Wharton Venture Award: A Judge’s Perspective

Note: This was originally posted on the Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog 3/31/ 2015

This year was my second opportunity to serve as a judge for the Wharton Venture Awards.  In addition to working with a great team of fellow judges to select the award recipients, I also have the opportunity to continue to follow the progress of the students. After last year’s program, I was able to act as a mentor to one of the recipients, Katlyn Grasso, CEO and Founder of GenHERation. The progress she has made on GenHeration is amazing and I was thrilled to learn that Katlyn had recently been awarded the University’s “President’s Engagement Prize” which not only validates her business proposal but also provides funding to help her actually build her business. As an active angel investor, supporting young entrepreneurs and celebrating their successes is one of the most rewarding aspects of being involved in the early-stage ecosystem.

WVA 2015 collage

As a Wharton alum, one of the best ways to become and stay engaged with the University is to see the students in action. Having now been through two judging cycles, I am so impressed with the quality of business ideas and the professionalism of the students as they both present their pitch deck and tackle the Q&A. In addition, I have so enjoyed meeting the other members of the judging panel who span several decades, come from a variety of backgrounds, and yet all share a strong desire to support the entrepreneurial community at Wharton.

Congratulations to all of the winners of this year’s Wharton Venture Awards. I am excited to see the directions that your businesses take and to welcome you all next year to the ranks of Wharton alums!

2015 Wharton Venture Award Winners:

Bobby Virdi (WG’16) 
Bahari Capital
A private equity investment firm focused on building professionalized businesses of scale across sub-Saharan Africa.

Aaron Goldstein (W’16)
Fever Smart 

Fever Smart is a smart patch thermometer that allows users to remotely and continuously monitor temperature.

Emily Motayed (WG’16)

Havenly is a fresh take on interior design – for one flat fee, we set you up with one of our talented interior designers.

Lucy Zhang (WG’16) & Lucy Peng (WG’16)
Set Sail 
Set Sail promotes effective international education by using software and mentorship to help Chinese high school students prepare for and apply to US colleges.

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