Startup Institute

Startup Institute is a career accelerator, offering transformative educational experiences for career changers and recent grads that combines hard skills with cultural acumen to drastically increase the impact of startup employees.
Learn about the full-time program →

RampUp is Startup Institute's part-time, community-driven learning experience that combines online resources, in-person meetings, and instructors to help students build technical skills from the ground up. Currently available classes include: Intro to Ruby, Intro to Web Design, and Intro to Technical Marketing. Learn about RampUp →

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Today is a special day for Startup Institute, for our alumni, and for all of the communities we impact across the world.

Over the past 2.5 years we’ve discovered a global need for our style of education and approach to talent development. We made it our mission to expand our community, to find, foster, and fuel innovative ecosystems across the world, and to that end, last month we successfully closed our three-million-dollar Series A funding round, led by our wonderful partners at Silicon Valley Bank. And now it’s time we take the company to the next level. It’s time to take that validation, that encouragement, and all of our know-how and resources, and use them to continue growing the Startup Institute, helping people from all walks of life to find jobs that they love, and fueling growth in the innovation communities that we call home.

So, we ask you to please join us in welcoming Startup Institute’s new CEO, Diane Hessan.


Diane has an incredible passion for growing people, and a true love for the chaos that comes with a growing organization. Her track record of turning something good into something great is phenomenal, but more than that: Diane has been there since we were still called Boston Startup School. She hosted some of our first classes at her last company (which she founded), Communispace, and has been a present and vocal supporter of our cause ever since. Meeting someone who embraces the humanity of what we do, embodies growth and integrity and cares deeply about every individual we impact seemed like a nearly impossible feat, but Diane is all of those and so much more.

Our extended family is the strongest community of difference makers in the world. Today we’re writing to say thank you to all of you who have been a part of our journey, and to make a simple promise: that we will continue to learn and evolve, that we will keep our mission pure and true, and that we will continue changing the lives of our students, and improving the world we live in, one job at a time, with our new CEO leading the way.

Welcome Diane, we’re incredibly excited to have you.

- Aaron, Katie, Shaun & Reed

We’re very happy to announce that we’ll be supporting Techstars Patriot Boot Camp this weekend, September 26-28, in Madison, Wisconsin. 


Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery by James Steakley. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The skills our military bestows during service align perfectly with the ability to succeed in a high-growth company. The ability to focus on the task at hand, rapidly shift priorities under uncertain circumstances, and steadily perform in a high-pressure environment are core attributes developed by all of our military servicemen and women. It so happens that these are the skills desired by young companies looking to innovate and grow.

Through Patriot Boot Camp, active military and veterans (and their spouses) can use the experience they received serving their country to be a part of the next generation of innovators here at home.


Our co-founder Shaun Johnson will be providing mentorship during the weekend. In addition, he’s bringing with him scholarships good for 50% towards the tuition Startup Institute’s Fall Program.

If you’re attending Patriot Boot Camp, be sure to find Shaun and set up some time with him. It should be a rewarding weekend for everyone involved. 

We’ll shout it from the rooftops: our alumni are remarkable! 600+ Startup Institute grads scatter the globe, sharing their incredible drive and spirit; making a difference and helping companies to grow. Today, we want to give a high-five to a few of the many doing us proud:


Once upon a time, Adam Hasler was a student in our Boston Fall ‘12 Product & Design track. After graduating, he worked as head of product at EdTrips for over a year before leaving. Reengaging with the SI community and partner companies, Adam was introduced to The Big Studio. The connection was instantaneous. Sparks flew, and Adam fell in love with the cofounders. Big Studio soon proposed an offer and Adam accepted.  Adam is now working happily ever after as a UX designer/ developer. He is a frequent visitor at SIB, paying it forward to our new students as an instructor and alumni panel participant.


Introducing Elizabeth Long, Application Specialist at MOCA Systems, working on their newest offering Prior to Startup Institute, Liz worked as a legal assistant, but the work didn’t thrill her. Curious about coding, she discovered Girl Develop It and started a chapter in Boston so she could learn. Liz riled up the gumption to leave the lawyers in her dust and joined the Spring ‘14 Product & Design track, where she met the folks at partner company MOCA and found a perfect culture fit. She continues to shake up stereotypes and empower ladies through technology as a Chapter Leader at Girl Develop It, and was featured in a Boston Globe article highlighting coding as literacy. In Liz’s words,“the Internet is not this thing that’s separate from you any more. You can be part of it.” Liz Long- you inspire us.


Michael Donoghue is a startup-junkie through-and-through, and one of our most recent grads. Michael came to New York’s Sales & Account Management track from a financial tech startup in Edinburgh, looking to deep dive into a new tech ecosystem. Michael had no preconceived notions of where he might land next, and spent the summer reflecting on and defining his goals while evaluating the options. SoftLayer biz and community developer and SINY Summer ‘13 alumna Jennifer Litorja ended up connecting him to her company, and Michael hopped the pond to get started as community development manager at their London location. Two weeks in, Michael is linked-up with the SI community in his third startup city of 2014 and says SoftLayer is “so far…  so excellent.”


Are you one of the 80% of adults who don’t enjoy their work? Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend has some advice for you.

In any startup community there are a series of interconnected engines that are crucial for success—talent is perhaps the least well-understood, and the hardest to scale… There is magic in the [Startup Institute] program: the graduates arrive on the job with a mindset and pace that gives them an immediate positive impact.

— David Cohen, Founder and CEO of Techstars

We have exciting news to share. As you may have heard, Silicon Valley Bank has invested $3 million in Startup Institute to support our worldwide expansion of offices and programs. Startup Institute’s and SVB’s visions are aligned, and we feel incredibly fortunate to move forward together with a shared mission.

The first Startup Institute program launched in the Summer of 2012, based on the observation that the best startups in Boston had a hard time finding people who could help grow their companies. Candidates seemed to have the “hard” skills, but failed to contribute when hired because they were disoriented and failed to understand how high-growth innovative companies worked.

The founders worked with their friends and networks to create a curriculum to teach the skills they knew were needed; testing a hunch along the way: that “hard skills” are only one small component of What It Takes to Survive in the innovation sector. Candidates hired based solely on technical expertise lacked important “soft” skills, like sociability, humility, and purpose (yes, those are skills; come sit in on a class and we’ll prove it to you). They assumed that the main benefit of doing so was that all the founders they had worked with at TechStars Boston would find it easier to meet and hire qualified employees who could actually thrive in a startup environment. We didn’t yet know that “transferrable skills” and “emotional intelligence” were concepts that would resonate loudly with not only cohort-after-cohort of amazing people looking to switch careers in cities across the world, but with the innovative companies around the world that hire them (often before they even graduate from Startup Institute).

In short: we had no idea what the demand for this style of education would be, but we soon found out.

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