The Jacobson Venture Award at The Lauder Institute
The Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies has established the Jacobson Venture Awards thanks to the generosity of Andrew Jacobson, WG’93, and Marina Kunis Jacobson, G’93, WG’93. This program seeks to provide Lauder students with the opportunity to focus their energies on their entrepreneurial venture during the summer.
Cash Award for Venture Development
Each venture receives a $10,000 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 of entrepreneurial initiatives at Lauder, 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.”
The 2021 Judges
The jury of esteemed judges included:
- Patrice Backer G’93 WG’93
- Marina Kunis Jacobson G’93, WG’93
- Allan Kwan G’87, WG’87
- Leeatt Rothschild G’10 WG’10
- Bart Swanson G’89, WG’89
The winners of the 2021 Jacobson Venture Award are:
Azline Nelson & Wilglory Tanjong – Anima Iris
Anima Iris is an elevated high fashion brand that is curating a new image of luxury. The creators believe that luxury should be sustainable, empowering, and rooted in culture. Anima Iris has five products and every handbag in the Anima Iris collection is delicately handcrafted in Dakar, Senegal. The designs are inspired by the colorful and intricate fabrics of Cameroon’s Bamiléké people, the geometric shapes of Ghana’s kente, and more.
As an early-stage business, they are currently working to grow their customer base while developing new products to diversify the collection. Existing luxury brands fail to center Black Women in their marketing, purchasing narratives, and executive leadership team. Anima Iris is a solution for ambitious Black Women and allies.
This summer, Anima Iris is working to advance the growth and expansion strategy to improve logistical efficiency and hire more local staff in Dakar, Senegal. As they grow, the operational and manufacturing space must expand. The grant will allow the team to focus on targeted marketing efforts, pay rent at the facility, and hire more staff.
The award is crucial to the feasibility and success of expanding a company that is working directly with real humans (not machines) and delivering luxury handbags directly to consumers. Furthermore, the grant will support the digital transformation to build the Anima Iris application for a seamless user experience. This spans from brand discovery to receiving the handbag and sharing one’s sustainable luxury item on social media.
Wilglory, Founder and CEO of Anima Iris, is a first-year at the Wharton MBA Program and is a serial entrepreneur. She graduated from Princeton University in 2018 with academic honors. She is the founder of the African Hustle Series and Anima Iris. The African Hustle Series is a media platform that features young African entrepreneurs who are disrupting industries and bravely forging new paths at the nexus of business and innovation.
Azline, Chief Marketer, is a first-year MA/MBA student in the French Africa program. During her seven-year career at Delta Air Lines in the international sales and pricing departments, she developed an interest in business development in Africa as the pricing analyst for Nigeria and Ghana. Azline has a monthly column, “Living on Locust” sponsored by Poets & Quants that details her MBA experiences and expands her communications platform.
Priyanka Juneja – Hera
Hera is a women only travel platform designed to empower her to travel fearlessly. Hera makes travel safer and more accessible for all women by vetting accommodations, aggregating location-specific safety information, and fostering a community of fellow travelers.
Priyanka is a 2nd year MBA/MA on the Spanish track. She has five years of experience in strategy and operations at Bank of America. She is absolutely obsessed with travel and also has a travel blog, Champagne Flight. In addition to her love for travel, she is always on the hunt for a good cup of coffee.
She has acutely experienced the problem Hera solves and can confidently say that the travel industry can do better. Women’s safety should be everyone’s priority. Hera’s vision is to drive key changes so that the travel landscape is more inclusive and safer for women.
Priyanka shares, ”I am overjoyed and grateful to receive this award. Having the support of the Lauder community is a tremendous asset.”
Anthony Morano & Iacopo Santini – Xoma
Xoma is the first distilled pulque agave brand to enter the US marketplace. It is the smoother tasting, more sophisticated cousin of Mezcal and Tequila that’s sustainable and generates social impact by providing fair and reliable wages to agave farmers. This duo will be creating their brand and launching this summer in the Philadelphia marketplace with a vision to expand to other countries and products in the future!
Anthony Morano CEO, a 2nd year MA/MBA in the LATAM program, previously cofounded the Culinary Heritage Co, a non-profit that promotes cultural pluralism through food media. In addition to managing the research, communication, operations, and finances of the content, he developed more than 70 videos in tens of communities across 15 countries. Prior to the CHC, Anthony cofounded, Huli, a healthcare tech platform where he led the business to product-market fit, grew the team to 30 people, and ran the marketing, customer service, tech, and sales operations.
Iacopo Santini, COO, 2nd year MA/MBA in the LATAM program, was born in Mexico City to Italian parents and later moved to Indianapolis. Prior to Lauder he focused on underwriting private debt and equity placements in U.S. middle market at Bain Capital Credit. He gained operational experience at a portfolio company aiding in capital raising and helping refinance the asset-backed loan to support a turnaround. This experience gave Iacopo a yearning to launch his own business.
They are incredibly excited to continue to work with their partner community in Mexico to bring Xoma to the US consumer. After having launched through a direct-to-consumer channel (available in over 30 states at www.drinkxoma.com), they are continuing to expand their presence across strategic markets through bars and restaurants. Given restrictions caused by COVID-19, they have also begun offering virtual tastings and other virtual experiences for consumers and businesses around the nation. This summer, they will continue to expand distribution, improve manufacturing processes in Mexico, and formalize sales efforts.