23 Aug 2013 Penn Quakers Pounce and Reality TV Saves Lives

verbalizeitPenn Quakers Pounce and Reality TV Saves Lives

Author: Lisa Niver Rajna, CAS’89

Studying at the University of Pennsylvania, I learned fast and worked hard. As my studies focused on science and liberal arts, I never took a class in finance even though The Wharton School is renowned the world over for business. While watching Shark Tank on television, I feel that I am finally getting an education in economics.

Several of my favorite things (University of Pennsylvania and Shark Tank) came together when Ryan Frankel and Kunal Sarda appeared on Shark Tank to seek funding for their app, VerbalizeIt.

These Wharton School Grads bonded over their travel disasters and decided to make a difference. They have taken a lesson from Ben Franklin who said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Their medium for communication is a translation platform that “promotes cultural exploration and global trade while also creating employment opportunities for the vast network of multilingual individuals across the world.”

After Frankel was sick in China and unable to get medicine due to the significant language barrier, he knew travelers needed help. Together with Sarda, he created a reasonable priced service staffed with real people and crowdsourced for translation services. This multilingual platform not only provides assistance to individuals but now is also a full service translation solution for global businesses to communicate with international customers. VerbalizeIt can assist companies that want a fully multilingual call center or to translate a fifty page PowerPoint presentation. They can assist with translating video into multiple languages. They are ready to help any company be truly global!

As the planet continues to feel smaller due to globalization and increased access to travel opportunities, we have greater opportunities for misunderstanding. Frankel and Sarda survived their misfortunes and in creating VerbalizeIt are helping others enjoy their travels more and create connections through understanding. With their partnership with Rosetta Stone, they are raising money for Children International. It is possible to make money, do good and make a difference.

Frankel told me that being on Shark Tank “was a good experience as it forces you to answer questions and build your business in a way that you have to do anyway.” His advice to fellow Wharton students reminded me of the books, The Lean Start-Up and Running Lean. “Don’t test ideas in a vacuum. Don’t be afraid to put your idea out there and see what happens. Make sure what you are building is viable by making a Minimal viable product and get data from customers.”

Talking to Frankel, I realized how much he learned at the Wharton School of Business and how much he has to offer the world. I love that nearly twenty-five years after my own graduation from the University of Pennsylvania I am still learning from fellow Penn students and even from reality television!

A version of this article first appeared in Frankly Penn, the blog of the University of Pennsylvania alumni.

VerbalizeIt Beginnings: Shark Tank from VerbalizeIt on Vimeo.

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Lisa Niver

Lisa Niver is a travel expert, writer, artist, entrepreneur, and on-camera host who has explored 99 countries. Niver has established a following through her written and video content, garnering over one million video views on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv and Roku. She is the Adventure Correspondent for The Jet Set, the first travel based TV Talk show. She was a winner in the 59th annual 2016 Southern California Journalism Awards for her print column in The Jewish Journal. Niver is the founder of a top 100 travel blog, We Said Go Travel, that reaches more than 200,000 annually and is in the top 1/8 of the top 1% of all sites in the United States. In her tri-annual international travel writing competitions, she has published nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries. She was invited to the United Nations as a Champions of Humanity ambassador, to the red carpet at the Oscars with United Airlines and to New Orleans for a project with American Express and Starwood Hotels. Her recent stories include Dutch designer villas for Luxury Magazine, interviewing Fabien Cousteau for Delta Sky, skiing with the blind for Sierra, Ubud cremation ceremony for National Geographic and scuba diving in the Solomon Islands for Smithsonian. She also contributes to USA Today, Wharton Business Magazine, the Jewish Journal and is verified on Twitter and Facebook. Niver was a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, a 2014 nominee for the Charles Bronfman Prize and a finalist in two categories for the 59th annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

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