The Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies established the Jacobson Venture Awards in 2017 thanks to the generosity of Andrew Jacobson, WG’93, and Lauder alumna Marina Kunis Jacobson, G’93, WG’93. Venture Awards provide Lauder students with resources to focus their energies on their entrepreneurial venture during the summer.
Cash Award for Venture Development
The 2022 venture winners receive a $12,000 cash award. This financial support, coupled with the many other co-curricular opportunities at Wharton, provides a strong foundation for students’ professional development as entrepreneurs. The Venture Award supports a student’s work over the summer in lieu of a full-time internship, allowing the student to concentrate full-time on developing the venture. Dr. Sudev Sheth, Senior Lecturer and Faculty Lead for the Jacobson Awards says, “The Jacobson Global Venture Awards provide an unparalleled opportunity for Lauder students to unleash their creative spirit and entrepreneurial vision across industries and geographies. It offers young visionaries a chance to harness emerging technologies and leverage global networks to build sustainable businesses that will change the 21st century for the better.”
Special thanks to our 2022 Judges:
- Marina Kunis Jacobson G’93, WG’93
- Allan Kwan G’87, WG’87
- Rosanna Ramos-Velita G’92, WG’92
- Diego Rimoch G’15, WG’15
- Bart Swanson G’89, WG’89
The winners of the 2022 Jacobson Venture Award are:
470 BAKING CO
470 Baking Company is an organic, vegan sourdough goods company featuring sourdough crackers as the core product line in 3 distinct flavors: Flaky Salt and Cracked Pepper, Rosemary, and Sumac. Melissa Tovin, founder of 470 Baking Co, has been an avid baker since childhood and first discovered sourdough in 2014 after moving to 470 2nd Avenue in San Francisco. The company’s core product line showcases the unique sourdough baking method and offers consumers a simple, yet elevated option for at-home or on-the-go snacking. 470 Baking Co will use the Jacobson venture funding to set up commercial kitchen space and source a co-packer to increase supply, as well as to build marketing materials for an initial sales push to local grocery stores, farmers markets, restaurants, and cafes.
Melissa Tovin is a 2nd year MA/MBA student in the Europe Program, French Track. She studied engineering at Brown University and went on to pursue her interests in food and beverage by joining specialty coffee company Blue Bottle Coffee. Prior to Lauder, Melissa worked on strategy planning and digital initiatives at Constellation Brands, in their Wine and Spirits division.
Early Pi (formerly ‘Eago’) is a social media platform dedicated to events. Early Pi proposes a unique, all-in-one digital space that houses tickets sales, communications between organizers and customers, networking among participants, and photo and video sharing. Event organizers usually sell their tickets through their own platform or a third-party website, then they communicate updates through different social media channels (Facebook, Intagram, etc). From festivals to conferences, Early Pi’s end-to-end platform will offer all these features in one single place. The Jacobson Award will help Early Pi invest in infrastructure and accelerate the development of the platform.
Arélyss Eblohoue, Founder of Early Pi, is a first-year MA/MBA student in the Global Program. She was previously a Quantitative Trading Researcher and built automated trading strategies. Born and raised in Benin, Arélyss graduated from the French Grandes Ecoles ENSIMAG where she studied Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. As a festival aficionado, Arélyss hopes to make life easier for festival fans and anyone who wants to organize an event.
Sagar Chopra, Sahil Chopra
Empower Sleep is a digital healthcare platform providing online treatment for sleep disorders. Co-founders and brothers Sagar and Sahil Chopra share a goal to empower individuals, millions of whom suffer from sleep disorders, to receive the sleep healthcare they need to live healthier and happier lives. Unfortunately, today’s sleep care system is complex, expensive, and broken. Empower Sleep solves this through a virtual chronic care model for sleep healthcare, where patients can get tested, monitored, diagnosed, and treated – all from the comfort of their own home. This summer, they plan to use their venture funding award to build out a patient-facing chronic care platform.
Sagar Chopra, Co-founder and COO, is a second-year MA/MBA student in the South Asia, Middle East and North Africa (SAMENA) Program. Prior to Lauder, Sagar was on Uber’s growth and expansion team leading product launches across multiple countries and business verticals. Sahil Chopra, Co-founder and CEO, is a Board-Certified Sleep Medicine physician.
Alexander Robinson, Georgia Stylianides
FREEHOLD aims to unlock the value of art held in freeports around the world through their digitization, promotion, and sale in a virtual space. The majority of artworks in private collections are held in freeports, completely off view from the world because they cannot leave the freeport without being subject to steep taxation. FREEHOLD’s innovative solution allows these works to be displayed, promoted, and exhibited virtually, driving demand, greater valuations, and ultimately higher returns for those who invest in and collect fine art assets.
This summer, FREEHOLD aims to build the MVP of its virtual gallery space, digitize 5-10 piece within it and validate the user experience/demand with their partner at the Delaware Freeport. FREEHOLD will be tapping into both the broader Penn community and the larger VR / metaverse / crypto space to leverage their networks and source the best talent available for this new build.
Georgia Stylianides is a 1st year MA/MBA student in the Africa Program, French Track. She has always had twin loves – technology and art. Prior to Lauder, Georgia worked at Sotheby’s in New York as the Transaction Structuring Analyst for the Commercial Office. There, she revolutionized the Guarantee and Irrevocable Bid pricing methodology, leveraging her background in Mathematics and deep knowledge of the art market. She is excited to innovate at the intersection of art, technology and analytics.
Alexander Robinson is a 1st year MA/MBA student in the LATAM Program, Portuguese Track. He is passionate about the connection between art history and business, and is fascinated with the concept of art as both an aesthetic object and speculative asset. Alexander studied German Media & Aesthetics at Princeton, and was lead student curator at the Princeton Art Museum. He later served as an analyst at an international art restitution law firm and as a management consultant in D.C.
Rohan Parikh, Niha Gottiparthy, Paolo Fornasini
Ruthwick Pathireddy (Not pictured)
Keye aims to solve the problem of subscription fatigue and unlock access to the best content on the internet for everyone. Using an innovative flexible access model, Keye allows users to purchase credits that can be spent to buy content on dozens of sites and applications that are traditionally paywalled. With Jacobson’s support, Keye will focus on building its partner API and expanding from their current limited beta test to a full launch.
Paolo Fornasini is a 1st year MA/MBA student in the Europe Program, German Track. He is one of Keye’s co-founders and leads the company’s sales and partnerships teams. Prior to starting Keye, Paolo spent 6 years in Google’s Global Partnerships division leading partner engagement for mobile apps in the North America region.
Rohan Parikh is a 1st year MA/MBA student in the South Asia, Middle East and North Africa (SAMENA) Program. He is also one of Keye’s co-founders, along with Paolo and Niha Gottiparthy (Wharton Class of ’23), and is leading Keye’s business development and operations. Rohan previously worked in consulting, risk analytics, global markets and investment banking, building teams and expanding products internationally.