Founder of the Week: Smita Mukherjee

This week’s #FOTW is a special edition summer post. You can get to know more about the founder of Nimbus Care Hub, Smita Mukherjee, first-hand from the email interview we conducted this summer.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. (Name, major, school, age)

My name is Smita Mukherjee, a second year MBA student at Wharton majoring in Healthcare Management and Entrepreneurship & Innovation. I also did my PhD at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences in Biophysical Chemistry.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your startup?

Currently in the USA more than 16.1 million family members provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD), at an economic value of over $232 billion. Nearly 60 percent of those caregivers rate their emotional stress of caregiving as high and report symptoms of depression. To reduce caregiver burden, Nimbus Care Hub provides accessible, affordable and holistic services to caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).

 

What inspired you to create this company?

I got interested in entrepreneurship when as a postdoc scientist I was chosen to take two extensive courses on innovation commercialization. I learned about the entire process of getting a medical product from the laboratory bench to the bedside. This was a rare opportunity for a hard-core scientist to be exposed to the business and entrepreneurial aspects of scientific discoveries and I was absolutely fascinated! After those courses, I was motivated to sign up for an online Coursera course on Social Entrepreneurship from Wharton where I came up with the idea for Nimbus Care Hub, a platform to provide support services to caregivers for people with ADRD, a disease area I researched during my PhD and postdoctoral training. As a postdoc student, I got introduced to the human and clinical aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease and through numerous personal interactions and firsthand experience concluded that in the global dementia epidemic, the caregivers are the neglected population who have very little personalized or community level support regarding how to take care of their loved one and themselves. I wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of the dementia caregivers and that is when Nimbus Care Hub was born. Fast forward a few years, and I found myself applying to Wharton for my MBA. I started working on Nimbus from my very first semester and continued refining my business model and reached out to friends and faculty on campus for advice and help to execute on the business plan for Nimbus. As my time at Wharton is coming to an end, I am filled with immense gratitude for more than 40 people on campus who contributed towards making Nimbus Care Hub a reality. I sincerely could not have done it without their feedback, support, and motivation.

 

What advice would you give to budding student entrepreneurs?

  1. Entrepreneurs are not risk takers but risk mitigators. Successful entrepreneurs understand the core issues that threaten their business and they take very calculated steps to minimize or eliminate those risks.
  2. You know you are ready to become an entrepreneur when the solution you are working on to solve a problem is so meaningful, exciting, and inspiring that you cannot sleep at night.
  3. Entrepreneurship is hard, so surround yourself with family, friends, and advisors that will guide, mentor, motivate, and push you to hustle relentlessly. Every time you get rejected, analyze why it happened but also know that one person’s rejection does not mean the end of the world.
  4. Be resilient and persevere, but also know when to pivot. Be mentally and financially prepared to fail early and fail fast and move on when there is no product-market fit.
  5. Always have an entrepreneurial mindset, which means that you are creative and resourceful, and you get things done. This type of mindset is useful whether you are building your own company, working at a big corporation, solving personal issues or hanging out with friends!

 

Tell us one fun fact about yourself!

I am a mother of a 4-year-old son!

Founder of the Week: Derrius Quarles

Derrius Quarles (M.S. Ed ’18) is the CTO and founder of BREAUX Capital, the first fintech company created to enhance the financial health of black male millenials. BREAUX Capital is a software program that combines community with automation and savings, as well as peer-to-peer investing.

 

Derrius is a serial entrepreneur: BREAUX Capital is his third company. When he was developing his first company, he realized how difficult it was for him to raise capital, especially with no family or friend resources, despite having shown traction and post-revenue post-capital success. Loaners often told him to obtain capital from his friends and family, and he wondered what factors contributed to why the people in his life didn’t have those resources.

 

5 out of 10 people could not afford a $1000 emergency if they needed to tomorrow- and that number raises to 7 out of 10 if you’re black. These financial emergencies can be debilitating to families, and Derrius had seen it operate in his own community and life. One factor that contributes to these stats is peer accountability.

 

Derrius aimed to make financial services and banking more social and transparent. In his financial health and education research here at Penn, he learned that black males are doing the worst in America in terms of financial health. He also learned that you are 30% more likely to complete a goal, such as saving a lump sum of money, if you do it with a friend. Combining these findings, he developed BREAUX Capital’s unique social aspect. By connecting with your friends over the platform, you can hold each other accountable to your savings goals and ensure the financial health of your family and friends.

 

Derrius advises new student entrepreneurs to remember that “fundraising is not entrepreneurship,” and that you should be prepared to build a company that can survive off its own revenues and doesn’t need outside capital to remain viable.

 

To learn more about BREAUX Capital, check out their website here. To watch the full interview, click here.

Founder of the Week: Thomas Cavett

This week, meet Thomas Cavett (WG ’18), an army veteran who (fun fact!) spent some time protecting Obama in his motorcade in Asia. Thomas Cavett is co-founder of POWTI Innovations, a company building wearable devices that detect when a traumatic injury has occurred and notifiy emergency personnel.

 

POWTI stands for Point of Wounding Trauma Indicator. The goal of this device is to increase response time to emergency traumatic events, both in the military and in civilian life. POWTI was inspired by Cavett’s time in the military as an Army Green Beret, where he had learned skills to treat his teammates and allies. Sadly, he saw many traumatic injuries where the response time just wasn’t fast enough, and he sought to alleviate this problem.

 

The device is still prototyping, and has undergone several iterations. However, Cavett says a launch will hopefully occur by the end of 2018.

 

Cavett’s most important advice to new entrepreneurs is to “find something you’re passionate about.” He says that entrepreneurship is complicated and chaotic, and working with something you’re passionate about will keep you committed even when things get tough.

 

To learn more about POWTI Innovations, visit their website here. To watch the full interview, visit our YouTube here.

BioBots is Now Allevi

BioBots, a Weiss Tech House Innovation Fund start-up producing 3-D bioprinters that have revolutionized labs across the U.S., has recently changed its name to Allevi.

Ricky Solorzano, CEO of BioBots, says Allevi was “inspired by our community of users who work every day to make living solutions for humanity’s most important problems- to cure disease, to alleviate suffering, to build with life.” Allevi’s mission is to change the course of medicine for generations to come, and to influence the world with their ingenious product.

Allevi also recently launched a new software that aims to standardize experimental methodology and workflow in the field biofabrication. This new software aims to make bioprinting easier and more accessible. The new software can be found here.