The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced that student team ZenKars won the $30,000 Perlman Prize at the 2013 Wharton Business Plan Competition (BPC). The prize was awarded at the Wharton School’s 15th Annual Venture Finals on April 24, 2013 where student finalists received more than $115,000 in combined cash prizes and in-kind legal/accounting services.
ZenKars, which also received the Wharton BPC’s “Committee’s Choice Award,” is an online retailer of used cars targeting a $600 billion market. Jean-Mathieu (Jim) Chabas and Venkat Jonnala, co-founders and second year MBA students, have created an online model connecting used cars from corporate directly to consumers. Their “peaceful buying experience” for the buyer offers competitive prices, detailed vehicle information, convenience and warranties.
The ZenKars co-founders met last summer on Facebook while looking for roommates in Philadelphia. They eventually found themselves batting entrepreneurial ideas around and landed on what has become ZenKars which was soon accepted into the DreamIt Ventures accelerator, from whom they received additional seed funding.
The Venture Finals, which is the year-long Wharton BPC’s culminating event, attracted nearly 300 venture capitalists, business leaders, faculty members, and students. This year 140 concepts were submitted for the competitive phase of the Wharton BPC. While the Venture Finals judges deliberated over 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 on their favorite elevator pitch. This year the crowd favorite was MacuLens whose eyeglass lens technology helps reduce the glare of high intensity auto headlights. MacuLens also won the Venture Finals second place award of $15,000.
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