M&T Summit winner, team Aerate, Wins $30,000 Wharton Startup Challenge Perlman Grand Prize

Left to right: Jake Fine, ENG’19, GEN’19; Connor Sendel, ENG’19, W’19; Spencer Collins, ENG’19, GEN’19; Bikram Bakshi, WG’05, Entrepreneur & Innovator; Member, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board; Yann Pfitzer, ENG’19, C’19, GEN’20; Sam Weintraub, ENG’19, GEN’20; Ashwin Kishen ENG’19, W’19, GEN’20

Aerate took 4 of the 2019 Startup Challenge Prizes including: Perlman Grand Prize, Frederick H. Gloeckner Award for Best Undergraduate Team, Robert S. Blank New Venture Collaboration Award, and the People’s Choice Award.  The runner-up was also an M&T Summit prize recipient: Strella Biotechnology.


We are pleased to announce the winner of the third annual Startup Challenge, sponsored by Eric Aroesty, C’92: Aerate, founded by six Wharton and Penn Engineering undergraduate students. The Showcase was held on May 3, 2019, at the Wharton School on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Aerate’s novel, patent-pending air conditioner functions as a dehumidifier and air cooler up to 20x more efficient than others in the market. Specifically designed for high humidity environments, Aerate plans to bring this climate-friendly product to the Indian market to combat the growing need for cool air.

Aerate predicts that by 2050, the global population will purchase 3.3 billion new air conditioners. In India, the need is greater than ever, and many expect the country to become the world’s top user of electricity for cooling. CFO and co-founder Ashwin Kishen ENG’19, W’19, GEN’20, who was always jarred by the heat when visiting relatives in India. This experience resonated with Kishen and it fueled his entrepreneurial drive at Penn. Along with Kishen, Aerate’s founder include Spencer Collins, ENG’19, GEN’19; Jake Fine, ENG’19, GEN’19; Yann Pfitzer, ENG’19, C’19, GEN’20; Connor Sendel, ENG’19, W’19; Sam Weintraub, ENG’19, GEN’20. Together, they developed their concept while enrolled in Penn’s Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics program, focusing on technology that could tackle climate change. Aerate also recently won the 2019 Pennvention competition held by Weiss Tech House.