The ICAP/I-Corps Introductory Course helps inventors and entrepreneurs take the right first steps in bringing new technologies and innovations to market. This course is conducted in partnership with Mason’s NSF I-Corps Program and is open to all Virginia-based technology and innovation-driven applicants. Eligible university-based teams will be able to pursue NSF National I-Corps following successful completion of this course. 

ICAP includes FREE training programs and advising services offered to entrepreneurs and startups across the Commonwealth. This course helps entrepreneurs and innovators identify potential customers and develop successful business models. It is an ideal program for early-stage startups trying to prepare for eventual venture investment.

What to Expect:

The course is a 2.5-week intensive startup assistance program targeting early-stage, innovative high-growth potential startups. Using Lean Startup as its principal methodology, entrepreneurs learn how to identify their initial customer segment, validate their ideas, and develop business models that investors would more likely fund. With mentoring and expert guidance, teams create a roadmap to early success in order to increase their potential to attract investment opportunities for funding and growth. Your ICAP Mentor works with you and your team one-on-one for customized support for the duration of the course and beyond.

This course teaches the key concepts of Customer Discovery during five (3-hour) sessions. In addition to the five sessions, there is extensive work done “outside the building”. Participants should expect to spend another 10 to 15, or more, hours per week conducting customer discovery interviews and on course assignments. Each participating team is required to complete a minimum of 20 customer discovery interviews over the duration of the introductory course. At the conclusion of the program, the participants remain connected to their ICAP Mentors for follow-on advising and support.

Important Dates

May 2024 Virtual Cohort 

April 1, 2024 – Applications are Due by Midnight

April 29, 2024 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm – Introductory Webinar

May 13, 2024 – 9:00am – 12:00pm – Conducting an Interview and Customer Segmentation

May 14, 2024 – 9:00am – 12:00pm  – Ecosystem Assessment and Value Proposition

May 15, 2024 – 9:00am – 12:00pm – Hypothesis Generation and Testing

May 22, 2024 – 9:00am – 12:00pm  The Virtuous Rachet for Testing Hypotheses

May 29, 2024 – 9:00am – 12:00pm – Presentations by VIPC, Final Team Presentations, and Next Steps. 

During this introductory program, there is extensive work done outside the virtual classroom. At the conclusion of the program, you will remain connected with your ICAP Mentor to continue your progress over the following 6 to 36 months – however long it takes and you continue to put in the effort.

The introductory program is designed to generate a maximum impact over a relatively short duration and should be considered a required first step for anyone interested in commercializing a technology or product, whether through a startup or licensing arrangement.  This program can help teams develop better submissions for SBIR grants from US federal agencies and CCF grants from VIPC (Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation).

For more information email: icap@virginiasbdc.org

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