2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Prembly, Johns Hopkins University (Carey)


Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Industry: Enterprise Software as Service (SaaS)

Founding Student Name(s): Lanre Ogungbe, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, MBA 2023

Brief Description of Solution: Automated identity verification solution provider with a focus on emerging markets.

Funding Dollars: $3.1M

What led you to launch this venture? I struck on the idea of building identity validation for emerging markets while trying to build a biometrics payment solution in 2019. I needed a solution that could easily identify the customers I was building for more dynamically. The infrastructure I desired wasn’t readily available; hence, I sought to build it myself. I paused the biometrics payment solution and went on to launch identitypass. Identitypass is a multinational data verification system processing infrastructure that today processes millions of individuals monthly using the combination of facial recognition technology, data, and document verification algorithms. We are primarily focused on helping emerging markets with their data verification needs, and we make it possible for tens of millions of people to have access to global products and services because we exist.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? One of our most remarkable achievements is we’ve created the ability to verify nearly 100 million individuals and businesses, all while assembling a team of over 40 exceptionally talented individuals to bring to fruition an idea that was conceived less than three years ago.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company, and how did you solve it?  Our greatest challenge is assembling the ideal team to collaborate with and build our business. During the early phases of our venture’s establishment, resources are constrained, and there is an extensive list of tasks to complete. Fortunately, we’ve been able to accomplish a great deal within a short time. An idea is just an idea without a team to execute it.

It is a formidable task to find the right team that not only comprehends the vision of the company but also remains committed to it, irrespective of the fluctuations in the market. The team must also foster a cohesive working environment. To surmount these obstacles, I took the initiative to reach out to my friends and former colleagues. Our prior professional relationships played a pivotal role in cultivating the trust necessary to embark on a new entrepreneurial venture together.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? One of the motivating factors behind my decision to pursue an MBA program at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School was the prospect of gaining insights into the intricacies of establishing a global enterprise. Despite being headquartered in the United States, our company conducts a substantial portion of its operations in emerging markets. Carey’s MBA program proved to be invaluable in deepening my comprehension of pivotal concepts related to mergers and acquisitions, business communication, artificial intelligence, and an array of other pertinent fields.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? My path toward entrepreneurship finds its roots in my family, with my mother, Ibiwumi Ogungbe, serving as a primary source of inspiration. She was an entrepreneur herself (she ran a successful small-sized catering business) and a fervent advocate of the idea that individuals can address the challenges they encounter rather than simply voicing complaints. Her entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering belief in the power of proactive problem-solving profoundly influenced my own journey into entrepreneurship.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? It is difficult to answer this question because many courses in my MBA journey significantly contributed to my professional development, and I promptly applied the knowledge gained from them. Among the most impactful courses were the ones centered around artificial intelligence (AI) and mergers and acquisitions. The AI classes equipped me with the skills and insights necessary to harness AI’s potential in our business operations. On the other hand, the mergers and acquisitions class proved indispensable as it directly informed our successful acquisition strategy executed just a few months following the course completion. These experiences highlight the tangible and immediate benefits of the education I received.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Professor Ge Bai, an accounting professor, played a pivotal role in shaping my career aspirations. Her impactful teaching style and comprehensive coverage of crucial accounting principles were instrumental in enhancing my abilities. Thanks to her class, I gained the proficiency needed to undertake significant accounting and financial restructuring of the company, which proved to be invaluable for our strategic growth and development.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? The Baltimore entrepreneurial ecosystem is steadily becoming a cornerstone of support for our company’s growth trajectory. We have embarked on the expansion of our local operations and successfully onboarded an impressive roster of talented individuals residing in Baltimore. Moreover, our ability to tap into a wealth of business expertise, secure investments, and cultivate strategic partnerships through platforms like Upsurge Baltimore and Johns Hopkins Tech Venture has played a pivotal role in propelling our development.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? With its robust infrastructure, Premley’s overarching objective is to become the cornerstone for identification and security in emerging markets. Our vision is twofold: to significantly mitigate the pervasive issue of identity theft on the internet and to facilitate universal access to global products and services for everyone.


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