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Sahitya Senapathy[email protected]
Akash Chauhan[email protected]
Khushi Shelat[email protected]
Jeffrey Meng[email protected]

How to Start a Startup at Penn

Student Groups

Penn Tech Trek - Annual trip for 15 Penn students to Silicon Valley to visit startups and explore the innovation in SV

Wharton Entrepreneurship Club (Undergrad) - Fostering innovation among undergraduates by holding workshops, hosting speakers, and providing resources to early ventures

Wharton Entrepreneurship Club (MBA) - Building a supportive community for current and aspiring entrepreneurs at Wharton

Weisslabs - Weiss Tech House's student-run 5 week startup incubator. Participants present at a final Demo Day to a panel of venture investors

Founder's Club - bringing together people who share the goal of launching a startup. Members have diverse backgrounds (e.g., engineers, lawyers, product developers, medical students) and include students at both the undergrad and grad level from several schools at Penn and Drexel, as well as alumni and Philly locals. Hold weekly, specially focused meetings to address key topics for founders, e.g. raising money, hiring, product validation, or accounting.

Wharton Fintech - connecting leading FinTech organizations with students and professionals.

Hackathons and Competitions

PennApps - UPenn's largest Hackathon - usually occurs in the Fall early September. No prior experience is necessary, but online applications are required since enrollment is limited.

Pennvention - UPenn's premier tech innovation competition. Winners are eligible for up to $20,000 in prizes. Deadline to apply is mid-February, when teams are expected to submit a 5-slide deck. The competition spans until April, where finalists are invited to pitch live. Teams must have at least one full-time enrolled undergraduate or graduate Penn student to be eligible.

Penn Wharton Startup Challenge - Student-founded new ventures (must be a new venture started during a team member's enrollment at UPenn) pitch to a live audience of alumni judges to win funding - first place receives $30,000. Applications open early December and close late January. Semifinalists (top 25) are announced late February and in early May, prize winners are selected at the Startup Showcase

Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition - Business plan competition for teams addressing problems with educational technology and educational inequity. Applications open early March and close late April. Semifinalists announced in June. No affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania of any kind is required to apply.

Y Prize - Competitors propose emerging technology applications for one or more of selected featured technologies. Each team must submit a video pitch and slide deck that will be evaluated on market opportunity, value proposition, team strength, and execution plan. In November, four finalists will be selected to advance to the Grand Finale held in late January. The winning team receives a $10K grand prize and is granted automatic entry to the semi-finals of the Penn Wharton Startup Challenge. Teams must include one current Penn student.

Pear Competition - $25K uncapped note and resources to launch your start-up. No idea is too early. More than 10 student teams win. Apply January-March.


VIP - Community (VIP-C) - Penn's casual startup accelerator - all student ventures are welcome to apply, "from those who are still learning the basics of transforming an idea into a business plan, to savvy CEOs working on their second startup."

VIP-Xcelerate (VIP-X) - intense accelerator program over 3 months for dedicated student and alumni entrepreneurs

Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator - $10k for R&D of a proposed innovation idea that has an existing low-fidelity prototype which has been minimally tested.

University Resources

Center for Healthcare Innovation - facilitating rapid disciplined development, testing, and implementation of strategies to reimagine healthcare delivery for better patient outcomes

Tangen Hall - Supporting student entrepreneurship and innovation, this new building will include incubator spaces to pilot student-led ventures such as a Makerspace, Test Kitchen, and Integrated Product Design (IPD) space in partnership with the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Penn Design.

Innovation-Corps (I-Corps) - Work alongside Penn faculty, post-docs, and students to validate startup ideas via customer and market testing

GRASP Lab - general robotics, automation, sensing & perception laboratory

Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic - Providing IP advice, counseling, and transactional support

Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic - Free transactional legal services provided by senior Law students

Weiss Tech House - student-run hub of technological innovation that holds tech competitions, workshops, and social events

Penn Center for Innovation Resources

How to Start a Startup at Penn

Resources for UPenn Entrepreneurs

Notable Courses


MGMT212 - Social Entrepreneurship - create a business to attack a social problem and thereby accomplish both social impact and financial sustainability.

MGMT214 - Technology and Innovation Strategy - The course is designed to meet the needs of future managers, entrepreneurs, consultants and investors who must analyze and develop business strategies in technology-based industries.

MGMT231/801 - Venture Implementation - focuses on developing a validated opportunity or concept into a venture that is ready for seed financing and/or launching the product or service. Get practice pitching to an outside audience of VCs and founders, mingle with MBAs, and find potential cofounders with subject matter expertise.

School of Engineering & Applied Sciences

EAS 545 | Engineering Entrepreneurship 1 - Case-based course that runs through the ins and outs of starting a startup (e.g. customers, sales, marketing, team, competition)

EAS546 | Engineering Entrepreneurship 2 - Hands-on course where you have the opportunity to apply what you have learned in EAS 545 to a mock venture where you present a pitch and business plan

EAS 549 - EAS 546 but for real companies


Contrary - University-focused venture fund investing up to $500K in emerging startups launching from the university scene around the US

Dorm Room Fund - First Round Capital's pre-seed investing branch - providing up to $20k to student startups

Jerome Fisher M&T Innovation Fund - Seed-stage grants between $1,000 - 5,000 and development resources for UPenn startups

Unshackled Ventures - The best place for U.S. immigrants to launch a company, no matter their current work authorization - from student visas to being a new U.S. citizen

Ground Up Ventures - Early stage venture capital providing checks up to $500K

The MBA Fund - A network of founders, executives and investors committed to mentoring and investing in leading early-stage, student and alumni founders

Pear - Pear Competition winners receive $25K

Penn Wharton Innovation Fund - Providing $250 at product validation stage, $1000 at product implementation stage, and $5000 at Launch stage. Applications open in the Fall for each academic year

President's Innovation Prize - Empowering innovative UPenn seniors by rewarding a $100,000 implementation prize (plus $50,000 stipend) to the best commercial venture with an emphasis on positive impact

President's Engagement Prize - Empowering UPenn seniors to implement local, national or global engagement projects by providing a $100,000 prize (plus $50,000 stipend) per award winner.

Weiss Fund - Providing $500 - $2,000 to students pursuing early-stage ventures

Red and Blue Ventures - Fund focusing on investments within IT ventures from UPenn

RDV - General Catalyst's pre-seed investing branch - student team building a large network of student founders

Robinhood Ventures - A group of angel investors based in Philadelphia

Summer Venture Award - $10,000 award to pursue your startup over the summer

City of Philadelphia Resources - Scaling tech communities in Philadelphia by connecting founders through events

Philly Startup Leaders - Connecting startups and entrepreneurial talent in Philadelphia to one another

Philly New Tech Meetup - Growing Philadelphia tech communities by hosting monthly meetings with speakers, tech demos, startup pitches, and networking

Philadelphia Department of Commerce - Creating an economic environment in Philadelphia conductive to startup success

PIDC - Utilizing public and private funding to spur venture development and job creation in Philadelphia

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