Sponsored by Eric Aroesty, C’92

April 30, 2021

The Top 30 Startup Challenge teams compete in the Semifinals –

8 Finalist Teams compete in the Finals!

2020- 2021 Startup Challenge
All events will be held online.

Startup Challenge Finals:  Friday, April 30, 2021

Startup Challenge Semifinals: Friday, April 23, 2021

Venture Lab is grateful to Eric Aroesty C’92, whose generous donation supports the Startup Challenge.

Caring for Our Furry Friends: My Virtual Veterinarian Wins $30,000 Perlman Grand Prize in Virtual Startup Challenge

Felicity Johnson of My Virtual Veterinarian
Felicity Johnson (WG’20), Founder & CEO, My Virtual Veterinarian


PHILADELPHIA, May 4, 2020 – Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce the winner of the fourth annual Startup Challenge, sponsored by Eric Aroesty, C’92: My Virtual Veterinarian, founded by Felicity Johnson (WG’20) and advised by John Hurst (WG’20, V’20). A virtual veterinary portal for pet owners, My Virtual Veterinarian makes it possible for pets to receive the care they need, when they need it. Due to the global health crisis surrounding COVID-19, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship held the competition in a virtual setting on May 1 and 2, 2020, following the leadership of the University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School.

My Virtual Veterinarian connects pet parents with veterinarians for video and chat appointments, providing a unique solution during the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson founded the company after experiencing time-consuming medical visits when her cat Tiffany was diagnosed with cancer. Through the My Virtual Veterinarian iOS app, pet parents can access their primary veterinarian, or find a different veterinarian who is available for virtual veterinary appointments, and schedule a convenient appointment time. This flexibility extends to the veterinarians, who can schedule appointments that fit their schedule, avoid unnecessary office visits and access new customers.

My Virtual Veterinarian was selected from the field of Eight Finalist teams—including tropical fruit ice cream and curated flower rental companies—who advanced from the nearly 30 Semifinalists during Day 1 of the competition. Day 1 consisted of several hours of Semifinalist virtual pitching and Q&A in front of alumni entrepreneurs and investor panels. On Day 2, Finalists pitched a panel of judges with the public able to view via live streaming. More than 170 viewers from across the globe tuned in to watch teams compete for over $135,000 in cash and prizes to launch their startups

The Startup Challenge marks the end to another exciting year of entrepreneurship across the Penn community. Students engaged in entrepreneurial programming are founding, developing, and scaling companies utilizing the multitude of resources available within the Penn and Philadelphia ecosystems. Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship is proud to continue to be a leader in entrepreneurship education, with plans to open Tangen Hall, the university’s first dedicated space for cross-campus entrepreneurship and innovation, in the coming year.

The 2020 Startup Challenge winners are:

  1. Perlman Grand Prize: $30,000 + $15,000 in legal, accounting and strategy services to My Virtual Veterinarian
  2. Runner-up: $15,000 + $15,000 in legal, accounting, and strategy services to Percepta
  3. Innovation Award: $10,000 + $15,000 in legal, accounting, and strategy services to MAR Designs
  4. Launch Prize: $10,000 + $15,000 in legal, accounting, and strategy services to Frutero Ice Cream
  5. Frederick H. Gloeckner Award for Best Undergraduate Team: $10,000 Percepta
  6. Robert S. Blank New Venture Collaboration Award: $10,000 to Percepta
  7. Social Impact Prize: $10,000 to Metal Light
  8. Crowd Favorite: $2500 to Open Laboratories
  9. Crowd Favorite: $2500 to Percepta

Questions? Email Cathy Ogur.

Find the resource you need now!

Sort all resources by type or location

Meet with staff

Upcoming entrepreneurial events