Author: Lisa Ellen Niver, CAS’89
Studying at the University of Pennsylvania, I learned fast and worked hard. As my studies focused on science and liberal arts, I never took a class in finance even though The Wharton School is renowned the world over for business. While watching Shark Tank on television, I feel that I am finally getting an education in economics.
Several of my favorite things (University of Pennsylvania and Shark Tank) came together when Ryan Frankel and Kunal Sarda appeared on Shark Tank to seek funding for their app, VerbalizeIt.
These Wharton School Grads bonded over their travel disasters and decided to make a difference. They have taken a lesson from Ben Franklin who said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Their medium for communication is a translation platform that “promotes cultural exploration and global trade while also creating employment opportunities for the vast network of multilingual individuals across the world.”
After Frankel was sick in China and unable to get medicine due to the significant language barrier, he knew travelers needed help. Together with Sarda, he created a reasonable priced service staffed with real people and crowdsourced for translation services. This multilingual platform not only provides assistance to individuals but now is also a full service translation solution for global businesses to communicate with international customers. VerbalizeIt can assist companies that want a fully multilingual call center or to translate a fifty page PowerPoint presentation. They can assist with translating video into multiple languages. They are ready to help any company be truly global!
As the planet continues to feel smaller due to globalization and increased access to travel opportunities, we have greater opportunities for misunderstanding. Frankel and Sarda survived their misfortunes and in creating VerbalizeIt are helping others enjoy their travels more and create connections through understanding. With their partnership with Rosetta Stone, they are raising money for Children International. It is possible to make money, do good and make a difference.
Frankel told me that being on Shark Tank “was a good experience as it forces you to answer questions and build your business in a way that you have to do anyway.” His advice to fellow Wharton students reminded me of the books, The Lean Start-Up and Running Lean. “Don’t test ideas in a vacuum. Don’t be afraid to put your idea out there and see what happens. Make sure what you are building is viable by making a Minimal viable product and get data from customers.”
Talking to Frankel, I realized how much he learned at the Wharton School of Business and how much he has to offer the world. I love that nearly twenty-five years after my own graduation from the University of Pennsylvania I am still learning from fellow Penn students and even from reality television!
Author: Amanda D’Amico
Today is the second day of the Wharton Women in Business Alumnae Conference. This third annual conference focuses on “Case Studies in Women Leadership” and features Wharton professors and prominent alumnae.
Women’s history at Wharton is interesting. It wasn’t too long ago that women weren’t welcome at Wharton. It wasn’t until 1954 that women were admitted to the best business school in the world, making it the last school at the University of Pennsylvania to do so. Although female faculty members were at Wharton since 1921, a female professor wasn’t selected as a chairperson of Wharton department until 1977. Even after this, the female infiltration of Wharton was slow.
But times have changed. Today, 40 percent of Wharton single-degree undergraduates and 45 percent of Wharton full-time MBAs are women. Women are part of every cohort and major at Wharton. Women support the School as prominent faculty members and senior members of the administration.
And there are a number of resources for female Wharton students and alumnae. Wharton Women is an undergraduate organization, which seeks, “to facilitate the personal and career development of females in business by building a network of exceptional undergraduates, professionals, and faculty.” Similarly named, Wharton Women in Business is a graduate organization that “strives to increase career, mentoring and networking opportunities for all women at Wharton. […] The organization initiatives efforts in admissions, alumnae outreach, professional and personal development, recruiting and community service.” These two groups help to shape the Wharton female experience. Their role is invaluable, as Wharton comes closer to reaching equal numbers of men and women in its classes.
If you are interested in learning more about women at Wharton and Penn, please visit this site.
Even though I am happily studying psychology in the College, I sometimes wish I were studying business at Wharton. The aura of Wharton is very strong at Penn and something about being a business student seems glamorous to me (although my disgruntled Wharton friends would definitely disagree).
Maybe it’s the beauty of Huntsman Hall, home to some of the nicest classrooms on campus. Or, it could be the fact that a majority of Wharton undergrads go on to become incredibly successful leaders of society. So, since my sophomore year, I have made a point of taking at least one Wharton class a semester.
Wharton classes are genuinely different from College classes. Professors cold call on students, name tags are required, and group projects are usually a given. This semester in particular I am taking MKTG 211: Consumer Behavior. The main purpose of the class is to get into small groups and come up with a strategic marketing plan for Microsoft’s Window Phone. Our final presentations will be made in front of some of Microsoft’s high level executives; I find this to be both exhilarating and terrifying.
But, I believe this blend of classroom and real life is probably the best way to learn. So, in my last few semesters at Penn, I will probably continue to take an occasional Wharton class, if only to have an excuse to keep up the illusion of being a (pretend) Wharton student.