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Startup Program

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“AI won’t take your job – it’s someone using AI who will take your job.”
Richard Baldwin, 
World Economic Forum
Growth Summit May 2023

Skills Developed

Our team enables young adults to expand their skillset in preparation for life in the 21st century


We call this the NIMBLE mindset:


and cognitive flexibility 






and inclusive leadership skills 


Critical Thinking

Complex problem-solving



and innovation



Investor + personal pitch


Team's design process from idea to pitch:

Idea Creation

Lean Business Plan

Market Validation

Iterative Prototyping

Human-Centered Design

Pitch Competition to VCs/other investors

The 2023 session's leaders and executive mentors

Danny Andreevformer Production Engineering Manager, Verdant Robotics

Brent Ahrens, General Partner, Canaan Partners

Yoeri Dassen, Venture Partner at 7Percent Ventures 

Kadair Eskandar, Founder of enso

Jeff Greger, Director, AARP, former UX designer, corporate anthropologist

David Hale, prior CEO of Gigwalk, Director at TechnoServe

Laureen Hidalgo, Senior Director, Salesforce

Annick Mohageg, Group Product Marketing Manager, Adobe Firefly

Colin McGrath, CEO of Brightband, senior software engineer, Netskope

Steven Nelemans, Founder & CEOLinked, Luna

Jeff Russakow, Three-time growth CEO; four-time Fortune 500 senior operating executive

Iris Sagi, Director of Philanthropy at FINCA International

Jody ShapiroFounder + CEO of Productiv, former Head of Google Analytics Premium

Diane Strachkowski, PhD + Instagram Influencer

Mariette Wharton, NIMBLE founder, exited tech founder, startup investor, Columbia MBA

Scott Wharton, CEO of Tandem PV, 4x startup founder

The session culminates in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition to judges (Venture Capitalists and other investors), including:


Brent Ahrens, General Partner at Canaan Partners

Eran Sandhaus, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, J-Impact Fund 

Shayna Modessari, Senior Vice President, Venture Debt Investor at Bridge Bank

Mariette WhartonNIMBLE founder, exited tech founder, startup investor, Columbia



July 22 – July 27, 2023
9 am – 3 pm, Mon–Fri


Fenwick & West
801 California St
Mountain View, CA 94041


How to Apply

Fill out the registration form
including waiver
and conduct form

Fee & Payment

$1,199 for the two-week session


Payment options:

