Founder

In the earliest stage of building a business (pre-seed), we help founders to refine their ideas, understand their customers, and develop innovative products and business m

Top Resources For Founders

Embark on your entrepreneurial journey with VIP-C. Whether you're a first-time founder or second-time entrepreneur, VIP-C offers an inclusive space for abundant learning, networking, and community-building.
pexels-maitree-rimthong-1602726.jpg
Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund exists to fund creative and meaningfully innovative ventures from the Penn student community.

The Summer Venture Award (SVA) of $10,000 is intended to assist students financially over the summer in lieu of full-time internships so that they can concentrate on developing their entrepreneurial ventures.

This award is now offered to participants of the Startup Challenge
Our 3-month, cohort-based incubator is designed to help founders transform strong ideas into market-ready solutions and tactfully navigate the challenges of launching a new business.
The Startup Challenge is a competition for Penn student-founded ventures where student entrepreneurs pitch to a live audience and alumni judges to show their startups are ready to become the next big thing!

For dedicated student and alumni entrepreneurs with advanced startups, VIP-X propels your venture towards rapid growth and investment readiness with targeted support, non-dilutive funding, and other resources.
The Food Innovation Lab is an 800-sq. ft. facility that supports a unique cohort of food and beverage startups at Penn.
Now Accepting Applications For Fall 2022
Our Retail Lab is a flexible retail space to showcase successful alumni and student ventures, to inspire Penn students and provide active learning opportunities.
The Wharton Scale School workshop series in San Francisco guides entrepreneurs making the transition from a successful startup to a large enterprise. Hear from experts who share solutions to critical challenges faced by rapidly growing companies.
Compete for a slice of more than $300,000 in cash and in-kind awards to help launch your venture!

Founder Events & Workshops

21
November
The very next day after closing the deal, the search fund entrepreneur walks into an operating company and takes over the CEO role. From a high-powered Board room, to dealing with blue collar employees on the front line, the leadership requirements are unique and challenging. Professor Zreik will review fundamental “leadership moments” and discuss practical strategies for becoming the type of leader that is most likely to succeed in this journey.

05
April
Shaz Kahng is a visionary leader, strategist, and game-changing senior executive who has achieved breakthrough results for consumer focused businesses. She is adept at turning around, growing, and expanding businesses globally and has extensive expertise in omni-channel, apparel/footwear, consumer goods, health & beauty, and consumer tech. A serial Board Director and CEO, Shaz excels at devising unique strategies, building brand equity, and delivering outstanding results. One of the most rewarding aspects of her career has been coaching and mentoring others.

Shaz has a wealth of experience running companies and businesses such as Gymboree, Lucy Activewear, Nike and working with brands like Staples, Carters, Sephora, Tiffany, Levi Strauss, Macy's, Quaker Oats, Kraft, and P&G. As the first female to hold a global business P&L at Nike, Shaz led a turnaround of the Nike Cycling business making it profitable for the first time in history. As CEO of Lucy Activewear, Shaz and her team reinvented the company and achieved profitability in 13 months, nearly two years ahead of corporate expectations. She has served on the boards of children’s apparel retailer Gymboree and OMSignal, a smart apparel company.

Register Here
16
February
Join the Venture Lab team in a session with Marty Rodgers, Senior Managing Director at Accenture, on Feb 16th, 2023 for a discussion surrounding social impact, intrapreneurship, and community engagement as part of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative Speaker Series. The session will be moderated by Nicolaj Siggelkow, Professor of Management at Wharton.
08
November
Join the Venture Lab team in a session with Miranda Wang C'16, CEO & Founder of Novoloop, to hear about her journey as a social entrepreneur as part of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative Speaker Series.
04
November
Join the Venture Lab team in a session with Christine Moseley, WG'11 and CEO & Founder of Full Harvest, to hear about her journey as a social entrepreneur at the inaugural Social Entrepreneurship Initiative Speaker Series session.

Retail Lab Founder Series: Fernando Rojo, CEO of Patos

Fernando Rojo, C’19, CEO of PATOS has been featured in Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Refinery29, Buzzfeed, NBC News, CNBC, and more. Patos provided work for over a dozen local artisans in Peru's impoverished cities to handcraft sneakers for PATOS.
0:00 / 0:00
Video Companion

Related Articles & Stories

Find out what's happening with founders across the #entrePENNeur community! Want to tell your story? Contact us at venturelab@upenn.edu.
, November 28, 2023 04:12 PM
An Interview with Wharton graduate Bridget O'Carroll, founder of Studio Qila, the first Native-owned digital fitness studio.
4 Min Read
By  Christine Cheng
, November 05, 2023 09:03 AM
Beginning on September 18th, students participated in the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative’s week-long Climate Change and the Future of Food Salon Sprint. During this Salon Sprint, students identified impactful business solutions to the challenges facing the food system and iterated their ideas through a series of workshops mid-week. The week concluded with a pitch competition on September 22nd, which offered students the opportunity to win a validation prize of $500.
3 Min Read
News
By  Christine Cheng
, September 12, 2023 03:22 PM
Meet The Community Grocer, a scalable non-profit community market, resource, and education center advancing food justice and health equity through EBT accessible meal solutions.
5 Min Read
News
By  Christine Cheng
, August 28, 2023 08:00 AM
A first-generation Nigerian-American, Jonathan Muruako CAS'17 SPP'24 grew up in a low-income household in Mississippi, where access to educational resources was limited. After Muruako began attending the University of Pennsylvania, he found himself constantly needing to play catch-up in an educational environment different from his upbringing. He recognized that many other first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students faced similar challenges as he did. According to his research, only 10% of first-generation students graduate within six years, while close to 45% end up dropping out.
3 Min Read
News
August 23, 2023 10:39 AM
Philadelphia, PA, June 8, 2023 — Penn President Liz Magill and Wharton Dean Erika James are delighted to announce a $10 million gift to establish the Robin S. Wolpow, PAR’14 and Marc B. Wolpow, W’80, PAR’14 Fund for Healthcare Entrepreneurship at Venture Lab, the center for student entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania. The Wolpows’ landmark gift, facilitated through the Arbour Way Foundation (“AWF”), will create vibrant programming focused on healthcare innovation and co-curricular learning and collaboration across the University of Pennsylvania.
6 Min Read
News
August 17, 2023 11:29 AM
No surprise here, but the University of Pennsylvania has produced a whole bunch of venture-backed companies.
1 Min Read