There’s a force behind several startups coming out of Penn, but you’d be hard pressed to find it if you weren’t looking.
It’s called VenturePact. Led by two Penn grads, the company’s team of roughly 40 software engineers based in a city northwest of New Delhi, India act as the product development arm of more than a Penn-founded dozen startups in exchange for equity and cash.
Since fall 2012, VenturePact has helped build products and product enhancements for companies like AirCare, a DreamIt Health startup that aims to prevent hospital readmissions through telenursing; SmartyPAL, an interactive children’s book series for the iPad and PoverUP, a online network for students investing in microfinance that’s been featured in FastCompany and Forbes. The team also recently added the buzzy cobrowsing startup Firefly to its portfolio.
VenturePact will close its fall 2013 round of participating companies on Sept. 20. Apply here.
The driving ideas behind VenturePact, as founders Pratham Mittal and Randy Rayess told Technical.ly Philly last fall, are the shortage of talented software developers and the broken system of outsourcing: there’s no incentive to do good work, especially because outsourced developers get paid by the hour.
With VenturePact, Mittal and Rayess offer equity and bonuses to their core team of full-time developers, as well as work closely with their portfolio companies to make sure the development work is up to snuff. They also spent the summer in India, training the team to build high-quality products, they said.
VenturePact’s team of 40 developers breaks down into a core team of about 10 full-time developers that work on portfolio companies and about 30 student interns that work on “VenturePactX” companies, startups from freshmen and sophomores at Philly and New York City colleges. VenturePact’s portfolio companies are focused on Penn exclusively.
When it comes to building a local tech community, how does VenturePact’s outsourced team fit in?
VenturePact aims to help the local tech scene grow by getting startups off the ground, Rayess said. That way, those companies can then hire locally in the future. As for VenturePact’s impact on the Philly tech scene, about half of its eight portfolio companies are still in the city.
Additionally, stateside, the VenturePact team also launched a Fellows program in January that pairs about 20 local college students with VenturePact companies that are looking for interns.
Find a full list of VenturePact companies below, as provided by Mittal and Rayess.
Accompliss, now known as ALICE, is a New York City-based mobile application allowing hotels to better communicate with their guests. They have successfully signed up two hotels to beta test the app. Founders include Justin Effron, Alex Shashou, Julie Ulrich, Ryan Goldman, Peter Boyce.
AirCare is a mobile app that allows patients to access nurse practitioners, physician assistants and doctors through video chat. AirCare was accepted into Philadelphia’s DreamIt Health incubator. Founders include George Zeng, Rushil Goel, Jonathan McEuen.
Boupp is a New York City-based startup that provides real-time data analytics to designer brands and retailers for forecasting demand and inventory management. Founder is Parisa Arash.
StorkStack is a Chicago-based monthly subscription service that delivers ‘Stacks’ of the highest quality, hand-selected products for baby and Mom. Founders are Chris Nakutis, Liz Eavey and Sean Richardson.
PoverUP connects students, scholars and professionals around the world to Learn, Connect, Invest in sustainable business solutions to help alleviate poverty everyday with just the click of a mouse. Founders are Charlie Javice, Eli Javice, Maya Lee, David Fisher, Gabriel Perlman, Heather Miller, Hanna Kamaric.
Jibe is a yet-to-be-launched commercial real estate listing site based in Brazil founded by Aziz Pabani.
Firefly develops cobrowsing software to help businesses interact with their customers. Founders are Dan Shipper and Justin Meltzer.
SmartyPAL is an adaptive, interactive story that brings together a book and a game for three to five year olds. Founders are Wharton professor Kartik Hosanagar and Prasanna Krishnan.
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