The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

Penn Entrepreneurship on the Rise

by Ryan M., M&T Class of 2014

by Ryan M., M&T Class of 2014

Penn is an awesome place to be a student entrepreneur. Over the past several years Penn has built itself into one of the top universities for entrepreneurship in the country (recently ranked #2). To add to that, the city of Philadelphia itself is continuing to make an effort to build a strong startup community. If you are looking to be an entrepreneur, coming to Philly is a good choice.

As a primer on Penn’s startup scene check out some of the notable resources Penn has to offer below (at the end of this post).

In addition to these resources at Penn, the M&T curriculum is particularly well suited for entrepreneurship. It is very useful to have a versatile skill set in the early days of a startup. The curriculum for the M&T Program provides students with the the financial, business and technical knowledge needed to be successful running your own company. The program specific M&T courses, Management 237 and Management 235, are good examples of this.

Two great resources I’ve been heavily involved with on campus are the Weiss Tech House Innovation Fund and the Dorm Room Fund. The Dorm Room Fund is one of the first venture capital funds run by students, for students. With $500,000 from First Round Capital, the student run investment team makes on average $20,000 investments in student run start-ups (in the form of a convertible note). The Weiss Tech House Innovation Fund is another fully student run VC group at Penn that funds up to 20 student startups a year for a maximum of $5,000 each (in the form of a grant). These are very unique opportunities available to Penn undergraduate students. I have found serving on these two investment committees to be my most rewarding experiences to date at Penn.

It is nice to be able to help support fellow student entrepreneurs in the Philly community through providing capital and mentoring. Students at Penn are working on some awesome ideas and it is great hearing pitches and working with these entrepreneurs on a weekly basis. Further, both funds offer an invaluable real world experience when it comes to making investment decisions with meaningful amounts of money. I always learn something new after each investment deliberation. Serving on these funds has given me a taste of what it means to be an angel or VC investor and also helps me understand what goes into successfully executing a pitch as an entrepreneur.

Some notables on campus to check out:

University Clubs/Activities:
Weiss Tech House
Wharton Small Business Development Center
Wharton e-Club
Wharton Venture Partners
Wharton Social Venture Fund
Dining Philosophers
Penn Founders’ Club

PennApps (largest student run hackathon in the world)
Wharton Private Equity Conference
Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference
BizTech Conference
Wharton Business Plan Competition
Med Innovation Tournament
PennVention Competition

Funding Opportunities:
Dorm Room Fund
Wharton Innovation Fund
Weiss Tech House Innovation Fund
Wharton Social Venture Fund
Wharton Fellowships/Awards
Wharton Angel Network

Wharton Venture Initiation Program (WVIP)
Legal Clinic
IP Clinic
Entrepreneurs in Residence

Ryan is a current M&T junior in the Class of 2014. He studies Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering within Penn Engineering and Finance and Management in the Wharton School.

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