Founder of the Week: Adarsh Kulkarni

Adarsh Kulkarni (SEAS ’21), Founder of Growthfolio

Who said freshmen can’t have their own start-ups? Adarsh Kulkarni defies the norm: him and his co-founders have been developing their app, Growthfolio, since middle school.

 

Adarsh Kulkarni (SEAS ’21) is aiming to create a mobile service for college students to learn about investing and practice so they can gather the confidence to work with real money. His co-founders attend the University of Michigan and Virginia Tech, and they have been developing this idea since middle school.

 

Growthfolio’s first iteration, when the founders were younger and first starting out, did not succeed. Adarsh attributes this to a classic “engineering mistake”: developing a product and hoping an audience will follow. Their original product focused more on making money through investing than the actual process of what goes on in investing and the educational aspect of it. Adarsh and his team learned from their mistakes, and conducted 40-50 customer interviews with their target audience to get an idea of what they needed to pinpoint for their new iteration. Their audience wanted to learn more about the process, and Growthfolio went forward and reiterated their design.

 

The current application is over 6 months in progress and is now in the product development stage. They hope to enter the app store early this year, and gather consumer feedback to keep iterating and creating a better product.

 

According to Adarsh, Weiss Tech House has provided his team access to experienced speakers who have helped them address the core set of problems that all entrepreneurs, no matter what industry, face. He also has connected with his mentor, who has been an invaluable source of advice for him.

 

 

 

To learn more about Growthfolio, watch the full interview here.

Founders of the Week: Michael Wong and Dayo Adewole

Dayo Adewole and Michael Wong, Co-Founders of InstaHub

In a world leaning towards eco-friendly trends, our actions and energy use are more important than ever. Something as simple as forgetting to turn the lights out can kill tons of energy and increase our bills, and many places have moved to automated light switches. However, the installation of these projects is typically 60-80% of the total cost. Michael Wong (W’18) and Dayo Adewole, a Bio-engineering Ph. D. student, have developed a solution: InstaHub.

 

Instahub is a snap on automation solution which aims to simplify light automation to make it more affordable to everyone. This product simply snaps on to light switches and turns the lights on when people enter and off when people leave, and starts to learn occupant’s habits to operate according to their needs. InstaHub requires no external connectivity or phone and is a simple, fast solution to our automation problem.

 

InstaHub is currently working on a large-scale pilot in Harnwell, Dubois, Stouffer, and Mayor to test the product through a partnership with Residential Services. They are also partnering with Wharton Operations and hoping to reach out to boutique hotels for pilots, and then eventually will begin selling the product.

 

Michael and Dayo have utilized many on-campus resources, such as Weiss Labs, VIP, and Youth Hack. They’ve been able to accumulate grants, funding, and support through these resources. Michael also has concentrations in OID, Finance, and Entrepreneurial Management, and he says his course-work has contributed to his success in his venture. They are also a Green Fund Project here on-campus.

 

 

Founder of the Week: Chris Hanson

Chris Hanson (SAS ’17), founder and CEO of Eager, Inc.

When we hear “Canvas” or “Blackboard” we automatically shiver in disgust. The bleak platform, the reminder of the depressing grades we have to face on its interface… none of it excites or motivates us. Luckily, Chris Hanson (SAS ’17), founder and CEO of Eager, Inc., is using his expertise in cognitive science to reimagine educational interfaces in a more engaging, gamified way.

 

Eager is an educational interface for secondary and higher-ed students that works with other platforms such as Canvas and Blackboard to display course data in a more user-friendly way and allows for students to access support networks. It aims to make academic life more engaging, such as by allowing students to set goals for grades and check their progress, or log in with their Facebook account to compete on “arbitrary, but influential” benchmarks. The goal is to help change student behavior in a more positive manner, and the platform is even testing an algorithm to predict student risk, allowing for both academic and mental preventative support by suggesting when students need to reach out to teachers, counselors, or parents.

 

Eager is currently demoing in secondary education, and is about to pilot at Penn and other higher-ed institutions. Hanson’s company was involved in several Penn incubators, and he believes Weiss Labs has been an invaluable resource. Hanson tells us that “being an entrepreneur can be a lonely job,” and Weiss Labs enables entrepreneurs to get to know each other and connect over a common challenge.

 

To learn more about Chris Hanson and Eager, Inc. check out the website here and the full interview (with a demo!) here.