In our “What I Learned at…” series, MBAs discuss the tools and skills their business schools provided as they launched their careers.
mbaMission connected with Dave Gilboa, co-founder of online glasses retailer Warby Parker, who reflects on Wharton’s role in the firm’s success in changing the prescription eyewear industry. In Part 2 of this four-part series, Dave talks about how helpful Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs were in getting Warby Parker off the ground.
When my classmates and I were launching Warby Parker, none of us had ever started a company before. We got a ton of help and support from Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs (WEP) and took full advantage of the great resources they offer for budding entrepreneurs. We initially participated (and ultimately became semi-finalists) in the Wharton Business Plan Competition , which allowed us to fully flesh out our idea and get great feedback from other entrepreneurs and investors on our plans to disrupt the eyewear industry. We then applied and were accepted to Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program, which gave us not only free office space but also access to a broad network of other entrepreneurs. In addition, we received both the Sol C. Snider Seed Award and the Wharton Venture Award through WEP; the first provided seed capital to help fund our venture, and the latter provided a stipend that allowed Jeff, one of our founders, to work full-time on the business during his MBA summer rather than having to take on an internship elsewhere. WEP was incredibly helpful in a number of other ways as well—from providing free press to introducing us to alumni—and we simply would not have been able to launch as quickly as we did without their help.