@nimblemindset on Venmo on PayPal

email for credit card or

check payable to NIMBLE | PO Box 861

Los Altos, CA 94023


Full full refund by May 31 minus $50 processing fee

Contact for financial aid

  • What is the format of the Startup Program?
    A high-energy, hands-on two week-long program. Small teams work together, typically by age range (15-17, 18-21+), guided by industry executives.
  • Who leads the Startup Program?
    NIMBLE Founder, Mariette Wharton, a Columbia MBA, exited tech founder and investor in 100+ startups, develops and leads the program. A team of over 35 executives from startups and tech giants contribute expertise and feedback directly to teams. See our team of Silicon Valley industry experts
  • What are the steps of the startup process learned?
    Create an idea for a startup - based on a challenge in our community or world at large as well as the UN Sustainability Goals for 2030 Apply human-centered/design thinking Validate the idea in the market, assess product-market fit Rapidly prototype and iterate based on mentor and market feedback Plan the business using the lean business canvas model and revise with input Learn the art of the pitch with direct feedback on product concepts and prototypes Pitch to VCs and other investors ​
  • Who is in the program?
    The program attracts high-achieving, driven students from diverse backgrounds and regions, including 45% female. We strive to offer the rich diversity of geography and economic status and have a Scholarship Fund. ​ We have college students from a variety of universities (Berkeley, University of Chicago and Connecticut College as examples) as well as students from: Bellarmine, Castilleja, Cupertino High, Gunn, Harker, Homestead, Khan Lab, LAHS, Monta Vista, Menlo School, MVLA, Nueva, and Paly. We have also had students from New York, DC and Chicago in the US startup program and students from all over the world in global programs. ​
  • What is meant by hands-on / experiential learning?
    This not a lecture-heavy program. Our programs give you the chance to apply what you are learning: design thinking, ikigai, brain dominance theory, improv, practicing mindfulness, building prototypes and getting feedback on your ideas, for examples. Concepts are presented and then you get to work to apply them, generally in small groups (although there are some individual activities around mindfulness, self-assessment, and developing a personal pitch). ​
  • I know what IQ and EQ are but what is AQ?
    Adaptability Quotient (AQ) is the measure of how skilled you are in making intentional change in a dynamic environment. According to the Harvard Business Review, it is the new competitive advantage. Flexibility and agility is one of the core job skills the World Economic Forum identified in May 2023 as in demand. We help you acquire this skill by challenging the way you approach problems, providing opportunities to try new activities and specific exercises. The entire program is designed to increase your AQ.
  • In the videos and pictures, I see cardboard and craft materials. Explain.
    Many startups build a product and put it on the market without getting any feedback from customers. It's a surprise to them when it doesn't sell. It's far better to prototype using low-resolution materials and enable rapid, iterative designs. In the human-centered design thinking approach we show you, you build a prototype that others can interact with, either physically or on a software platform designed for that purpose. You get targeted, useful feedback that you would not get without a prototype. The faster you can do this, the more times you can iterate and arrive at a better solution. Cardboard and other low-resolution materials are used by savvy startups to prototype to avoid spending millions initially.
  • What is an example of a startup created at a NIMBLE Startup Program?
    A team created an Airbnb-like solution to the parking problem in downtown Mountain View. Park Daddy's idea is to have people who live near downtown rent their driveway spaces out and have local restaurants advertise the spaces. The team successfully implemented the startup with revenue-generating customers and restaurants.
  • What if I don't know anything about business? What if I don't think I want to be an entrepreneur?
    You are not expected to know anything about building or running a venture. We scaffold the process. You are expected to think, collaborate and research not figure out the steps. It is ok if you are not planning to be an entrepreneur. You can still develop skills that will help you will use in your career (and in life). Self-awareness, adaptability, creativity, communication, teamwork and empathy are essential life skills and needed for any job. The World Economic Forum's 2023 Future of Jobs report identifies all these skills as the most in demand.
  • Why improv?
    This program is infused with a bit of improv because it is a powerful tool to promote cognitive flexibility and to foster communication styles. If you consider another person's response as a "yes and..." opportunity, it's a mindset shift to collaborate better and find novel solutions. It's also fun and is team-building. ​
  • Do I need to have a startup idea in advance?
    You do not need to have an idea. As a group, we initiate idea creation (and validation) process together and small teams form with common interests to work on various concepts. Ideas come from problems that you see in your community, school or the world at large. We also consider the 2030 UN Sustainability Goals to think about problems that need to be addressed (climate, equity, etc.)
  • What if I I'm not located in Silicon Valley?
    We welcome participants from anywhere and have worked with students from all over the US, Europe and Africa. Contact us to help you find accommodations: or +1 650-397-1353 ​
  • Should I bring a friend?
    Some register alongside a friend or two or even a sibling (and we offer discounts in these cases), but it's not necessary as new friendships form. The first day we have ice-breaking activities and many friendships form quickly. ​
  • Why this program and not one at a university campus?
    Living on a campus is a valuable experience but the quality of these programs vary (and are not typically of the same caliber of the university). Ours is unique : Experiential rather than lecture-based. Consistently working in teams. Dual focus on 21st century leadership skills AND innovation. Team of over 35 industry executives provide direct input to teams. The majority have decades of expertise as C-suite leaders and venture capital partners across a variety of industries and functions. Two of our mentors are less than 10 years out of college with technical experience in AI, blockchain, and robotics.
  • Since we are moving into an AI-driven economy, how will this be handled?
    AI is integrated into many applications today and there are many ways you can use it to accelerate the development of your startup solution. We will help you: Understand AI and how it works how it can be leveraged what applications exist that you use today to save time on your work how to optimize prompts build AI into your solution if you want
  • What is included in the fee for the 2-week program?
    Our 60 hour program ($20 per hour) includes hands-on leadership and innovation training (a mini accelerator), design thinking, self-awareness and other leadership activities (mindfulness, improv, personal pitch development, cultivating good habits, inclusive leadership), networking with high-achieving peers and Silicon Valley executive mentors, pitch training and Shark Tank-style pitch competition as well as lunch and refreshments.
  • What are examples of ways the mentors help the teams?
    One team had an idea to develop replaceable soles on basketball shoes. The idea came from one of the team member's observation that the uppers of his shoes would be in great condition but the soles would wear out fast. Mentor David Gilmour, a CTO with both a Physics and MBA from Harvard, pointed out that their materials design would not work from a physics standpoint. The team analyzed different materials options and ultimately pivoted to a different solution. A pivot is not a failure but a necessary step when the evidence is pointing to poor market timing, too much competition, or violation of the laws of physics! ​ Mentors (VCs and others) give feedback during pitch practices and then pitch to VCs and investors and discover the holes in their logic, get challenged on assumptions about costs or customer adoption and then revise their plan and pitch again.
  • What does a typical day look like?
    Each day is different but the common thread is we introduce concepts briefly (5 minutes or less) and then you get to work thinking and researching. This is a sample from our one-week program of an afternoon schedule. Do you have other questions? Call us at 650.397.1353 or email us at

See The Reviews on Google

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This camp has quite honestly changed my life. With all of the personalized support from Mariette and every other business figured who donated their time, I have the confidence, strategies, and enthusiasm to create a company. We learned everything from brain-swarming, design thinking, business models, to the art of the elevator pitch. I can not believe the deal I got by going to this camp (in terms of money, time, and energy)! I learned so much valuable information from this camp that could change a startup from a zero to a hero. I now have the foundation to pursue my dream career—one I built myself. I recommend this camp to ANYONE who wants to change the world, work for themselves, and create something out of nothing. This camp is the real deal.

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Shalin Z.

I participated in the week-long summer start-up camp and had so many takeaways. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in potentially creating their own product or company because the camp covers the process of going from an idea to pitching it in just one week. The camp is extremely interesting, educational, and fun, and there was not a moment where I felt bored (coming from someone who has a short-attention span). I learned so much about business, users, connections, and more while meeting many experienced entrepreneurs Mariette brought in. Mariette is so kind, engaged, and is dedicated to helping each individual learn more about start-ups. Her experience and wisdom is very special and everyone should have a chance to participate in the camp.

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Kai L.

I really enjoyed the program that Mariette and the whole NIMBLE team put together. The camp was such an amazing opportunity that I was fortunate to be able to take part in. The program offers so much in such a short amount of time. Having industry experts helping and mentoring us through out the week on our projects was an invaluable experience. Everyone was super friendly, kind, helpful and knowledgable. I learned a lot from the week I participated in. I would recommend this to everyone, especially people who want to broaden their look on the world around them.

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