Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
As a freshman at Wharton, Nat Turner signed up for a meeting with Josh Kopelman, founder of the retailing site Half.com and managing director of venture fund First Round Capital, as part of Wharton's Entrepreneur in Residence program. Turner came out 30 minutes later with an internship at First Round.
The internship was the first step to co-founding an online advertising company, Invite Media, which Google recently bought for a reported $81 million. "Starting a company is extremely hard," Turner says. "But Wharton does the best job possible to make it easier."
How exactly did Wharton help? For starters, the school provided key funding for Turner and co-founder Zach Weinberg to launch Invite Media, a company that created a technology that enables advertisers and agencies to use real-time bidding to buy display ad space. During the summers after both his sophomore and junior years, Turner was given a $10,000 Wharton Venture Award to work on the company. He and Weinberg used the money to acquire office space, hire help, and lay the foundation for a January 2009 launch.
In addition, four Wharton statistics professors acted as advisers and helped build the necessary algorithms for the ad-buying platform. Their classmates became employees, and one of the angel investors was a Penn grad.
By their senior year, Turner and Weinberg were driving from Philadelphia to New York nightly for meetings with clients. They would leave around midnight, spend the morning in Manhattan, then drive home for classes. Turner put 75,000 miles on his car in that final year and a half of school.
With the company's acquisition by Google in June, the two have hunkered down in Manhattan, working out of Google's New York office. "Zach and I are entrepreneurs at heart," Turner says. "But we're excited about settling here for a bit." -- Sommer Saadi, posted Oct. 18, 2010