VIP-X | San Francisco
For some startups, San Francisco is the only place to be — and that’s why Venture Lab created a Venture Initiation Program specifically for alumni and students in the SF Bay Area.

Application For Spring 2023 Cohort is Now Closed

VIP-X in San Francisco is an accelerator open to Penn alumni and student entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who are founders or leaders of early-stage ventures. This four-month program runs twice per year, in the fall and in the spring. The company must have traction, and the team must be based in the San Francisco Bay Area during their time in the program.

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Alberto and Gay Peisach Mentoring Initiative

After receiving support during their time in VIP-X, many founders need industry-specific advice to progress ventures and scale. Thanks to the Alberto and Gay Peisach Mentoring Initiative, VIP-X founders can receive additional support and are matched with alumni mentors with industry and/or specific functional expertise.
What We're Looking For
The application process for VIP-SF is highly competitive. To ensure you’re ready, we highly recommend that applicants have already taken academic coursework such as MGMT 231/MGMT 806: Venture Implementation, the Wharton Entrepreneurship Specialization on Coursera, or have the requisite hands-on entrepreneurial experience. Here’s what we look for in an application:

  • Knowledge of business fundamentals
  • Validated product-market fit
  • Measurable traction (i.e., revenue)
  • Necessary expertise on the team

What You'll Gain
  • Be part of a community of entrepreneurs and advisors who will optimize your startup’s potential.
  • Receive expert advice on how to navigate your startup’s unique challenges and opportunities with one-on-one advising.
  • Connect with a network of alumni entrepreneurs who will inspire and motivate you.
  • Get feedback during biweekly group advising sessions with advisors, including VCs, angel investors, attorneys, experts, and successful entrepreneurs.
  • Access co-working space at Wharton San Francisco.

Spring 2023 Program Cycle Calendar


Monday, December 12th: Application Opens via Survey Monkey Apply


Monday, January 16th: Application Closes via Survey Monkey Apply

  • Live Pitches @WSF:  Fri, Jan 27 invited ventures assigned a time slot between 9 am-12:00 pm PT

All group sessions run from 7:30 AM-9:30 AM PT. followed by 1:1 Advising Sessions. 100% Participation is required.

  • Friday, Feb 24th: Kick Off Mtg and lunch w. Alumni Session 1:

    • lunch from 12:30-1:30pm PT.


All group sessions run from 7:30 AM-9:30 AM PT. followed by 1:1 Advising Sessions. 100% Participation is required.

  • Friday, March 10: Session 2
  • Thursday, March 23: Session 3
  • Friday, April 14: Session 4
  • Thursday, April 20: Session 5

All group sessions run from 7:30 AM-9:30 AM PT. followed by 1:1 Advising Sessions. 100% Participation is required.

  • Friday, May 12th: Session 6
  • Thursday, May 25th: Session 7

All group sessions run from 7:30 AM-9:30 AM PT. followed by 1:1 Advising Sessions. 100% Participation is required.

  • Thursday, June 8th: Wine Chat
    • 5:30-7:30p.
  • Friday, June 9th: Session 8

Fall 2022 Cohort

Pezzy Pets
Mike Mitchell W’09, Founder

We work with artisanal fishermen in Mexico and the US to turn hated, invasive fish species into pet treats that are good for both pets and the environment.
Arzan RaimalwalaWG'13 W'14, Lauder, Founder

Home Furniture 3 way marketplace: brands, designers and consumers.
Working Trees
John Foye, MT’13, Founder
Aakash AhamedCTO

Working Trees gets farmers paid for growing trees through carbon markets.
My Little Mascara Club
Patrick Ryan WGMP’21, Co-Founder  
Annie Brown, Co-Founder

A subscription-based clean mascara. The Dollar Shave Club for mascara.
SIP Mask
Vasanth Mohanraj W’08, Founder

Stemming from a public health initiative to build evidence-based tools during the COVID pandemic, we launched our first product to mitigate risk, SIP – an airtight drinking valve that automatically seals after each sip, allowing the immunocompromised and COVID-conscious to safely drink in public spaces without removing their mask or compromising their health.
Ficus Analytics
Prashant MehtaWEMBA’21, Founder

B2B SaaS augmented analytics platform.
VIP-SF fills a critical gap in startup education that sits between case studies in the classroom and pounding the pavement as a startup founder. The needs and questions in a startup change so frequently and good advice is hard to find because it needs to be relevant to sage and industry. Taking well-meaning advice from a Series B mentor/investor when you're a Seed sage company can kill a business. VIP-SF gave Hostfully a supportive community where we could ask questions of faculty, advisors, and peers who understand the unique challenges of starting a company from the ground up.
- Margot Schmorak, CEO and Co-Founder | Hostfully
VIP helped LuxCreo to: Better structure our organization for alignment and performance, streamline our go-to-market strategy, and focus our mission (3D "Production"). The value of VIP extends far beyond the program. Besides ongoing interactions, referrals and promotions through the Wharton alumni network have been invaluable. Highly recommend the program!
- Mike Yang, WG'04, Chief Operating Officer | LuxCreo Inc.
We sold the company to Accenture early this year. It would not have happened without the training and skills we gained at the VIP Program.
- Marina Diaz Ibarra, WG'12 Partner | Wolox
When I joined the VIP-SF experience, I was not ready to be a founder. After working in consulting pre-Wharton, I did not know what entrepreneurship truly meant. With guidance from VIP and tapping into its resources, I grew and grew. After a pivot, I finally settled into my role as COO of a company that grew to$13M in revenue in 2020. I became more confident in myself.
- Tony Campos, WG'16 Chief Operating Officer | Maclean Health
The program really pushed us to think through many aspects of our business, including articulating our value offering, revisiting our pricing policy, developing our sales strategy, and many other critical issues. Besides receiving candid feedback and sound practical advice, going through the program added a great deal of credibility to our startup.
Hamid Hajian, WG'18 Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer | Zebel
It is a great experience, even virtually, as you get one-on-one coaching from two experienced Wharton professors - one focused on entrepreneurial marketing and another from a seasoned investor perspective. The cohort is also a great sounding board and the meetings allow you to test out new ideas and messages in a safe, supportive environment.
Wayne Pan, WG'07 Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer |

VIP-X SF Info Session

Learn about the VIP-X program in San Francisco in this Q&A info session with Irina Yuen, Senior Director of Venture Lab, and Ali Krantzler, Associate Director at Venture Lab, in conjunction with WAFFA.
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Gain Top Business Knowledge in the Bay Area

A block from the Bay Bridge, Wharton San Francisco is located in the historic Hills Brothers Plaza. Our Bay Area campus is a hub of academic and entrepreneurial activity for Wharton students and alumni in the West Coast region.

Previous Cohorts

Fall 2022
Spring 2022
Fall 2019
Spring 2019
Spring 2018
Spring 2017
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