How it works
NSF I-Corps Regional Courses are for university researchers in STEM fields, student entrepreneurs, and early-stage startup founders who are interested in exploring the market potential of a deep technology innovation they’ve been working on, and learning entrepreneurial skills.
Participants learn how to “get out of the lab” and talk to potential customers. The goal is to determine if they are solving a real-world problem with a sizeable market opportunity. In addition to providing entrepreneurial training, this program helps researchers identify new ways to apply their current or future research to solve real-life challenges.
The course is 3.5 weeks long and includes a set of self-directed online learning activities, six class meetings (1-2 hours long), and two 1:1 instructor check ins (15-20 minutes), all conducted on Zoom. Teams of 1-3 people can apply. Eight to ten teams will be selected per class. Each team is expected to conduct 30 customer discovery interviews.
During the first week, teams learn how to:
- Identify their top customer segments
- Develop hypotheses about the value proposition they offer each customer segment
- Find and effectively interview potential customers about their problems/needs
Over the subsequent two and a half weeks, teams conduct 30 customer discovery interviews by video or phone conference, and join two check in calls with instructors to share progress and receive coaching.
In the final class, teams present their findings, receive more coaching, learn about other local entrepreneurship programs, and receive more information about applying for the national I-Corps Teams program, and SBIR/STTR grants.