The Michelson People’s Choice Award for the 2018 Wharton Startup Challenge is awarded to Strella Biotechnology. The team is developing a biosensing platform that predicts fruit ripeness, thus reducing food spoilage and waste in the supply chain. The team is comprised of: (left) Katherine Sizov, C’19 (team leader), (top row) Prima Pisuttusarun, GEN’18, Reginald Lamaute, C’20, (bottom row) Gauri Srivastava GEN’19, and Sanjula Weerawardhena, W’18. The competition took place on April 27th, 2018. (Credit: Wharton School)
- Katherine Sizov, C’19 (founder)
- Reginald Lamaute, C’20
- Prima Pisuttusarun, GEN’18
- Gauri Srivastava, GEN’19
- Sanjula Weerawardhena, W’18
- Note: W=Undergraduate Wharton alum; GEN=Master’s, Engineering and Applied Science; C=Undergraduate College alum;
Strella Biotechnology’s objective is to optimize the food supply chain to reduce inefficiencies and aid the global hunger issue. The team is developing a biosensing platform that predicts fruit ripeness, thus reducing food spoilage and waste in the supply chain. Packers and distributors will be able to monitor produce as it ripens in storage, which enables consistency in locating the readiest produce for their customers.
Strella Biotechnology Team: We are a group of dedicated individuals pursuing our diverse interests and strengths and combining them to create a superior product.
- Fruit ripening occurs from subtle environmental shifts in ethylene gas
- Over-ripening of fruit causes loss:
- Approximately 1/3 of all food is wasted or spoiled before it is consumed
- Almost a billion people go hungry every day
- Precious natural resources are lost in the production of food
- 22% of produce is wasted in distribution
- The average packer loses between $1MM and $1.7MM annually on downgrades and spoilage
- Totaling ~ $1.2B in annual losses
- Strella Biotechnology’s biosensing platforms measure minute changes in the environment
- The sensors measure ethylene gas, a natural substance given off by ripening fruit
- With the sensors installed in storage areas, packers and distributors can monitor their produce and always locate the optimal fruit for customers, greatly reducing spoilage
And the Winner Is…
On April 27th, 2018, Strella Biotechnology was awarded three of eight possible prizes during the 2018 Wharton Startup Challenge:
- The Michelson People’s Choice Award and accompanying $3,000 prize
- The $10,000 Social Impact Prize
- The $2,000 Crowd Favorite Award
The Startup Showcase is the culmination of the Wharton Startup Challenge, formerly the Wharton Business Plan Competition, which showcases the best student-founded startups from across the University of Pennsylvania.
This year, 27 Semifinalists pitched business plans to panels of alumni entrepreneurs and investors in closed-room sessions. From those 27, only 8 Finalists proceeded to the next phase, pitching their business plans in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. $135,000 in cash and prizes was allocated to the remaining 8 Finalists to help them launch their startups.
(from left to right) Reginald Lamaute, C’20, Prima Pisuttusarun, GEN’18, Katherine Sizov, C’19 (team leader), David A. Cohen, CEO/CIO/Co-Founder Karlin Asset Management Inc., Gauri Srivastava, GEN’19, Sanjula Weerawardhena, W’18. (Credit: Wharton School)
“Strella is working to reduce the large amount of food waste in the supply chain, which could have far reaching economic and environmental benefits” says David A. Cohen, Wharton Judge, CEO, Chief Investment Officer and Co-Founder of Karlin Asset Management, Inc.
- Mona Bijoor, C’98, WG’05, Partner, King Circle Capital And Founder, Joor
- David Cohen, PAR’14, PAR’16, PAR’17, PAR’21, CEO, Chief Investment Officer and Co-Founder of Karlin Asset Management, Inc.
- Carol Curley, WG’81, Managing Director, Golden Seeds And Chief Investment Officer, The Charian Group
- Lucinda Duncalfe, C’85, WG’91, President And CEO, Monetate
- Richard Perlman, W’68, Founder And Executive Chairman, Examworks Group, Inc.
- Stephen Tang, WG’92, Ceo, Orasure
- Note: WG=MBA alum; W=Undergraduate Wharton alum; C=Undergraduate College alum; PAR=Penn parent;
- Strella Biotechnology [2017. strellabiotech.com]
- Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship – Startup Challenge Semifinalist Strella Biotechnology [2018. The Wharton School, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship]
- Can You Pick the Winner of the Penn Wharton Startup Challenge? [2018.05.01. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania]
- [Slide Deck] Strella Biotechnology Pitch Deck | Optimizing the food supply chain [February 2017. strellabiotech.com]
- [Video] Strella Biotechnology Pitch Video [2018.01.18. Pustota. YouTube]