The Wharton Scale School workshop series in San Francisco guides entrepreneurs making the transition from a successful startup to a large enterprise. Hear from experts who share solutions to critical challenges faced by rapidly growing companies.
Venture Lab (formerly, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship) launched this initiative in partnership with Wharton Lifelong Learning in March 2016.
Perspectives on Investing in Scale
Most enterprises need significant investment to scale. What strategic considerations should ventures give to this stage of financing? How can enterprises best demonstrate their readiness and potential for growth to not only attract the desired amount of funding but also the right kind of investor relationships? In this session, Professor David Hsu and panelists, Eurie Kim, WG’09, General Partner at Forerunner Ventures and Ravi Viswanathan, ENG’90, WG’98, Founder and Managing Partner at NewView Capital will discuss the criteria and thinking behind decisions to invest in scale as well as how their perspectives may or may not evolve in the near or distant future.
Date: September 14, 2021
- David Hsu, Richard A. Sapp Professor, Professor of Management
- Eurie Kim (WG’09), General Partner, Forerunner Ventures
- Ravi Viswanathan (ENG’90, WG’98), Founder & Managing Partner, NewView Capital
Making Bold Decisions in Challenging Times
While many enterprises have been struggling to stay afloat through the pandemic, some leaders have made bold strategic decisions to scale during these profoundly uncertain times. How should founders weigh the risks, particularly when even more factors are out of their control? In this session, Professor Mike Useem and panelists Amy Errett, WG’88, CEO and Co-Founder at Madison Reed and Partner at True Ventures, Chad Robins, WG’02, CEO and Co-Founder at Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation, and Davis Smith, G’11, WG’11, CEO and Founder at Cotopaxi will discuss the challenges business leaders and their firms have faced when deciding to scale as well as the opportunities they continue to eye for the future.
Date: February 3, 2021
- Mike Useem, William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management; Director, Center for Leadership and Change Management; Editor, Wharton Leadership Digest
- Amy Errett (WG’88), CEO and Co-Founder, Madison Reed; Partner, True Venture
- Chad Robins (WG’02), CEO and Co-Founder, Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation
- Davis Smith (WG’11), CEO & Founder, Cotopaxi
Balancing Growth and Profitability Through Uncertainty
How should founders and managers balance growth and profitability? When is the right time to prioritize growth and how is that answer different in these uncertain times? In this session, we will discuss the key challenges firms face when trying to scale: balancing the need to grow with long term profitability. We will explore this question from the point of view of the operation manager as well as the investor.
Date: September 9, 2020
- Gad Allon, Jeffrey A. Keswin Professor and Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions; Director, Management and Technology Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Joseph Ansanelli (W’92), CEO, Gladly & Partner, Greylock
- Cate Khan (WG’05), Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Verishop
- Ted Schlein (C’86, PAR’20), General Partner, Kleiner Perkins
Female Founders and Funders: Gender Diversity at Scale
All are welcome to join this passionate conversation about gender diversity in the workplace. The session will start with an overview of the latest research on gender and scaling being done at Wharton, including the impact of gender diversity on startup performance, and the ways in which female founders and funders face unique challenges and opportunities in growing startups. That discussion will be followed by a panel of founders and venture capitalists discussing how startups can address the gender gap in Silicon Valley.
Date:: January 30, 2020
- Ethan Mollick, Associate Professor of Management, Academic Director, Wharton Interactive, The Wharton School
- Iris Choi (WG’04), Partner, Floodgate
- Lulu Ge (WG’19), Founder & CEO, Elix
- Na’ama Moran, Co-Founder & CEO, Cheetah Technologies
Scaling an Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategy
Omnichannel retailers face hard choices when they decide how to improve the way they serve their customers, using levers such as improving delivery and return policies, providing access to detailed product information and reviews, and offering lower prices. Because it is difficult for firms to excel on all dimensions simultaneously, it is crucial for firms to have a profound understanding of the trade-offs consumers make when evaluating their offering. If managers have biased perceptions of consumer trade-offs, these can represent serious obstacles to designing a winning omnichannel proposition. We will discuss the degree and nature of such managerial biases and propose a remedy to them.
Date: May 21, 2019
- Santiago Gallino, Assistant Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School
- Emily Fan (W’95, WG’02), VP Supply Chain & Operations, Madison Reed
- Miriam Bloom Williams (C’04, WG’15), Co-Founder, Superkin (formerly Bloomwell)
SCALING THROUGH MACHINE INTELLIGENCE AND DATA SCIENCE
As a company’s customer and employee count grow, scaling poses new challenges as many of the activities that worked well in a startup stage are no longer practical. For example, close and frequent interactions with customers by founders or customer success teams are ideal during an early stage but become expensive as businesses grow. Taking the business to the next level requires taking many of these successful approaches and automating them through internal or external tools. This session will focus on how to scale operations, customer acquisition, servicing, and retention through machine intelligence. We will discuss some of the tools available to businesses and whether to build or buy.
