On May 10th in Sacramento, CA, Entrepreneurs pitched their new Startups to an audience of investors and founders. 32 students enrolled in an 8-week boot camp designed for new Entrepreneurs. Students learned to identify customer problems, customer types, viable solutions, and how to begin growing their customer bases before launching a new business.
Some Entrepreneurs came to the camp with a business idea already, but some did not. Entrepreneurs like Drew Black and David Ortega came to the boot camp looking for inspiration. Their startup? A microwave-sized box that would cool food items in the amount of time it takes to zap a hot dog. “It’s like a microwave, but instead of heating food, the device cools it quickly,” said Black. Both Drew and David are engineering students at Sacramento State. “We were just throwing ideas around, and were thinking of problems we had,” said Ortega. “I had bought a case of soda and it was warm. I wanted a cold [soda] and joked around that we should have a quick-cool device. Drew’s whole face changed, and he got all serious. We should do that, he said. So we went with it.” The result? A new startup, based on physics and a device called Chill Bill.
Dan Casas-Murray is the lead instructor and curriculum designer for the boot camp. “Some folks come in with ideas, and some don’t,” he said. “But that’s not an issue at all. We teach a business design process so you can start a business around anything. The word ‘startup’ doesn’t have to mean tech.” Casas-Murray also said that “ideas are pretty easy to generate. What’s hard is the execution.” Casas-Murray says that anyone can start a business and be successful at it – if they do their homework first.
Students enrol and complete a series of four workshops along with homework. For the class, homework means conducting interviews with customers, creating landing pages and very basic prototyping. To “graduate,” the new Entrepreneurs create slide decks and pitch their ideas to an audience at the end of the course.
About The Lean Innovator
New Entrepreneurs usually wonder about protecting intellectual property, forming a business, getting the business licensed, etc. The good news is that there is a lot of information available for these known questions and that it’s easy to learn about. What doesn’t come up oftentimes is the ‘make or break’ questions, like "Where are my customers? Who are they? Do I have proof that they’ll buy?"
Our goal is to bring together what we’ve learned and put it one place so we can host a community of empowered entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is definitely a solo undertaking, but it doesn’t have to happen without support.