REGIONAL I-CORPS PROGRAMS
I-Corps is based on the Lean Startup methodology developed by Steve Blank and uses the Business Model Canvas popularized by Alex Osterwalder at Strategyzer. Teams pick-up tools for creating a business thesis and hypotheses about a business model. These hypotheses are then tested in a specific market segment by conducting customer discovery interviews.
Regional I-Corps Cohort
Based on the National I-Corps Teams program and curriculum, our Regional I-Corps Cohorts are open to university researchers and community teams building technology startups. In true I-Corps form, our regional cohorts combine instructor lectures with out of class learning. Teams will discover a business model by getting "out of the lab" and into the world to interview people. These short-form three-to-four-week programs teach evidence-based entrepreneurship principles and provide accountability to teams that need to know their customers and target markets intimately. Teams that excel may become eligible to apply to the National I-Corps Teams program that comes with a $50,000 award to conduct customer discovery interviews.
What to Expect
I-Corps South offers an average of four Regional Cohorts a year. We deploy a number of different types of Regional Cohort programs. Our regional curriculum is typically a four-week program for teams of 2-4 members interested in commercializing their research. Teams may consist of an entrepreneurial lead, a technical lead, and an industry mentor. If you are interested in participating as a team, you must apply and be accepted in order to participate in the Regional Cohort. The programs typically consists of a 1-day kickoff workshop, 20 Customer Discovery interviews, and a 1-day closing workshop.
Participants need to commit at least 20 hours of time in addition to the opening and closing workshops for this program to be successful.
The NSF I-Corps Teams program has been a real-world, hands-on, immersive learning experience in how to transform innovations into successful products and services. It has been an excellent experience for me as a mentor to help my team get through the demanding “get out of the building” and undergo customer discovery to test their technology concept’s hypothesized product-market fit and commercial viability. I-Corp has been great for me because it has allowed me to look at innovation and technology from the perspective of the market. And it has been my pleasure to help my team to translate their technology through customer discovery into what the market wants as supposed to building on biases and assumptions.
Nakia Melecio, Startup Catalyst, ATDC
NSF I-Corps Teams Mentor Participant
Our Regional Cohorts offer access to the I-Corps program methodology for technology entrepreneurs in the southeast. These programs qualify you to apply for the NSF I-Corps Teams program, something typically reserved for startups leveraging National Science Foundation funded research. Whether you’re a researcher without NSF funding lineage, or a community technology entrepreneur, I-Corps South Regional Cohorts offer a unique opportunity to advance your startup, qualify for grant funding, and get your solution closer to market.
Why do you want to qualify for the NSF I-Corps Teams program? The NSF I-Corps Teams program offers a $50,000 grant to cover travel costs as you travel to your potential customers and learn more about them. Those who excel in the I-Corps program have noticed an appreciable increase in their NSF SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) application success rate.
These programs are designed to introduce you to the concepts of evidence-based entrepreneurship, including customer development methodology, and teach you to gather customer insights that allow you to build a tested business model. In addition, our experienced faculty provide accountability and support in your startup pursuits.
Join us to launch your technology startup journey! If you're interested, reach out to us and we'll talk to you about the best upcoming program for your team.
The opportunity to learn early on about your customers and what drives their own customers is imperative to success and getting a good foot on the ground to explore and expand business operations to align for future success.