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Wharton's Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance is located in Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall. Credit: Diego Cárdenas

The Cypher Accelerator — which launches blockchain and cryptocurrency companies through Wharton’s Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance — announced its first cohort of companies that it will support. 

The Genesis Cohort consists of ten companies spanning a diverse range of industries, including AI, NFTs, security, digital identity, insurance, infrastructure, and gaming. Multiple Penn affiliates are represented, including a Wharton MBA founder, a team of four Penn undergraduate founders, and two Penn alumni teams.

The cohort will complete a three-month remote curriculum and mentorship program designed to accelerate growth as future leaders in blockchain and cryptocurrency. The program will culminate on “Demo Day” where companies will have the opportunity to pitch their product to leading investors.

A variety of resources will be provided to the companies in the cohort, including workshops, review sessions, mentorship, and opportunities to network. The companies will engage in more than 60 workshops, work with a pool of 30 mentors and advisors, and collaborate with eight corporate partners, including Bessemer Venture Partners, venture capitalist Tim Draper, and Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban

Stevens Center Managing Director Sarah Hammer said she believes the Cypher Accelerator can help companies become world leaders by taking advantage of Penn's resources, expertise, and global connections.

“Our goals are to identify and scale the world's leading companies in the blockchain space, to help support the crypto and blockchain ecosystem, and to provide opportunities for students, faculty, and alums from the Penn community,” Hammer said.

In the application process, companies were judged based on the strength of the founder's team and the potential of the product.

Wharton sophomore Arham Habib, who co-founded VO2 — a member of the Genesis Cohort and a platform that builds fan-athlete communities — said that the Cypher Accelerator will allow them to change the way athletes interact with their fans.

“I really appreciate the Cypher Accelerator for believing in us, taking us to all these conferences, and introducing us to all these industry experts,” Habib said. “They truly have the faith that something as a passion project from a bunch of kids who enjoy sports and crypto has the potential to be a successful company part of this Cohort.”

Sanjay Raghavan, a Wharton graduate and the blockchain lead at Roofstock, a platform for real estate investment, said the company is enjoying the many resources the Cypher Accelerator has to offer. 

“We were thrilled to be given this opportunity, and only two weeks into the program, I couldn’t be happier about it,” said Raghavan. “We think of it as our learning and understanding of industries doubling every week we are in this program.” 

Wharton and College junior and Cypher Accelerator Manager Rishin Sharma said that he hopes to see the accelerator grow in the coming years through exploring new partnerships and involvement with students and the University. 

“The objective and operative is not to stop here, but to build something which truly grows in name and recognition over the years,” said Sharma.