Creating an Insurance Experience for Millennials: Bungalow Insurance Wins 2015 Wharton Business Plan Competition Perlman Grand Prize

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Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Annual Entrepreneurship Competition Sees Record Participation

Wharton BPC 2015 GP winners

Bungalow Insurance, Wharton Class of 2015 MBAs, Zack Stiefler (left) & Tom Austin

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced that student team Bungalow Insurance won the $30,000 Perlman Grand Prize of the 2015 Wharton Business Plan Competition. The prize was awarded at the Wharton School’s annual Venture Finals on April 30, 2015, where student finalists received more than $128,000 in combined cash prizes and in-kind legal/accounting services.

Bungalow Insurance, founded by Tom Austin (WG’15) and Zack Stiefler (WG’15), is using data and design to create an insurance experience that meets the needs, habits, and expectations of Millennial consumers. Only 37% of renters carry renters insurance. Bungalow Insurance has built an easy-to-use online renters insurance buying platform designed for Millennials and is partnering with affiliates to distribute the product to tenants, dramatically lowering customer acquisition expenditures.

This year’s Competition saw a diversity of teams: four of the eight finalist teams were led by undergraduates and three of the eight were led by women. One team was comprised of Wharton Executive MBA students from both the Philadelphia and the Wharton | San Francisco programs.

The 2015 Wharton Business Plan Competition winners are:

1.    Perlman Grand Prize: $30,000 to Bungalow Insurance
2.    Second Prize: $15,000 to FeverSmart
3.    Third Prize: $10,000 to Soceana
4.    Wharton Social Impact Prize: $10,000 to Cure Accelerator
5.    Gloeckner Undergraduate Award: $10,000 for the highest ranking undergraduate team to FeverSmart
6.    Michelson People's Choice Award: $3,000 to ThirdEye
7.    Committee Award for Most Disruptive Company: $1,000 to ThirdEye
8.    Committee Award for Best Business Plan: $1,000 to My Best Friend’s Weekend
9.    Committee Award for Committee’s Choice: $1,000 to WeTrain

The Venture Finals, which is the year-long Wharton BPC’s culminating event, attracted over 300 venture capitalists, business leaders, faculty members and students. This year the competition had 175 venture concepts submitted, with 436 individual participants from across 10 Schools at the University of Pennsylvania. While the Venture Finals judges deliberated the top three prizes, the “Great Eight” Finalist teams competed for the Michelson People’s Choice Award, which allowed the audience of hundreds to vote for their favorite elevator pitch. The crowd favorite was ThirdEye, which walked away with a $3,000 prize.

Over the years, the Wharton Business Plan Competition, which is open to any University of Pennsylvania student and managed by Wharton Entrepreneurship, has seen numerous student teams go on to become successful businesses. Previous participants in the Competition include ventures such as acclaimed online eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, dominant Brazilian baby e-commerce site Baby.com.br, and drug R&D company Integral Molecular.

This year’s Venture Finals Wharton BPC judges were:

  •     Thatcher Bell (WG’05), Managing Partner, CoVenture
  •     David Cohen (PAR'14/PAR'16/PAR'17), CEO, Chief Investment Officer and Co-founder, Karlin Asset Management, Inc.
  •     Robert Corrato (WG’00), Founder & Managing Partner, Devon Hill Capital Partners
  •     Karen Griffith Gryga (GEN’93/WG’93), Managing Partner, DreamIt Ventures
  •     Richard Perlman (W'68), Founder & Executive Chairman, ExamWorks Group, Inc.
  •     Veronika Sonsev (WG’05), CEO & Founder, InSparq

This year’s Wharton BPC Sponsors are:

  •     Perlman Grand Prize Sponsor: Ellen Hanson and Richard E. Perlman (W’68)
  •     Platinum Sponsor: Gary Michelson Foundations – Michelson Medical Research Foundation
  •     Gold Sponsors: Eric Aroesty (C’92) and Safeguard Scientifics
  •     Friends of the BPC: Omnicom Group
  •     In-kind Sponsors: Blank Rome LLP, Duane Morris LLP, GLG Share, Grant Thornton, KPMG, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP; WEWork Commons

Note: WG=MBA alum; W=Undergraduate Wharton alum; PAR=Penn parent; GEN=Master’s, Engineering and Applied Science; C=Undergraduate College alum

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About the Wharton School and Wharton Entrepreneurship

In 1973, The Wharton School became the first school to develop a fully integrated curriculum of entrepreneurial studies. Today Wharton, through Wharton Entrepreneurship (http://entrepreneurship.wharton.upenn.edu/), supports and seeds innovation and entrepreneurship globally through teaching, research and outreach to a range of organizations through its many programs, initiatives and research centers. At the same time, Wharton students and alumni are helping to build entrepreneurial enterprises around the world and impacting virtually every industry. For more information on the Wharton Business Plan Competition, go to: http://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school — is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The School has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of 93,000 graduates.
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