San Francisco, CA: Innovation and Startup Culture 

Set on Wharton’s San Francisco campus, Innovation and Startup Culture provides a whirlwind introduction to the world of new venture creation. Throughout the intensive two-week summer program, students will learn the strategies successful entrepreneurs use to generate new ideas and develop them into disruptive high-growth ventures. 


Wharton’s Innovation and Startup Culture program introduces hands-on experiences in all aspects of the venture creation process. Working in teams, students will generate a new business idea, assess its profit potential, build an innovative model, and test and iterate as they drive toward product-market fit. The program culminates in “pitch day,” where teams will have the opportunity to present their venture and MVP.  

Throughout a 9-day schedule filled with lectures, activities, and company visits across Silicon Valley, students will develop a new appreciation of the joys and challenges that come with building a world-changing startup.     

Wharton Innovation and Startup Culture participants will: 

  • Attend lectures and presentations from Wharton instructors, alumni, and entrepreneurs on Wharton’s San Francisco campus, using the same classrooms as Wharton Executive MBA students  
  • Learn idea generation strategies, including ways to create value for both people and the planet  
  • Implement strategies and research to analyze profit potential, develop innovative business models, and achieve product-market fit  
  • Work in teams to generate and test new business ideas that will be presented at pitch day  
  • Explore the vibrant city of San Francisco, including visits to local startups 


For Wharton Professor Tyler Wry, innovation is mindset as much as a business practice. Read a sneak peak of what to expect in our Innovation and Startup Culture location-based program.

All participants who successfully complete the program will earn a Wharton Global Youth Certificate of Completion. 


Academic classes are held Monday-Friday of week one, and Monday through Thursday of week two within the Wharton San Francisco academic campus. Extracurricular and social activities are available in the evenings and on weekends. Students move in on Sunday pre-program, and move out the final Friday of the program.   

While each day varies in format, a typical day includes: 

  • 8:15-8:45 – Shuttle from university dorms to Wharton San Francisco academic campus 
  • 9:00-10:30am – Topics lecture 
  • 10:30-10:45am – Mid-morning break 
  • 10:45-12:00pm – Recitation/small-group activity 
  • 12:00-1:30pm – Lunch & student team meetings 
  • 1:30-2:30 – Topics lecture/startup venture guest speaker 
  • 2:30-4:30pm – Simulation or small group activity/site visit to startup venture in Bay Area 
  • 4:30-5:15 – Shuttle back to university dorms 

Session topics include: 

  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship 
  • Hybrid Ventures 
  • Business Model Generation 
  • Commercial and Social Innovation 
  • Venture Implementation  

In the evenings, students will have a number of extracurricular and social activities to choose from, as well as opportunities to explore the art, history, and culture of San Francisco. Students can also opt to work on their final project with their group and/or relax at the dorm. 

Please note, some days may not follow this schedule as there could be a site visit off campus or a simulation in lieu of lecture/recitation schedule. 



High school students currently enrolled in grades 9-11 looking to explore innovation and startup culture. No formal business background is required. International applicants are welcome.


Admission to Wharton’s Innovation and Startup Culture program is selective. Selections are based on a record of academic excellence and a genuine interest in bringing an idea/product, service, or business to life. Interested students are strongly encouraged to submit an application by the priority deadline.  

Please note that participation in the Innovation and Startup Culture program does not guarantee admission into Penn. 

Instructional Team

Academic Director: Tyler Wry 

Professor Tyler Wry is an award-winning researcher and teacher at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies how entrepreneurs create new products, services, and business models that successfully merge purpose and profits. Professor Wry’s research has been published in the field’s top academic journals and is featured widely in the popular business press. For the past 10 years, he has taught venture creation to students at levels that range from high school to PhD studies, and everything in between. Professor Wry is also a sought-after speaker and consultant who works closely with social entrepreneurs and venture capital investors to help them understand, scale, and sustain their positive impacts.    

Academic Directors advise the Wharton Global Youth team on instructor hiring and develops the program curriculum, including but not limited to: course topics, suggested activities, readings and capstone projects.

Program Leader: Stefano Rumi

Stefano Rumi is a former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Marshall School of Business, and a Research Fellow in the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab at the University of Southern California. His research interests revolve around non-market strategy related to social and environmental impact, examining how a variety of actors, including entrepreneurs, traditional firms, and impact investors make decisions and navigate challenges related to social change. His research has been published in Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the DeGruyter Handbook of Social Entrepreneurship, among other outlets. Over the years, he has also advised several foundations and philanthropists on impact strategy related to a variety of social challenges. He holds a BA magna cum laude in sociology from the University of Virginia, where he studied as a Jefferson Scholar. 

“My classmates and I completed a very fun and interactive course about entrepreneurship where we learned everything from idea creation to pitching an idea to investors. The program got me super excited about entrepreneurship and creating my own business in the future." – Mahin H., Pennsylvania, USA