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 2024 Cohort is Now Open.
Application Closes on Jan 11, 2024 @ 11:59p ET

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.

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)
Industry Expertise

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 2024 Cohort

The Spring 2024 cohort of the VIP-X accelerator program introduces a vibrant mix of innovative ventures. Each team brings a fresh perspective to solving contemporary challenges, underlining the program's commitment to nurturing groundbreaking ideas.

Elevated Jewish Decor & Modern Ritual

Tara Townsend, W'04 & Elainea de Vera
AI-driven hyperlocal creative freelance marketplace

Richard Ou, GEN'23 & Jerry Cai, C'23, GEN'24
AI-powered life coaching platform for professionals to grow with fulfillment.

Minlan Duan, WG'15
The easiest way to make new friends through compatible small groups and preplanned hangouts

Meng Liu, WG'19
pexel 1:1 stock image

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.
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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