2021 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Félix, Wharton School


Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Industry: Fintech / Remittances

Founding Student Name(s): Manuel Godoy and Bernardo Garcia

Brief Description of Solution: Félix is a chat-based platform that enables Latinos in the US to send money abroad. We combine Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence to make remittances simple, convenient, and trustworthy.

Funding Dollars: $2.6 MM USD

What led you to launch this venture? Both of us are Latino immigrants and we have lived through the struggle of sending money to our home countries (Venezuela and Mexico respectively). We are passionate about using our skills to build technology products that can provide immense value to people. We want to solve the remittances problem for the 25 million foreign born Latinos living in the US.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Creating an early version of our product that existing customers are loving and can’t live without. One user even wanted to send us flowers to thank us for how Félix helped her and her family build a flower farm in Mexico.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? The idea was born during our time at Wharton. The MBA program and its resources helped us tremendously in launching the venture.

In particular, the school helped us with the following:

* Access to an amazing community of overachieving people with diverse backgrounds. Many of our fellow colleagues helped us in the early days with feedback, ideas, product testing, pitching, and many other things. One of our early Beta customers is a Wharton-founded company that sends payments to MX.

* The ability to learn from the brightest professors in the world. The seed of the idea was planted in Zeke Hernandez’s Global Business class at Wharton. But it continued evolving thanks from lessons learned in cases discussed in different Entrepreneurship, Management, and Strategy classes. Two professors are current advisors.

* Access to an incredible entrepreneurship system led by the Venture Lab. The program gave us access to a community of like-minded students and allowed us to participate inside the VIP-X accelerator. Additionally, Venture Lab organized the Startup Challenge where we won the Most Innovative Startup and Wharton AI for Business providing us with grants that enabled us to continue building our product. We also participated and won other entrepreneurship competitions in the school like The MBA Fund and Dorm Room Fund which have been amazing in this journey. But most importantly, everyone at Wharton was rooting for us!

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you?

Manuel: it has become a cliché, but Elon Musk is my biggest inspiration. I’ve followed him since his early days at SpaceX. I’ve been inspired by the fact that he went through the trouble of immigrating to the US to go to school and then started companies in very different, yet very complex industries. I’ve read that he’s not a fan of MBA programs, so he is not quite perfect.

Bernardo: When we were starting Felix, I was reading the book Shoe Dog, about the journey of Phil Knight and Nike, and it really marked me. At that moment, it was extremely inspiring because I related to the stage in life of Phil then and the story and troubles that he was going through. Also, I was very inspired by how he began to hustle about his inspirations and passions for what he was doing. He was also concerned about his ability to overcome the obstacles, like trying to get capital for growth in a time when venture capital was not even a thing. He’s the proof that hard work and perseverance are the key to success.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it?

Manuel: There were three classes that were the most valuable to me. First, Management of the

Emerging Enterprise had a global module taught by Zeke Hernandez, which allowed us to see the impact of the remittances industry. Second, Venture implementation by Patrick Fitzgerald encouraged us to be bold and have a strong bias for action to move the product forward. Lastly, Managerial Decision Making by Katy Milkman offered incredible practical lessons about behavioral economics that we are implementing in marketing campaigns.

Bernardo: There were two classes that really helped me. First, Zeke’s class on Management of the Emerging Enterprise, because it was in that class that we had the aha moment about remittances and the opportunity in that market. Second, the class Venture Capital and the Finance of Innovation with David Wessels was also extremely helpful because it allowed me to really understand how to think about what makes a startup more likely to succeed. Better still, the class was viewed both from the entrepreneur and investor perspectives.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Zeke Hernandez has made a significant contribution. He took a leap of faith to advise us in those early days that we were extremely scrappy. He has helped us understand the idiosyncrasies of immigrants, has connected us with great industry leaders, and even recommended a great employee that is with us today.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? The goal is to become the go-to financial platform for Latinos in the US.


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