FAQ – Silicon Valley Start-UP

Have questions about the program? See below!

Program costs

The program fee is $3495 USD (plus processing fees), which is due at time of registration. The fee includes:
  • On-campus housing for the duration of the program
  • Tuition and mentorship fees
  • Breakfast, lunch, and snacks
  • One weekend excursion
  • Program materials
  • Transportation (Includes airport pickup and dropoff on the first and last day of the program, and travel to companies during program days. All extra and/or personal travel not included.)

What you’ll be learning

Come with an idea – we’ll do the rest! Silicon Valley Start-UP aims to teach you innovative entrepreneurship methods, and connect you to experienced mentors and company leaders. Through a combination of seminars, hands-on workshops, and company visits, this program will be a guided adventure through Silicon Valley startup life. As the program progresses, you’ll refine and ideate your startup idea as a case study so you can see your new knowledge in action immediately.


What can I expect from the program?

By the end of the program, you will

  • Refine, validate, and actualize a startup idea
  • Experience an accelerated crash-course in startup life
  • Immerse yourself in the culture of Silicon Valley
  • Network with and learn from Silicon Valley experts
  • Challenge yourself and grow your business knowledge
  • Pitch to Silicon Valley investors and/or VCs
  • Meet like-minded students and build lasting connections


You’ll also finish the program as a certified SVSUP Alumni—a potential highlight for resumes, college applications, and personal profiles.


How is Silicon Valley Start-UP different from other student entrepreneurship programs?

With 36 years (and counting!) of experiences in supporting and providing knowledge and resources to startups, Silicon Valley Forum has an unmatched network of connections, as well as years of experience in creating high-quality startup programs. Our programs aren’t just tours and photo ops – they’re unique opportunities to make amazing connections, receive practical and actionable advice, and connect with the Silicon Valley ecosystem like a local entrepreneur. The entire history of our organization was built right here on the Valley floor – we’ve been a hub for thought leaders, innovators, and tech luminaries since the beginning.


Will I get academic credit for going through the program?

The program will not provide any academic credit, but we will issue a certificate of completion at the end of the program.


What is the format of the learning experience?

Each day we’ll focus on a specific area of startup development, such as (but not limited to)

  • Building a Business Plan
  • Idea & Product Validation
  • Product & Technology
  • Marketing & Growth
  • Sales & Partnerships
  • Fundraising
  • Personal Branding & Leadership


The program is a blend of seminars and lectures, TED-style talks, and hands-on workshop sessions (so you can immediately implement what you’ve learned into your own project). The schedule also includes visits to Silicon Valley tech companies and/or startup hubs, where you’ll hear advice on innovation, strategy, business development, and founder success stories.


Who will be teaching or speaking during the program?

Silicon Valley Forum has an extensive network of founders, investors and senior executives, and we’re proud to share their expertise with UP program participants. Find the list of 2019 speaker and mentors here (2020 to be announced – stay tuned!).

Where does the program take place?

SVSUP will be hosted at San Jose State University for all class work; students stay in double-occupancy rooms in the newly-updated dorms at Campus Village 2.

Program address:

San Jose State University
1 Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192

Learn more about SJSU

In addition to class work, we will also be visiting local tech companies and startups for an up-close look at the Silicon Valley ecosystem. All transportation will be provided by the SVF staff.

Application criteria

Who should apply?

This program is intended for aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world—both current students and recent grads are welcome (and any degree/field of study). Whether you already have the seeds of a startup idea or you’d simply like the experience of being part of a company in the US, this program will be an exciting challenge that will help you grow as a modern entrepreneur.


Any requirements or restrictions?

You must be:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Fluent in English (classes will be taught in English)
  • Able to travel to the US for two weeks
  • Ready to work!


Can I join the program even if I’m not currently enrolled as a student? 

Absolutely! The purpose of the program is for you to learn how to build a startup and learn from the startup ecosystem in the heart of Silicon Valley.


What is the advantage of applying early?

There are only 25 spots available in the program, and applications will be approved on a rolling basis..


Do I need to have a business idea I plan to pursue prior to applying?

You don’t have to have a startup idea to apply for Silicon Valley Start-UP, but we strongly encourage it (you never know – today’s short pitch could become the next big thing!).


How does the final pitch night work? Will I be able to raise capital?

The Pitch Night is for you to practice pitching your idea on stage, and practice answering questions and receiving feedback from real Silicon Valley investors (a crucial experience when building a startup). The company you build during the program, while complete and ready to scale, will be too early-stage for a real investment—the value is in the experience itself.


Are scholarships/ financial support available?

At this time, we unfortunately do not have scholarships or financial aid available.

Cancellation and refund policy

If you wish to cancel and receive a full refund (please note: all refunds do NOT include processing fees), you must submit your request in writing at least 45 days prior to the program start date. If you submit your request up to 15 days before the program start date (or between May 1st – May 30th, 2020), you will receive a refund equal to 50% of the full program fee. If you submit your request within 14 days of the program start date, you are not eligible to receive a refund. Cancellation requests are valid only upon Silicon Valley Forum confirming receipt of your request.

April 30th – last day to cancel and receive a full refund, less processing fees

May 30th – last day to cancel and receive a 50% refund, less processing fees


A Note About Visas:

For all international students – please note that visa applications can take up to 60 days to process – plan accordingly! Even if your visa application is rejected, the payment schedule above still applies. If your visa is not fully approved by February 29th, 2020, your seat will be released and we will refund your tuition (less processing fees). Late registration students must have a fully approved Visa by May 10th, 2020.


NEW: COVID-19: Precautions and quick info

The coronavirus/COVID-19 has been making headlines around the world, and like all of you we’re keeping a close eye on the situation–especially with international travel involved. A quick FAQ is below:

  1. Is the program still happening? Yes, SVSUP 2020 is still very much in progress! With a few months between the current crisis and the kickoff day, we are reasonably confident things will be more or less back to normal.
  2. What if my country is on the travel ban list? If the CDC has changed, increased, or maintained a travel ban that includes your country, you will be entitled to a complete refund of your program payment (less processing fees). View the list of countries here.
  3. What are we doing to prepare? Currently we’re taking reasonable health personal health precautions. San Jose State University (our hosts and your home during the program) has had no reported cases so far, and have informed us they are taking all reasonable steps to keep the campus safe. Read their blog here for more info.Should COVID-19 continue to present a public health crisis when the 2020 program starts, we will take any further steps recommended by public health experts – whether it’s a face mask or hand sanitizer, we’ll make sure you have what you need to stay safe.

Contact us

I have questions that aren’t listed here—how can I get in touch with you?

Feel free to email us at startUPinfo@siliconvalleyforum.com.