Wharton Startup Week 2021 Pitch Competition
Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Club organized its inaugural pitch competition on February 3, 2021. Seven startups had the opportunity to pitch to a panel of acclaimed professionals - Patrick Chung, Managing General Partner of X Fund, Brandon Farwell, General Partner at X Fund, and KJ Singh, Managing Director of Techstars.
I had the chance to attend the 2-hour virtual competition and was impressed by the range and diversity of ventures, spanning healthcare solutions, fitness, personal care, property management solutions, fintech, and meal delivery services.
The winner of the evening was On House, an online marketplace to find property managers, followed by Moment, a men’s skincare venture. Proyecto Verde took home the coveted People’s Choice Award, and all teams benefited from the judges’ thought-provoking questions, insightful comments, tips for success, and encouragement as they pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Keep reading to learn more about the 7 startups that participated in the event!
Anjali Bhatla, MD/MBA candidate pursuing both cardiology at the Perelman School of Medicine and business at Wharton, along with her team, Quentin Chalvon, Wharton MBA’18, and Jeff Calnen, were the first team of the night to present their pitch. Their startup, Clinicor, is a personalized digital cardiology platform designed to provide effective treatment to heart patients by digitizing the application of Guideline Directed Medical Therapy (GDMT) in clinics by medical professionals.
Patients answer three questions every morning on their phones while using Clinicor’s connected scale and blood pressure cuff. The data is processed and provides treatment recommendations that Clinicor’s nurses review during their telemedicine checkups. If applicable, updated prescriptions are sent directly to the patient’s pharmacy.
According to Clinicor, this is a prime time for digitally-enabled cardiology, as heart failure costs are expected to grow by 57% by 2030. Moreover, there has been an accelerated adoption of telehealth due to COVID-19 and the market’s seeing a shift from fee-for-service to value-based healthcare. Looking forward, Clinicor plans to get more cardiologists on board for their pilot, after which they will target larger healthcare systems and attempt to secure partnerships with insurers.
Co-founded by Sagar Chopra and Aash Chalasani, both Wharton MBA ’22s, Tiffin is a homestyle South Asian meal delivery service, with meals prepared by cooks in the community. The co-founders, both ex-Uber employees, founded the platform with a vision to give immigrants economic opportunity by leveraging technology to monetize their culinary talents.
Tiffin seeks to fill the gap in the market for meal prep and delivery featuring players like HelloFresh, Home Chef and Uber eats, among others, by offering a marketplace connecting chefs with locals who want fresh, authentic South Asian food with minimal prep times. Eaters simply select meal packages from a variety of chefs, choosing from the 3-meal, 6-meal, or 9-meal options. The chefs then cook and package the meals within 48 hours and Tiffin completes delivery so eaters can then heat and enjoy their food throughout the week.
Looking forward, Tiffin wants to continue to take a hyper-focused approach with food safety as its number one priority, and the cofounders hope to validate and refine their product before scaling. They plan to onboard more chefs, explore alternative kitchen solutions, reach target delivery figures within the Penn/Wharton community before expanding to more Universities in Philadelphia, and launch services in NYC by this summer.
Ike Okonkwo and Patrick Prommel, both Wharton MBA’22s, pitched their startup Welltrip, a global healthcare services marketplace that lets customers search through verified and peer-reviewed doctors abroad and book medical appointments at ‘half the US price or less’. According to the team, current problems in the medical tourism industry include the lack of trust in medical practitioners, language barriers, and the lack of efficient tech-enabled solutions for patients.
Welltrip’s platform aims to solve these problems by giving patients access to dental, orthopedic, and cosmetic procedures abroad, and differentiates itself through transparent pricing tools, high-quality doctor profiles, an open marketplace network, patient reviews and vetting, bi-lingual providers who know English, and an extensive information repository. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Welltrip has raised pre-seed funding, has onboarded 25 providers, conducted a number of alpha tests, and has several patients on their beta waitlist.
Looking forward, Welltrip plans to launch the second iteration of their platform with added features such as HIPPA compliance, enhanced cybersecurity, and user profiles. They plan to go to market by starting out in Colombia, expanding to neighboring Latin American countries and gaining more US customers before scaling to access global markets.
