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Fall/Winter 2020

Beauty is only skin-deep, but grocery stores constantly reject perfectly good produce if it’s blemished or misshapen or otherwise won’t look enticing on their shelves. That’s where Misfits Market comes in. Abhi Ramesh C15 W15 created the direct-to-consumer subscription service with the goal of developing a more sustainable grocery model. The company purchases “ugly” produce from organic farmers, sells it via subscription boxes for up to 40 percent less than store prices, and ships it in sustainable packaging. As the pandemic has increased demand, Misfits Market recently raised $85 million from investors to accelerate growth and reach more locations.

Fall/Winter 2020

Olori

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Having grown up in Nigeria, where nearly three out of four girls are unable to obtain schooling, Tomide Awe WG17 knew she wanted to find a way to empower women in her home country while also celebrating her rich heritage. In her final year at Wharton, Awe worked to merge her Nigerian culture with a solution to education inequality though fashion. Olori — meaning “Queen” in the Yoruba language — partners with artisans and women-owned businesses in Africa to produce handmade bags and accessories crafted with traditional prints and colorful textiles. Each Olori product sold pays tuition for girls in under-resourced African communities.

Fall/Winter 2020

Caring for a sick or aging pet that needs regular veterinary visits can be challenging, as Felicity Johnson WG20 discovered when her cat was diagnosed with cancer. Her solution: creating My Virtual Veterinarian, which lets pet parents easily schedule telemedicine visits. In May, the concept won the Startup Challenge hosted by Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship (now known as Venture Lab), taking home $30,000 in prize money and $15,000 in support services. The winnings and other Venture Lab resources have helped to scale Johnson’s business at a time when its remote offerings have never been needed more. Since its launch in January 2019, My Virtual Veterinarian has also expanded its services to sell prescriptions, food, and supplements.

Fall/Winter 2020

Rmdy

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Nobody should have to worry about negative side effects caused by something as vital as everyday food. But for those struggling with digestive problems, Rmdy may be the answer. Founded by Ryan Morgan C11 W11 WG20 and Kate Kim WG20, the health and wellness startup offers chewable tablets that promote both short- and long-term gut health by improving digestion and reducing stomach discomfort. Morgan and Kim put science first in formulating their tablets by partnering with researchers, gastroenterologists, and medical school professors for their expertise. Each dose contains digestive enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, and a proprietary Anti-Bloat blend — an herbal mix of ginger, fennel, and peppermint. Through daily use of Rmdy, the company aims to make issues such as bloating and gas things of the past.

Fall/Winter 2020

It’s a familiar story these days: News outlets of all sizes are struggling to maintain quality reporting as they grapple with declining ad revenue and ongoing staff cuts. Now, they don’t have to sacrifice critical coverage, even on a shoestring budget. Video-sharing platform Stringr is connecting news sources with freelance videographers for on-the-ground footage, enabling anyone with a smartphone to respond to requests for coverage and film broadcast-quality recordings. The company is the brainchild of former news producer Lindsay Stewart WG14 and consultant/product manager Brian McNeill WG14, who met at Wharton as Executive MBAs. Since its founding in 2014, the company has grown its network to more than 100,000 videographers and has attracted investment from big-name brands such as Thomson Reuters and the Associated Press.

Fall/Winter 2020

Elix

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Lulu Ge WG19 is on a mission to democratize access to holistic herbal remedies for women’s health with her company, Elix. Its flagship product, Cycle Balance, tailors medicinal herbs to a customer’s menstrual symptoms through a proprietary online assessment. Subscribers additionally receive personalized care through monthly check-ins and resources compiled by the team’s on-call experts. Elix also recently released its Immunity Duo line, which utilizes anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients to strengthen immune response. Ge originally drafted the business plan for Elix, at that time called #periodpainfree, in class with Wharton professor Ethan Mollick. The company, an alum of Wharton’s VIP-X accelerator, was a finalist in the Startup Challenge and received the Launch Award within the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund.

Fall/Winter 2020

The story of Young Alfred started at Wharton: It’s where founders Jason Christiansen WG17 and David Stasie WG17 met and later launched their home-insurance shopping platform to give customers more transparency into their coverage options. Leveraging more than a billion data points, the platform matches users to policies from a range of approved carriers and delivers rate comparisons to users’ inboxes in minutes. Just a few years after its launch, the company has caught the eye of major investors, including Google, which late last year led a $10 million funding round for Young Alfred through its artificial intelligence-focused venture fund, Gradient Ventures.

Fall/Winter 2020

At the onset of the pandemic in the U.S., online alcohol sales skyrocketed 234 percent from the same time last spring. Understanding the appeal of home-delivery service well ahead of statewide lockdowns, Lindsey Andrews WG09 and Lara Crystal WG09 launched Minibar Delivery in 2014. It all started when Andrews and Crystal, out of cabernet sauvignon on a takeout Tuesday night, wanted an easier way to score a bottle of wine than heading to the nearest New York City bodega. Now relying on those mom-and-pop stores as suppliers, Minibar Delivery is making folks at home happy while, critically, supporting small businesses.

Wharton Magazine Fall/Winter 2020
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