Founder of the Week: Kenan Saleh

If you only learn one thing from Kenan, it should be…

Start working on your ideas early! As a Penn student, you should maximize the amount of time during which you can utilize this campus’ diverse and robust resources. Of course, focusing on building a good team with complementary skill sets makes a strong and viable foundation for any entrepreneurial endeavor.

Over the past couple of decades, online advertisements have rapidly matured into sophisticated tools, efficiently targeting specific consumers groups. Offline ads, however, have struggled to keep up with these advancements, and look almost identical to those twenty years ago. Kenan (W’ 19) saw an opportunity to close the gap between the two advertising techniques with the creation of his startup, Halo.

Halo allows ad creators and marketers to place location-sensitive ads on the tops of Uber and Lyft vehicles via monitors, dynamically changing ads to tailor to the needs and wants of consumers in a specific location. For example, a rideshare vehicle passing through Beverly Hills would display ads for luxury goods and retail which appeal to the tastes of that customer profile. The technology of Halo increases the likelihood of customer response, thus increasing the conversion rate of offline advertisements and return on ad-dollars spent.

Kenan echoes the concerns of many student entrepreneurs – the balance between time spent on academics and that spent on his company is very difficult. Business-wise, the idea of impressions is hard to accurately measure and quantify. This is especially true for outdoor ads, such as the ones that Halo are showing, where traffic and tracking is not as simple as those of an online ad. To overcome this, they rely on the fact that their main competitors, billboards, have no impression tracking methods, and Halo’s technology allows them to stay above this inefficiency. Kenan also says that Halo is constantly innovating new ways to make their impression metrics more accurate and robust. The Weiss Tech House has been significant in creating a network for Kenan and his entrepreneurial endeavors, including introducing him to investors, giving mentorship, etc. Halo is pushing to launch a test group of ten drivers onto the market this year.

Founder of the Week: Evan Weinstein

Key Takeaways: Google everything! The amount of information available is vast and valuable, and it’s important to utilize this resource. Also, try to find someone else who is in a similar market or starting a similar company. It’s exciting to meet like-minded people and can stimulate some really interesting conversation!

Foodies and chocolate lovers rejoice! Evan Weinstein has taken the technology of 3D printing and applied it to everyone’s guilty pleasure: chocolate. Intrigued by the growth and advancement of 3D printing, Evan saw potential for the technology in the culinary world as this innovation began being used across many industries.

CocoaPress, a product that 3D prints chocolate, allows bakers and chocolate shops to minimize the cost of producing unique designs, thus creating a more efficient process for low quantities. This type of product opens up more possibilities for professionals in the culinary field to bring their ideas to life in the form of chocolate. Although it started out as a mere hobby project before turning into an entrepreneurship venture, the CocoaPress has already made appearances at the Rome, New York, and Philadelphia Maker Faire, winning three Editors’ Choice awards along the way.

Like many other student entrepreneurs, there are only so many hours in a week for Evan to balance his academic responsibilities, extracurriculars, and his business endeavors. Prioritizing his tasks on a week to week basis has set him up for success. In terms of challenges he faced along his entrepreneurial journey, Evan notes that the food 3D printing industry is not one that is very well-established or widely known in the United States, whereas progress in this area has been significant in other countries. To overcome this, he is trying to connect with these international companies that share his vision for this technology while also conducting market research in the US.

As a recent participant of the WeissLabs Accelerator, Evan reflects that it was a great experience to meet fellow entrepreneurs and knowledgeable mentors, while getting the support that he needed.

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