Proyecto Verde (https://proyecto-verde.com/)
Gabriela Campoverde, Wharton MBA/MCIT’22, pitched her startup Proyecto Verde and took home the People’s Choice Award. Proyecto Verde is a solution that allows immigrants to access small business loans in a familiar language, based on the premise that there are other ways to evaluate potential borrowers than just traditional credit scores. Their goal is to give users access to smart finance rather than resorting to running their businesses solely on cash or with costly loans.
The current competitive landscape is dominated by players like Accion, Wells Fargo, Kabbage, Mercury, and Fundera, among others, but Gabriela highlighted how there is significant opportunity left to be tapped in the non-FICO scored, immigrant entrepreneur-focused financing space in a ~$42B target market for immigrant small business online loan applications.
Currently, Proyecto Verde is still pre-MVP and is investigating the best path forward bearing in mind online lending regulations, the need for detailed industry research, and stress-testing their data points. Proyecto Verde plans to use an alternative data risk model to initially target Spanish and Mandarin speakers, with the immediate goal of interviewing a larger set of small business owners and onboarding new team members.
Monica Avakian, Nikki Bowser, and Katie Broder, Wharton MBA’21 students, pitched their startup Moment and won second place. Moment, by “enabling the every guy to take a moment”, seeks to redefine men’s wellness from the ground up through simple skincare routines and products to help men look and feel their best selves.
According to the team, even though men’s skincare is a large and growing market, current skincare lines don’t effectively communicate their value and existing offerings do not adequately meet men’s needs. (often women’s products are modified and positioned as men’s products). With efficiency, routine-alignment, effectiveness, accessibility, simplicity, and affordability as their key product pillars, Moment’s introductory offerings will include in-shower face washes, morning lotions, night cleaning wipes, and night lotions, at a price profile between mass and prestige products.
The team will index heavily on marketing innovation as they develop their brand, targeting males as well as females, and looking forward, they plan to build product manufacturing, logistics, and tech capabilities before launching DTC in early 2022.
Yoojin Jang, Wharton MBA’21, won first place in the pitch competition for her startup OnHouse, founded with her sister Seoyoung Jang. Drawing on her own personal experience of owning a rental property, she recognized how difficult it was to find a reliable property manager. Current options for owners include hiring an agency or searching independently which can be expensive, time-consuming, and unsatisfactory.
OnHouse seeks to simplify property management through its online marketplace model to find property managers in a reliable, efficient, and data-driven manner. Users simply fill in a questionnaire for free, find matches at various price levels, and finally onboard tenants and manage payments. OnHouse will make money by taking a percentage of rent fees. Through OnHouse’s matching algorithm, connections with local experts, and database of authentic reviews, they seek to help owners and property managers alike in the large and growing national rental market.
Currently in their ideation phase, OnHouse will use their prize money winnings to test product-market fit and gather data. Continuing to build their algorithm, acquire customers, establish partnerships, and test out their product, they plan to launch first in Dallas before expanding further.
Body By Bridget (https://bodybybridget.co/)
Founded by Bridget O’Carroll, Wharton MBA’21 student, Body By Bridget (‘BBB’) is a fitness platform venture specializing in high-intensity pilates in small spaces using slow, controlled movement with minimal equipment.
Bridget, who is ranked in the top 10 of 400+ solid core instructors nationally, realized at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that individuals sought human connections and fitness, but were confined to their living rooms. Recognizing that competing services and solutions such as Soulcycle, Peloton, [solidcore], Equinox, among others, didn’t provide high-intensity workouts at low-prices and with minimal equipment digitally, BBB was launched in April 2020 as a free community workout, with Bridget teaching 6 members over Zoom. Transitioning to a paid model in June, BBB enjoyed profitability in July through sales from both live classes as well as subscriptions to BBB’s online fitness library and has grown to a community of 500+ members to date.
Looking forward, BBB seeks to scale by offering enterprise solutions and increasing its production of on-demand programs. BBB will work on building its brand identity and expanding its social media presence, and by 2022, hopes to bolster its technology to achieve a best-in-class experience.