ENTREPRENEURSHIP STARTS HERE
You don’t have to be a seasoned entrepreneur to engage with I-Corps: all it takes is an idea. Beginning a commercial endeavor may seem daunting, but I-Corps gives you the tools to translate ideas into impact, teaching you the skills you need to find—and then reach—the right customers with a technology they truly want. Developed to complement the NSF Great Lakes Regional I-Corps hub, the local I-Corps program here at UW–Madison is up and running to help your team develop the skillset and eligibility for success in the National NSF I-Corps program.
Research suggests the number one reason startups fail is because they create a product no one wants. I-Corps helps you circumvent this issue. Through this program, you will be able to gain valuable insight into your target market while learning how to augment your technology to meet customer needs, networking with experienced industrial mentors, and developing a strong foundation—while also establishing credibility—for future funding opportunities. Further, completing these programs is the easiest way to gain the know-how needed to compete for the $50,000 I-Corps Team award, which helps cover expenses related to exploring and understanding your market.
By starting your entrepreneurial journey with I-Corps, you will be able to make improvements to your research-inspired innovation alongside the customers who want it. We call this agile learning. Refining your technology with the end-user in mind helps develop a better and more successful product.
The I-Corps Program uses Customer Discovery Interviews to gain valuable information about the people who will use your technology. Through exploration, curiosity, and real conversations, these interviews will give you fresh, useful insight into your market.
Using the Lean Startup Method, a strategy created by experienced entrepreneurs, you will be able to develop a customer-oriented perspective to avoid common mistakes made by researchers in early-stage entrepreneurial ventures. This technique helps refocus your perspective, using thorough research to inform your decision-making.
THE AVENUES TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The National I-Corps Program is designed to help you establish a strong entrepreneurial framework: first, through the initial application and selection process, then, through the Team Award which grants $50,000 over six months. To become eligible, participants either need to have received NSF funding within the last five years or participate in a local or regional I-Corps program. UW’s local I-Corps program is a great place to begin exploring entrepreneurship: the earlier you engage, the stronger your application will be when you’re ready to compete for the national team award.
Want to get involved? To participate in I-Corps:
YOU DON’T NEED: experience in entrepreneurship, established investors, previous NSF funding, third-party verification, or a fully developed prototype.
YOU DO NEED: an idea for a potentially marketable technology, an open mind, a readiness to learn, and, eventually, a team comprised of a technological lead, an entrepreneurial lead, and a mentor (Need help with this? Reach out to Bonnie!)