Startups
Ecommerce / Investing

This Philly venture firm is helping Jet.com take on Amazon

MentorTech Ventures invested in Marc Lore's previous company, Quidsi (the parent company of Diapers.com). Now it's backing Lore's new wholesale shopping club.

The seal of the University of Pennsylvania, where MentorTech gets its portfolio companies. (Photo by Flickr user lizzylizinator, used under a Creative Commons license)

Marc Lore, Penn grad and founder of the Jersey City-based Diapers.com, sold his company to Amazon in 2011 and is now vying to take them on with his new company, a Montclair, N.J.-based wholesale shopping club called Jet.com. The news made the cover of the latest Bloomberg Businessweek.
“Lore stayed on at Amazon for more than two years; now he’s preparing to assault it,” the story reads.
Philly’s MentorTech Ventures is part of that assault.
The University City venture firm that invests in Penn grads’ ventures participated in Jet.com’s $55 million round, led by venture capital giant NEA. MentorTech also invested in Lore’s first company (and Diapers.com parent company), Quidsi. It’s one of eight exits listed on MentorTech’s portfolio site.
“We were fortunate enough to have backed Marc Lore at Quidsi, so we got to see first hand his immense skill as an operator,” said MentorTech managing director Brett Topche in an email. “Jet has huge, ambitious goals, but if anyone call pull them off, it’s Marc.”
MentorTech also had a recent exit: SeniorHomes.com, the Seattle-based online resource for nursing homes cofounded by Wharton MBA Chris Rodde, was acquired by the publicly-traded Bankrate for an undisclosed amount this month. Topche said he couldn’t elaborate on the sale because Bankrate is a public company.
MentorTech has invested in a handful of hallmark Philly startups, like digital filing company Neat, visual analytics startup Curalate, mobile backend Cloudmine, ticketing company Ticketleap and couponing app SnipSnap. That list of heavy-hitters points to the pervasiveness of Penn in Philly tech, and it can’t hurt that there’s a venture firm targeting alumni of the school. (Of course, arguably the biggest name in Philly tech — First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman — is a Penn grad himself.)
MentorTech also invested in glasses retailer Warby Parker, which originated on Penn’s campus.
Here’s a rundown of some startups currently in MentorTech’s portfolio. See the firm’s whole portfolio here.

  • goTenna, a Brooklyn-based startup working to fix the problem of dropped calls (among other applications). The company raised a $1.8 million seed round last year. CTO and cofounder Jorge Perdomo graduated from Penn in 2010.
  • PayPerks, a Manhattan-based prepaid card company that pays you to learn about your card. It raised $2.6 million in early 2013, according to an SEC filing, in a round that MentorTech was part of, according to CrunchBase. MentorTech’s Topche is a board member. CTO and cofounder Jake Peters graduated from Penn in 2001.
  • Medivo, a Manhattan-based healthcare data company that most recently raised a $15 million Series B that both MentorTech and Safeguard Scientifics participated in. Safeguard’s Gary Kurtzman is on the board. CEO Sundeep Bhan graduated from Penn in 1994.
Companies: MentorTech Ventures

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