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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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About

Lisa Ellen Niver, MA is a teacher, traveler, author, speaker and social media ninja who has traveled to over 100 countries and six continents. She is a frequent author in the Huffington Post, USA Today, Wharton Business Magazine, National Geographic, The Jewish Journal among many other publications. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel, a global online community of over 1400 writers with articles from every continent. As a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, she received commendations from US Senator Barbara Boxer as well as Fran Pavley, Holly Mitchell, Eric Garcetti from California State Senate, and Assembly, and the Los Angeles City Council. She founded in 2009 the Los Angeles Science Teachers Network with teachers participating from over 70 schools, runs the Science Isn't Scary website and operated the Simply Science camp. She was featured on KTLA National TV on the program Career Day, a show that shares great careers for teens and was invited to speak as an expert on three different radio programs about global citizens, international education and the PISA test. She holds MA. and M.Ed degrees in education and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She is certified in California single and multiple subjects. She is currently working on the new Nickelodeon television show, Bella and the Bulldogs.

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