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