Second-year Wharton EMBA student Amit Sood recently won the Wharton BizTech Industry Conference award for his startup ShareBlu. We recently caught up with Amit, who is senior director of the Collateral and Market Risk Division at a financial services firm in Jersey City, NJ, to hear more about how he launched ShareBlu as a student in the Philadelphia EMBA program.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your startup?
Within six months of the birth of our first child, my wife and I had piled up a tremendous amount of pictures and long videos. We wanted to share those with our friends and family in other countries, but email and other online tools were either expensive or too technical. That inspired our idea for a platform on which people can seamlessly share data like pictures, videos, and work files without worrying about the size or type of files. It’s much simpler and faster than sending an email. We launched the product to the public a few months ago. Most of our team is in India, but my wife is leading the effort in U.S.
Q. Did you use any Wharton resources when launching ShareBlu?
I’m majoring in entrepreneurship, and have taken several electives in this area. I’ve also worked on this business under the guidance of entrepreneurship Professors Ethan Mollick and David Hsu, and developed my business plan through Wharton’s Business Plan Competition last year. In addition, the Wharton network has been very useful. It’s been easy to conduct preliminary surveys across the MBA and EMBA student bodies. Where else could I get feedback from so many professionals in one place? That has helped validate our concept and measure demand for our product. I’ve also been approached by other Wharton professors and classmates who have shared advice about every stage of maturing and implementing the idea.
Q. What happened at the Wharton BizTech Industry Conference last month?
When I learned about this conference through the Wharton network, I was very eager to attend and present our product. Not only was the conference sponsored by a great group of tech companies, but it attracts 500+ participants. I was one of 26 startups at the conference’s Startup Pavilion. Participants voted on the most promising startups and ShareBlu was one of the two winners. Our award was the chance to pitch our business to all of the participants, attract media attention and free airline tickets.
Q. How helpful was that win for your startup?
It’s been great. Right after the conference, I was approached by an industry leader and several VCs who wanted to learn more about our startup. Also, we’ve seen a lot of increased traffic on our site, particularly from Penn students.
Q. Working in financial services sector, why were you interested in getting an MBA?
I have an engineering and consulting background with a primary focus on product management. I wanted to gain a more formal business education and strengthen my management toolkit, especially because I’ve been working in financial services for so long. The more I researched EMBA programs, the more I saw how strong Wharton is across many areas like entrepreneurship and marketing. A lot of people think of finance when you say Wharton, but the School’s Marketing Department is one of the best in the world. As for my startup, I knew Wharton would provide access to world-class resources and help me launch my ideas into the world. I haven’t been disappointed.
Q. Would you recommend Wharton’s EMBA program for other entrepreneurs?
I would definitely recommend it. There are not many places where you have access to a network of smart, committed people with such talent to share. Also, the School provides a good base where you can experiment and see how your product will mature over time. You get a lot of support through faculty, alumni, research work and fellow students so you can make sure you are targeting the right audience. For instance, if you need advice or help in any particular industry/sector, you can simply talk to your classmates who are experts in that industry/sector. It is as easy as that. I can’t imagine having launched ShareBlu anywhere else.
Q. Tell us more about ShareBlu?
ShareBlu is the first online information bank and courier service that guarantees user-friendly, inexpensive, and secured data storage/sharing service for all online and business users, including those with minimal internet (emailing) skills. It provides the simplest way of storing and sharing files, folders, pictures and videos across multiple or private clouds through a single login. In just two clicks, the data of unlimited size can be shared right from the desktop. ShareBlu also offers private cloud, multi-cloud aggregation and cloud-to-print services for enterprise and individual customers while minimizing size, knowledge and security constraints.
Q. What are your next steps for the startup?
In next few months, we’ll launch a professional version for businesses. And we’re ramping up our marketing efforts on the West Coast. What could be better than launching through the Wharton network at Wharton | San Francisco?