My Wharton Experience Through the Lens of Launching a Startup

Wharton-Brazil-Startup-Dinner-2012 Lisa Lovallo, Wharton MBA ’13, Arts & Sciences MA’13, Founder & CEO of Hemishare

I came to Wharton with the objective of starting a business, so I was looking for opportunities from the outset.  As a dual-degree student with the Lauder International Studies Masters degree program, I began the journey that took me to Brazil three months before my MBA peers set foot on campus.  Though I didn’t know much about Brazil – my four years of work experience in Latin America were limited to Mexico, Colombia and El Salvador – it was immediately apparent that growing and emerging Brazilian companies needed highly skilled talent (and that the country was unable to produce all the talent it needed on its own).  Recently, an ABC News article stressed that Brazil needs to attract at least three million skilled immigrants to stay on track for growth.  When dozens of companies, large and small, expressed their urgent need for talent from abroad back in the summer of 2011, the opportunity was clear to me.

By starting my business at the beginning of my Wharton time, I was able to take advantage of the low-risk environment and great Wharton resources throughout my two years.  One of my mentors, Davis Smith (Wharton MBA ’11, Arts & Sciences MA’11, and Co-Founder of Baby.com.br), tipped me off about the Venture Initiation Program (VIP), which I applied to during my first semester. I wanted to immediately start taking advantage of the School’s entrepreneurial programming outside of the classroom.  I was fortunate to be admitted to VIP and remained in the program for the five-semester maximum. During that time, I saw Hemishare come to fruition with the support of many people within Wharton Entrepreneurship (WE).  I was even more fortunate to receive WE’s Snider Seed Award (which helped pay for several trips to Brazil during the summer of 2012). WE’s vast media presence helped promote Hemishare’s developments across several media channels, and I took advantage of WE’s many networking opportunities (where I met my lawyer and several key partners).

While dedicating my entire summer last year to working on Hemishare instead of pursuing a traditional internship, I relied on the strength of the Wharton and Lauder brands and networks in Brazil.  The Wharton alumni network in Brazil is delighted to see so much student interest in the country.  I plugged into the already established Wharton/Lauder entrepreneurial communities in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo via Guilherme Freire, Wharton MBA ’13 (livo.com.br), Peter Ostroske (Olook.com.br), Bernardo Arrospide & Benjamin Lewis (4vets.com.br), Davis Smith (baby.com.br), Ben Gleason, Wharton MBA ’07 (Guiabolso.com.br), Miriam Grobman, Wharton MBA ’11, Arts & Sciences MA’11 (working at Vale). Other students were also there for the summer, such as Thomas Baldwin, Wharton MBA ’13, Arts & Sciences MA’13 and Brett Lewis, Wharton MBA ’13, Arts & Sciences MA’13.  See the photo of our Wharton Brazil Startup Dinner in São Paulo from June 2012.

 

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