Stanford Innovation Academy (SVIA)

Minimum Viable Product (MVP): At the core of any startup is a hypothesis about big problems that many people face and a means of solving that problem.  The MVP is the easiest way to test these hypotheses, as the simplest way to show your ideas to potential customers and learn as much as possible from them at that time.

About the Silicon Valley Innovation Academy (SVIA)

SVIA exposes students to the Silicon Valley technology ecosystem through lectures, panels, in-person visits, and curriculum that discusses the unique resources for innovative ideas.

Application Questions

SVIA is an intense hands-on immersion in the practice and culture of the lean start-up methodology. The application is designed in the same manner. In addition to skill and personality based questions, applicants will be asked to answer the following prompts with brief responses: 

In 140 characters (one Tweet), answer each of the following questions:

What is a problem you want to solve that affects at least 1,000,000 people? (e.g. The health risks of being stuck in traffic for hours each day.)

Who are the people affected by the problem? Be as specific as possible. (e.g. Commuters in the most congested cities: Manila; Jakarta, Beijing, & Rio de Janeiro.)

What useful skill would you offer to help your SVIA team? (e.g. My team will benefit from my creative skills, especially graphic design (print and web).)

What will make SVIA successful to you?(e.g. Learning about the mindset of investors, advisors, and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley!; or-  Making great friends from around the world, and building my first prototype!)

Schedule at a Glance

Week 1

The First Pitch and Team Building

Week 2

Problem Centric Innovation

Week 3

Design Thinking

Week 4

Building Minimum Viable Products

Week 5

Experiencing the Innovation Ecosystem

Week 6

Professional Development

Week 7

Stanford Sharks Competition

The First Pitch and Team Building (Week 1)

During the first week of Summer Session, SVIA participants with an idea will offer a brief presentation of their initial concepts to other SVIA attendees. In a blitz, you will recruit or join a team of four (4) to help develop and eventually pitch the idea to investors at the end of the summer. Facilitators will assist with team formation, if needed.

Problem-Centric Innovation (Week 2)

At the root of every great company is a big problem that needs to be solved.  Problems are the currency of Silicon Valley.  Newly-formed teams will go through a workshop to develop an understanding of how to identify these problems, test hypotheses about them, and eventually build a strong solution.

Design Thinking (Week 3)

Learn from experts in the world of creative problem solving. Explore and apply the design thinking process to your team and problem to think about how to bring great solutions to the market.

Team Visit: Building Minimum Viable Products (Week 4)

Once you pass the first hurdle of identifying an unmet need and building a team, you will consider how to quickly and cheaply test central hypotheses by building prototypes that efficiently harness the essence of your solutions.

Experiencing the Innovation Ecosystem  (Week 5)

Explore Lean Startup modeling, execution, and the unique assets that support innovation in Silicon Valley through site visits to local tech firms.

Professional Development (Week 6)

Silicon Valley professionals will provide personalized advice and mentorship to teams through panel discussions. Take this opportunity to ask specific questions and learn directly from area innovators while refining your project and pitch.

Stanford Sharks (Week 7)

Modeled on the popular game show “Shark Tank,” the top teams selected from the Academy will pitch to successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as all of the other teams watching in the live audience. This high-pressure experience will be your chance to take the stage and spotlight. Teams should detail implementation of ideas and demonstrate confidence, professionalism and high-functioning teamwork.

Teamwork and Project Development (Weeks 1-7)

Once you have your team assembled, you will work throughout the summer to develop your project. Establish goals, benchmarks and schedules needed to bring your idea to life in the hopes of presenting to entrepreneurs in the final round. Program facilitators will offer support in formal ways (open office hours, panels and workshops) and informally through online engagement.