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Fall/Winter 2021

Food-tech company Better Brand is taking the guilt out of guilty pleasure. Founded by Aimee Yang WG20, the company uses so-called “grain-changing technology” to produce low-carbohydrate, high-protein versions of foods that are traditionally loaded with carbs. Better Brand’s inaugural product, the Better Bagel, boasts just five grams of net carbs (equivalent to one-fifth of a banana) and 24 grams of protein (the equivalent of four eggs). With its trademarked technology, the company plans to break into other food categories in the future and, in the process, redefine healthy eating.

Fall/Winter 2021

Aura

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Millions of instances of fraud and identity theft were reported in the U.S. last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. With much of that crime taking place online, Aura — a startup founded by Hari Ravichandran WG08 — aims to shield its customers with a security solution that takes the complexity out of digital protection. Created to guard user information, accounts, and devices, the company’s software provides password monitoring, bank alerts, and other features that have traditionally been offered by separate groups. Aura’s efforts to build a comprehensive digital-security hub haven’t gone unnoticed, earning the company investment from the likes of former Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and a valuation of more than $1 billion earlier this year.

Fall/Winter 2021

Lynk

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Lynk was born of two contrasting experiences. As an investor earlier in her career, founder Peggy Choi ENG06 W06 was learning about companies and industries every day — encounters that made her realize the value of talking to the right person. On the flip side, the CEO found herself unable to answer her own parents’ business questions, leading her to search for people who could. Choi wondered whether there was a way to leverage data to make finding the right expert easier. Today, Lynk is doing just that with software whose primary offering connects professionals to the person they need from among a network of more than 840,000 experts.

Fall/Winter 2021

Led by CEO and president Stephen Tang WG92, this at-home testing company is offering a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19. Authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, OraSure’s InteliSwab test is available over the counter, by prescription, and for use in health-care settings. Having also made a name for itself with the first and only FDA-approved rapid self-test for HIV, the public company offers a range of tools and services aimed at improving health and wellness.

Fall/Winter 2021

Before Christine Tao WG08 and Lori Mazan were Sounding Board co-founders, they were coach and trainee. The two met years ago when Tao worked as a sales executive at Tapjoy, a mobile advertising company where Mazan provided executive-coaching services. In learning from Mazan, Tao saw the results of coaching on her own performance and the subsequent business impact. However, they both recognized that this type of feedback was only accessible to the highest echelons of a company’s leadership.  Today, their startup is bringing coaching services to leaders at all levels of firms via a suite of virtual offerings that match users with coaches online.

Fall/Winter 2021

Highlight aims to combine the right ideas, the right people, and the right questions to help consumer products succeed. Founded by Dana Kim WG20 and Ethan Kellough GEN21, the company is speeding up the process of in-home product testing by giving clients access to fast feedback from a community of testers known as Highlighters. Thanks to an intuitive project portal, Highlight lets clients take control of the product-testing process with a one-stop shop for designing surveys, scheduling shipping, analyzing feedback, and more. Boasting survey completion rates of 90 percent from its Highlighters, the company promises to deliver actionable insights to customers — from startups to established enterprises — in less than a week.

Fall/Winter 2021

You may have learned about it recently on 60 Minutes or the front page of the New York Times: the emergence of psychedelics to treat conditions like depression and addiction. Although substances such as MDMA and psilocybin are considered Schedule 1 drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, their use in treatments is being widely studied, and investors are taking notice. One such investor, the Conscious Fund, is a venture capital firm concentrating squarely on this emerging field of medicine. Founded in part by Michael Hoyos W13, the firm has backed several companies in the space and incubated others itself, including Aphrodite Health, a self-described psychedelic medicine company “for women, by women.”

Fall/Winter 2021

Is less better? It is in the case of LiberTech, the 2021 Y-Prize-winning team recognized for its efforts to tap into the growing market for low-alcohol and nonalcoholic beverages. Shangting (Lucy) Sun W21, Hechun (Iris) Cai W21, Sharon Ying Man Chan C21, and Zhouzheyuan (Fred) Lu C21 pitched their technique for de-alcoholizing beer and wine — using nanostructured membranes developed by Penn Engineering professor Chinedum Osuji — at the competition’s finale this spring. Their method has the potential to preserve the quality and flavor of alcoholic beverages while allowing for a more efficient and cost-effective filtration process than other techniques. Having received $10,000 from the competition, the team earmarked their Y-Prize winnings toward validating, prototyping, and piloting their technology.

Cover of the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Wharton Magazine, with an accompanying illustration from within the magazine depicted
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