The Bootcamp aims to build skills and convey concepts useful during the early stages of launching a startup. We plan to cover the following topics:

 

Problem Finding

To guide teams as they develop a customer value proposition for their venture, following the precepts of Design Thinking, we employ a two-step process that first asks teams to identify target customers and their unmet needs (“problem finding”), then to specify a product that meets those needs (“solution finding”). We will build customer research skills, for example, showing how to: 1) avoid bias when selecting research subjects and posing questions to them; and 2) develop personas and use them to focus the design process.

 

Solution Finding

Building on insights about unmet customer needs gleaned through customer discovery work, we will: 1) employ ideation methods to rapidly generate multiple solution candidates; 2) develop prototypes and get feedback on them through user testing; and 3) follow UX design principles to refine solutions.

 

Business Model Design and Validation

We will review principles of business model design; ask teams to generate hypotheses about their business models; then specify Minimum Viable Product (MVP) tests of these hypotheses, following the Lean Startup approach.

 

Marketing & Sales

Before attempting to scale aggressively, early-stage startups should experiment with a range of sales and marketing channels to determine which will be most productive. We will explore conditions favoring the use of different sales and marketing methods; learn how to design marketing experiments; and, since founders tend to be directly responsible for sales in seed-stage firms, get some practice with personal selling.

 

Seed Finance

We will: 1) explore the motivations of different types of seed stage investors and how they evaluate opportunities; 2) learn how convertible notes work and why entrepreneurs and investors often prefer them; and 3) discuss how to assemble an effective pitch deck and practice delivering one.

 

Founders' Issues 

We will consider the pros and cons of working with cofounders and criteria for choosing them; review founders’ agreements and approaches for splitting founders’ equity; and discuss how to find early employees and, through “try-outs,” assess their performance potential. We also will discuss how to know whether you are ready to be a founder and how to manage the intense psychological pressures of startup life.

 

Pitch Day 

Teams will pitch their venture concepts to peers, instructors, and seasoned entrepreneurs and investors.