Date: March 27, 2019
- Kartik Hosanagar, John C. Hower Professor of Technology & Digital Business, Professor of Management at the Wharton School
- Stacey Epstein, CEO, Zinc
- Ashu Garg, General Partner, Foundation Capital
- Gaurav Mendiriatta (GEN’05), CEO, SocioSquares
LEADERSHIP AND THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPANY CULTURE
Intensifying demands for high performance are pressing new and established firms to become more quick-acting and fast-growing. Companies are finding that such initiatives demand energetic leadership and a compelling mindset, and this has become all the more critical in an era of change and uncertainty. Swift scaling depends upon a capacity to think strategically, communicate persuasively, and decide decisively, and drawing on their own tangible experiences, panel members point to the essentials of leadership and culture for ramping-up and sustaining growth.
Date: December 6, 2018
- Mike Useem, Professor of Management, Director, Center for Leadership and Change Mangement, The Wharton School
- Joseph Ansanelli, W’92, CEO of Glady; Partner at Greylock Partners
- Jane Fisher, WG’17 Co-Founder, Harper Wilde
Scaling and Digital Disruption in Fintech
Today’s firms need to continuously handle rapid changes in both technologies and business models, and digital transformation in particular presents opportunities but also challenges across industries. Both startups and established players need to navigate digital disruption at scale in order to have impact, but face different challenges in doing so: one has new approaches but needs to grow to achieve scale, the other needs to change but has experience in scaling. This panel session will explore strategies to manage digital disruptions such as blockchain in fintech and ensure greater innovation success rates, especially at scale.
Date: June 6, 2018
- Saikat Chaudhuri, ENG’97, W’97, Adjunct Associate Professor of Management, Executive Director, Mack Institute for Innovation Management
- Asheesh Birla, WG’10, Senior Vice President of Product, Ripple
- Secil Watson, WG’97, EVP, Head of Digital Solutions for Business, Wells Fargo Bank
GROWTH THROUGH ACQUISTIONS
In the competitive environment of technology, speed to market is often a key to success. But creating every capability internally often takes the time and skills many startups fail to have. In this session, we examine when to look outside the firm for missing pieces, how to find a company with the right fit, and how to price the deal in a way that retains value.
Date: January 22, 2018
- David Wessels, ENG’92, W’92 Adjunct Professor of Finance, The Wharton School
- Vicente de Baca, WG’09 Partner, v2 Ventures
- Anton Hanebrink, WG’04 Chief Corporate Strategy & Development Officer, Intuit
- Jamie Kim, WG’14 Corporate Development & Strategy, E la Carte Inc.
SCALING VENTURES: LINKING STRATEGY AND EXECUTION
How should a firm build its systems, people, and process to support its effort to scale? Our panelists discuss the key challenges firms face when trying to scale: moving from tactical opportunistic thinking to a strategic one, from local to global, from short-term to long-term thinking, and the relationship between people and processes.
Date: October 9, 2017
- Gad Allon, Jeffrey A. Keswin Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions; Director of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology
- Steve Polsky, ENG’86, W’86, Founder and CEO – Juvo
- Ravi Viswanathan, ENG’90, WG’98, General Partner – NEA
- Joey Zwillinger, WG’10, Co-Founder and Co-CEO – Allbirds
BEYOND THE CORE: HOW TO BECOME A MULTI-PRODUCT COMPANY
How do you think through multi-product families? This well-respected panel discusses product innovation, product footprints, and product scaling.
Date: June 8, 2017
Moderator: Professor Laura Huang
- Amy Errett, WG’88, Co-founder and CEO, Madison Reed
- Ania Smith, WG’02, Head of Business Operations, Airbnb
- Dan Springer, CEO, DocuSign
SCALING YOUR BUSINESS WITH ANALYTICS
How can companies use the best data practices at various stages of growth? This panel of successful entrepreneurs shares their answers from implementing a CRM system to how to hire for analytics roles and the importance of experimentation during growth.
Date: April 24, 2017
Moderator: Eric Bradlow, W’88 Wharton Marketing Professor and WCAI Faculty Director
- • Jessica Lachs, WG’11 Head of Business Operations and Analytics, DoorDash
- • Ethan Prater, WG’04, Chairman, Digital Health Track; Alchemist Accelerator
- • Krista Seiden, Analytics Advocate, Google
ALTERNATIVES TO EQUITY FINANCING
Though equity may be a primary source of capital for your business, what are alternatives that can be approached confidently?
Date: December 7, 2016
Moderator: Jennifer Freil Goldstein, Managing Director, Life Sciences – Silicon Valley Bank
- Jason Mok, Managing Director and Sector Head, Consumer Internet – Silicon Valley Bank
- Chanel Li, VP Business Operations, Rocksbox
How can a rapidly growing organization best attract, retain, and develop its employees?
Date: June 1, 2016
Moderator: Cade Massey, Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions – The Wharton School
- Evan Wittenberg (WG’02), Senior Vice President, People – Box
- Ron Storn, Vice President, People – Lyft
SCALING THE SALES PROCESS
Discover how to make the transition to a sustainable, scalable sales process for the rapidly growing start-up.
Date: March 23, 2016
Moderator: Ravi Mohan, Managing Director – Shasta Ventures
- Ravi Kumaraswami, Chief Revenue Officer – Lithium
- Evan Liang, Co-Founder & CEO, LeanData
- Moti Rafalin, Former CEO – WatchDox