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.

VIP-SF 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 VIP-SF.

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 2022 VIP-SF Cohort

Arcons Technology Inc. is a wealth management FinTech for client billing, reporting, trading and financial advisor portals.

Jump Writing provides personalized programs to help children build skills and confidence with writing.
Lex helps build more diverse, equitable, and inclusive teams.

MakersHub is a vertical software-supported marketplace that allows manufacturing buyers to more effectively find and engage with their suppliers.

Previous Cohorts

Fall 2021
  • KYTE (Han Choi, WG’21; Irfan Usman)
  • Kiv Broker (JB Duler, WG'94; Matthieu Jabbour)
  • 2Sigma School (Vishal Goenka, WG'14)
  • Brightfox (Alex McCauleym CAS'04)
  • Munchrooms (Gina Shi, W'19)
Spring 2021

  • Agora (Josh Mackanic, WG’18; Brandon Cohen, WG’18)

  • AnimalBiome (Carlton Osborne, C’92; Holly Ganz)

  • CarBevy (Joseph Wirija, WG’22; Hemant Jain, WG’22)

  • gestoos (Todd Stein, WG’93)
Fall 2020
  • Castle Analytics (Peter Eberle, WG’13; Brian Friel, Dan Hoover, Dan Serfaty, John Akapo)
  • Fibulas (Ying “Shirley” Pan, C’14; Xiaotian Ma)
  • Ilekun Health (Tobi Bosede, C ’11)
  • Zebel (Hamid Hajian, WG’18; Ramtin Kermani)

Spring 2020
  • FarmTogether (Artem Milinchuk, WG’12)
  • Fluid Biotech (John Wong, WG’20, WEMBA)
  • Haldi (Julia Huang, WG’11; Simran Karla)
  • (Wayne Pan, WG’07; Waleed Mohsen)
  • Superkin (Miriam Williams, WG’15; Tara Henning)
Fall 2019
  • iREITs (Thomas Foley, WG’20; Fred Canney, WG’20)
  • Luminal (Sam Ribnick, C’11)
  • LuxCreo (Mike Yang, WG’04; Michael Strohecker, WG’04; Steven Lee, ENG’14; Michael Hodge)
  • Relayto (Alex Shevelenko, C’97; W’97)

Spring 2019
  • Eclipse (Phong Ngo, WG’20)
  • (Mike Lunati, WG’13; Marc Suter; Ramin Ghelichi; Demtrios Kellari)
  • Inscribe Labs (John McDowell, WG’11)
  • ISO Thrive (Lyn Oswald, W’80; Jack Oswald; John Selling)
  • Love, Sylvie (Kristen Dumbeck, WG’20)
  • Olori (Tomide Awe, WG’17)

Fall 2018
  • Kasa Living (Roman Pedan, ENG’10, W’10)
  • TaskUnite (Bianca Gonzalez, NU’08, WG’19; Flora Chang, WG’19; Janak Agarwal, WG’19)
  • Workplace Hospitality Management (Daniel Doyon, W’06)
  • Wolox (Marina Ibarra, WG’12)
  • Zoba Life (Alice Zhang, WG’08)

Spring 2018
  • Boon VR (Ridhima Parvathaneni, ENG’13, W’13)
  • Canary Technologies (Harman Narula, WG’15; SJ Sawhney)
  • docCheer (Michael Jue, ENG’03; Nicholas Ng, ENG’03, GEN’04)
  • LifeSaver (Ted Chen, W’87, L’91; Mike Demele)

Fall 2017
  • Bear Flag Robotics (Igino Cafiero, WG’17; Aubrey Donnellan)
  • ClozeLoop (Cory Bray, W’06; Hilmon Sorey)
  • Hostfully (David Jacoby, W’01; Margot Schmorak)
  • (Daniel Judd, ENG’14, W’14; Renee Migdal, WG’83)
  • LadyMarry (Joanne Jiang, WG’13)
  • Novi Bank (Philip Cortes, WG’11)
  • Pivot Health Company (Tony Campos, WG’16)
  • SitterFriends (Fahad Jalal, WG’12)

Spring 2016
  • BioCellection, Inc. (Miranda Wang, C’16)
  • Qorum, Inc. (Andrew Pietra, WG’17)

  • Breach Response (Alonzo Ellis, WG’17; James Green, WG’17; Anderson Lunsford, WG’17)
  • InnaMed (Ronald AngSly, WG’17)
  • Spotful (Edward Jiang, WG’17; Gandis Mazeika, WG’17)
  • Stayz ( Evan Drake, WG’17; Justin Cleveland)

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 |

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