Red and blue pride runs deep in the office of Kinnek , a business purchasing startup, which just secured $10 million in funding.
Kinnek is an online marketplace that matches small businesses, many of which are restaurants and bakeries, with suppliers suited to their individual needs. The website lets buyers request specific supplies, which are then matched to individual vendors registered with the site.
2007 Engineering and Wharton graduate Karthik Sridharan , along with 2008 Cornell graduate Rui Ma , cofounded Kinnek in 2012. Kinnek currently employs 17 people in its headquarters in Manhattan. Of the first eight people who joined Kinnek, five graduated from Penn. Additionally, Sridharan said that some of Kinnek’s investors are also Penn graduates.
This past September, Kinnek finished its Series A round of investment funding with $10 million in hand. The Series A round, a significant early round of funding for most Silicon Valley startups, will ensure Kinnek’s viability as a firm as it settles into its New York headquarters.
Kinnek’s online model attracts businesses who previously purchased supplies through less reliable methods like the Yellow Pages. With its innovative platform that charges a fee only to registered vendors, buyers have the freedom to customize and amplify their requests.
Sridharan attributed much of his entrepreneurial success to skills acquired at Penn as well as through alumni connections gained after graduation. “Going to Penn is really advantageous for people who want to start their own company,” Sridharan said.
After quitting his job at AQR Capital Management, a hedge fund, Sridharan founded Kinnek with Ma. In 2012, they completed the AngelPad accelerator program — which, according to its website, is “an intensive mentorship program founded by ex-Googler Thomas Korte to help startups build better products, raise the funding they need to succeed and ultimately grow more successful businesses.”
Through connections made with different investors in the Silicon Valley, Kinnek raised $3 million in seed round funding — the initial stage of startup fundraising.
Sridharan attributed his success partially to the expansive resources of Penn’s alumni network.
“I’ve used Penn alums for advice on how to run the company and get funding,” Sridharan said. “There’s a great support network of people in New York and in the startup world for Penn people.”
He admitted to feeling comfortable quitting his job because of the relative job security a Penn degree provides.
Noting that Penn graduates often opt for safe salaried jobs, Sridharan said that a Penn degree “totally” affords you a safety net to take entrepreneurial risks and that Penn’s “insane” alumni network can be immensely helpful for finding a job, and even for creating a new one.
“The power of the Penn network is that people you don’t even know are willing to lend you a helping hand,” he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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