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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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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Transitioning careers is never easy. It is inherently risky. Changing trajectories and moving into an unfamiliar, if exciting new world is, by nature, drenched with uncertainty.

But then again, your work does take up a bloody lot of your life. A calculated risk in the interest of a job you’ll love might just be a risk worth taking.

If the monotony of your corporate job has been getting you down, a fast-paced and dynamic startup role might be the choice for you. 

Not sure you can make the switch? Here are some common concerns, and reasons why transitioning  from the corporate world to a tech startup is easier than you think: 

  1. Credibility:

Modern industries are always changing. It’s easy to feel at odds when you’re competing for jobs against people with lots more experience in the field. Tech, specifically, is continuously, and quickly evolving; giving-way to new products, consumer trends, and problems that call on different skill-sets than some more traditional fields.

The worst mistake you can make is underestimating the value of your own experiences. A sales background is invaluable to any business, but many early-stage companies don’t understand the science or art. Consider your own style and strengths to target the startups most in need of your talents. 

Sector-specific knowledge can play to your advantage, too. For example, if you understand how traditional finance works, you can help a startup incite disruption in London’s booming Fintech sector.

Don’t let a lack of technical chops deter you; you’d be surprised at how adaptable your background is, and how far your passion and grit can take you. Capitalize on your strengths, and follow your bliss to engage in a meaningful side project. Your extra efforts will spotlight you as an enthusiastic do-er.

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With the multitude of online learning options, including a whopping 99 venture-backed education startups, you can find a class on almost any topic these days. From fashion design to the inner workings of Einstein to early New England poetry, the skill levels and content density you’re looking for are certainly out there. This too is true for some of today’s most sought-after skills: web development, web design, and technical marketing. The difference being, these 21st century skills are often sought after by working professionals — people who hope to use their freshly minted skills immediately in their current position or the job they’re aspiring to. They need not know how to do something, but have experience actually doing that something. That however, as you might have guessed, is more complicated that an 8 week pre-recorded class. Why? Sometimes you just get stuck.

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