and have included below press coverage from November and December. It’s quite impressive and will give you a sense of the impact these young entrepreneurs are making in the world.

Wharton VIP – New Program Members for Spring Semester 2013

New VIP Members Spring 2013
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Press Coverage – Current and alumni VIP members and other Penn entrepreneurs from November and December 2012

  • TechCrunch: Venture Initiation Program company CommonBond, founded by David Klein & Mike Taormina (both WG’13) and Jessup Shean (WG’12/JD’12), raised $3.5M and launched at Wharton – “CommonBond aims to bring the power of crowdsourcing to bear on student debt by connecting student borrowers and alumni investors and offering loans at a lower fixed rate than what they’d find with Uncle Sam.”
  • TechCrunch: FundersClub, co-founded by Boris Silver W’10 & Alex Mittal ENG’07/W’07, has just closed a $6 million seed round – the largest ever by a Y Combinator company.
  • 4 Penn/Wharton alumni companies named to the Philly 100– the 100 fastest growing companies in Philadelphia:
    • #22 Henry A. Davidsen: Master Tailors & Image Consultants (founder & President Brian Lipstein C’06)
    • ##34 – Petplan Pet Insurance (USA) (co-founders & co-CEOs Chris and Natasha Ashton, both WG’03)
    • #71 – TicketLeap (founder & CEO Chris Stanchak WEV’03)
    • MBA Channel: The growth of Baby.com.br, co-founded by Davis Smith G’11/WG’11, underscores the emergence of Brazil as a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.
    • Philadelphia Magazine names a number of Penn/Wharton students and alums to its list of the Smartest People in Philadelphia, including: Evan Rosenbaum W’14 of EKR Media, Puneet Maheshwari WG’09 of DocASAP,
    • Philly.com profiles Wharton Venture Initiation Program member Alejandro Gac-Artigas (2011 Masters in Education) and his venture Springboard Collaborative, “a comprehensive summer reading program that has the potential to eradicate the [student] achievement gap.”
    • TechCircle.in: “SnapDeal (founded by Kunal Bahl ENG’07/W’07) claims to be [India’s] largest e-commerce marketplace, doing a projected annual GMV of $300 million this fiscal, and is aiming to achieve $1 billion in GMV by 2015.”
    • Under30CEO names Stylyt founders Nina Cherny & Jenny Wu (both G11/WG11) as Young Entrepreneurs to Watch in NYC
    • FinSMEs: Venture Initiation Program alum VerbalizeIt (co-founders Ryan Frankel WG’12 & Kunal Sarda WG’11) raised $1.5M in funding.
    • Kembrel (founded by Stephan Jacob G’11/WG’11, Cherif Habib G’11/WG’11 and Aymeric de Hemptinne G’11/WG’11), Curalate (founded by Apu Gupta WG’05) and Lokalty (founded by Balu Chandrasekaran WG’12) featured on Business Insider‘s list of the Coolest New Businesses in Philadelphia.
    • CNBC: “Upstart eyewear company Warby Parker is focused on growth, quick product delivery and learning lessons from peers in the broad retail space, Co-Founder and Co-CEO Neil Blumenthal [WG’10] said.”