19 Dec WWIB Founders to Watch – Alex Dombrowski
WWIB Founders to Watch is a monthly series highlighting women entrepreneurs in the Wharton community. Our goal is to empower and celebrate women in entrepreneurship at Wharton.
This month, we interviewed Alex Dombrowski (WG18), founder of blik, an online grocery shopping assistant that helps users save time and money.
Company name: blik (http://blik.store)
Mission: Make online grocery shopping convenient and inexpensive by providing shoppers with price comparisons and new functionalities.
Founder(s): Alexandra Dombrowski, Dominik Pederzani
Stage: Proof of Concept
Tell us about your company. (What is it? How long has it been in the works? What stage are you in? Do you have cofounders?)
My company is an online grocery shopping assistant that helps users save time and money. We enable customers to do their weekly grocery shopping in less than 15 minutes while saving up to 30%. For many consumers grocery shopping is hard to combine with a busy lifestyle. With our tool it becomes a convenient experience. We named the company blik, an abbreviation of the German word Durchblick which stands for ‘knowing what’s going on’, as the tool provides you unique price transparency when shopping for groceries. Currently, I am developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with a fellow MBA student and a Computer Science student from Penn.
How did you decide you wanted to start a business?
During college I interned at Groupon. Back then it was still a small, unknown start-up with a cozy office next to Oxford Circus in London. The environment at Groupon really inspired me, but at the time I didn’t feel ready to start my own business, so I went on to work in investment banking and consulting. Both jobs were great training and gave me amazing business exposure, including working on Moncler’s IPO. With this background, I am now ready to take on the challenge of starting a company, and business school is the perfect incubating environment.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I came up with the idea while shopping for groceries. I always compare prices and realized that comparing two to three key products doesn’t provide you with the desired result – you need to compare your full basket. That, however, is a time-consuming, tedious task. I wanted to find an easy way to solve that, and that’s how the idea evolved. After doing some research, I found that the online grocery industry has been growing rapidly (>100% growth in 2016). I felt it was an attractive and interesting space to be in right now, and that I could make best use of my retail experience from my previous jobs in this field.
What challenges have you faced?
The idea I’m pursuing is tech savvy. However, neither my cofounder nor I had any technical experience when we started working on the idea. We had to quickly get up to speed on technical details and requirements and find people to work with us. The Wharton and the Penn community have been invaluable in this regard. We have spoken with professors, engineering students and fellow entrepreneurs, who provided us with valuable expertise and feedback.
How has the Wharton community impacted your business?
The Wharton community has boosted my motivation and persistence in building a start-up. There are many more resources available to student entrepreneurs than most people are aware of, from accelerator programs to 1-on-1s with lawyers and the semester abroad in San Francisco. I particularly look forward to further strengthening Penn’s founder community in my role on the board of the Founders Club. In addition, I’m very thankful every time people approach us to help grow our business, whether by serving as test-users or by providing technical and business expertise. Feel free to reach to me via email@example.com, or sign up on our website (http://blik.store) if you want to find out more!