2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Nemu, Wharton School


Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Industry: AgeTech, FinTech, DeathTech, PropTech

Founding Student Name(s): Sarah Powers

Brief Description of Solution: In the next 25 years, 45 million families will inherit $4 trillion dollars worth of heirlooms. But, 80% of families don’t have a plan or tools to support them through this process. This makes the process of managing and dividing heirlooms highly administrative, emotionally exhausting, and financially inefficient. Nemu is on a mission to address this gap. Families who use our app are able to quickly catalog their heirlooms and capture family stories about them, reliably appraise their valuables, equitably divide what’s most wanted, and confidently sell what’s left. Our vision is to turn this notoriously difficult, family fracturing process into a process of celebrating heritage, connecting generations, and upcycling beautiful heirlooms.

Funding Dollars: $600K

What led you to launch this venture? I gave birth to my daughter shortly after my grandmother passed away. When my mom came out to visit us, I had a front row seat into her responsibilities of settling my grandma’s estate. She had access to many professionals to help her through the process, but she lacked support in figuring out what to do with all of her parents’ heirlooms. My grandparents had lived in the same house for over 60 years, accumulating things of financial, but more importantly, sentimental value. My mom wanted to ensure the process would honor their legacy, avoid her siblings fighting, and be efficient so that she could take care of other priorities too. When I looked online for a solution, I couldn’t find one. So, I built one. Along the way, I have realized that Nemu can positively impact millions of other families like mine.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? First and foremost, serving so many families across the US has been an incredible privilege. Getting to help them through difficult life stages has been an honor for my team and me. Then, building the infrastructure to reach and serve them has been another huge accomplishment for us. The culmination of these accomplishments is only possible by making progress each day, so I think the enthusiasm we bring to work every day to build something impactful and life changing is a huge accomplishment as well.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company and how did you solve it? Over time, I have gotten really good at quickly deciphering two types of people in the world – people that make you feel big when you are small and people that make you feel small when you are on to something big. You only want to work with one type. It’s taken me a while to internalize this.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? There were quite a few resources at Wharton and across Penn to help student entrepreneurs. I found the mentors at Venture Lab (Hi Jeffrey Babin!) and my professors to be the most helpful. I was able to design my course load to help me expand my skill set and address challenges I faced with Nemu. I am really grateful for all of the time professors (too many to name here!) spent with me after class supporting my venture.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Before I started at Wharton, I was Head of Operations and the first hire at Bicycle Health, a digital health startup for Opioid Use Disorder. I got to work closely with Ankit Gupta, the founder. This was a pivotal experience for me as I got to witness his entrepreneurial skill set firsthand. He showed me how you can build an impactful venture and the ingredients to do so. Ankit continues to be an incredible mentor as I build Nemu.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Honestly, there are too many to count! It’s hard to pick one in a silo since they were all so integrated together. But, if I can pick a few of them, Scaling Operations, Dynamic Marketing, Communication for Entrepreneurs, Negotiations, Entrepreneurship, Pricing Policy, and Power & Politics were some of the classes that had content I was able to apply directly to building Nemu.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? While my microeconomics class didn’t have a ton of content I could apply directly to Nemu, my microeconomics professor, Clayton Featherstone, worked with me to help think through the best way to equitably divide heirlooms with an algorithm. These conversations served as the foundation of what Nemu is today. His early belief in my vision definitely gave me the confidence to spend more time diving into the business when there were so many other competing priorities for my time.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? My family and I just moved back to Seattle. We are still getting settled and I am slowly getting to know the startup scene, but I am looking forward to getting more involved. Seattle has a vibrant startup scene and I am lucky that my brother is also plugged into the ecosystem since he also works for a startup, read.ai (check them out!).

What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our long-term goal is to be the global app of choice for families managing and dividing property during life transitions. The outcome of this will have an immense impact on preserving family legacies (by capturing family stories, reducing fighting, saving time, etc.) and preserving the planet (by reducing perfectly good heirlooms from entering landfills).


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