Penn’s Venture Lab has launched bi-weekly Community Dinners and Community Pitch Night events as part of ongoing changes.
Venture Lab — Penn’s entrepreneurship center located in Tangen Hall — has added two new types of events to its semester-wide roster of events. Beginning in Fall 2023, students who are part of Venture Lab’s Venture Initiation Program Community (VIP-C) program can attend Community Dinners and pitch nights that occur on alternating Wednesday nights. These sessions typically begin at 6:00 p.m. and are held at Tangen Hall.
Community Dinners are informal sessions where students involved in VIP-C can meet others in the program who share their interest in entrepreneurship. As the VIP-C program is open to undergraduate students, MBA students, and other postgraduate students from across Penn’s campus, these sessions serve as an opportunity for students to learn more about the ventures that other students are working on that they may not traditionally come across in their regular classes.
Community Pitch Nights provide opportunities for student founders of any stage to test and receive feedback on their pitches. Students are invited to either pitch or attend as an audience member to learn more about their peers’ ventures.
“We've heard from students for a very long time that the educational component is great, but they want more engagement and to see what others are doing. For that reason, we started doing these community events every Wednesday night,” Valentina Goutorova, director of the Venture Initiation Program, told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Mathematics Ph.D. student Eben Blaisdell, who attended one of the Community Dinners, told the DP that he enjoyed meeting new people in an informal setting.
“This event was my first ever with VIP-C,” Blaisdell said. “It was wonderful to meet so many people interested in solving interesting problems in novel ways.”
The addition of these two new recurring events is among several changes to the structure and program offerings by Venture Lab that began this semester. Venture Lab has additionally added several other program types, such as their Social Entrepreneurship Sprints and Salons and the introduction of the VIP Incubator.
Venture Lab is also working towards transitioning their VIP Workshops – which were previously held in-person and online – to online modules available to students through their Canvas site.
These changes are aimed at helping students better understand Venture Lab’s Venture Initiation Framework and to better track the progress of the ventures against the framework, according to Goutorova.
“We've seen a tremendous increase in interest in VIP and the number of students who want to start their ventures or are exploring how to start a venture. We had a huge community, which last year had maybe 500 ventures registered,” Goutorova said. “These new initiatives aim to help better guide these ventures towards our accelerator.”