LAUNCH is an 8 Week Pre-Accelerator program designed for people who need guidance with their business idea
Launch Your Business
LAUNCH is an 8 session series that teaches new and aspiring entrepreneurs the fundamentals of building a business. This fast-paced program enables entrepreneurs to work with experts who provide the tools, resources and knowledge to take an idea and make it a business.
In 2022, Innovation Studio will be expanding its LAUNCH! Program offering a cohort for Greater Roxbury, and launching two cohorts in Rhode Island, including one specifically for Spanish speaking founders.
Launch Series Overview
Are you solving a problem that people care about? How do you identify problems worth solving? How do you determine if you are building a business that earns money or one that should be relegated to hobby status?
This workshop will explore the fundamentals of evaluating an idea to determine if you can build a viable business from the problem you are trying to solve. You will be introduced to several tools to help you “get out of your head” and build a product or service that customers will pay for.
- How to identify problems that a business can solve.
- How to test and validate that a problem has a viable business solution.
- How to test and validate your solution hypothesis.
- How to design a business model and test its components.
Vinay Ganti is an experienced leader of teams at the intersection of technology, business operations, and strategy. He has worked in a variety of industries, including education, social entrepreneurship, and agriculture. Specialties: Early-stage/growth stage company advisory, online education, education technology, content strategy. He has a JD/MBA from New York University.
Once you have early validation that your idea may have viability, how do you define your target market and target audiences? How do you decide which features your product/service should have? How do you prioritize the features of your product/service?
This workshop will help you research and define your target audience and create a basic user persona. You will be introduced to techniques to turn your customers’ observations into product features and how to prioritize the features for development.
- How to research and define a target market.
- How to create a user persona.
- How to develop a product feature set.
- How to test product features.
- How to prioritize product features.
Having early and initial insight from potential customers is not enough to build and launch a successful business. Oftentimes, the “shiny new ideas” begin to distort insights collected from potential users. To avoid this common pitfall, you will need a disciplined approach to achieving product-market fit from idea to launch. You will then need to build the audience for your product or service, with little to no budget. How will you do that?
This workshop will help you understand the tools and techniques to engage your customers and continually validate your product/service evolution across its life-cycle. You will also learn how to grow your customer-base in quick, lean, and cost-effective ways
- What is customer development and how it is used
- What are the types of prototypes used across the product/ service life-cycle
- What is growth hacking and what is the AAARRR framework
- How to design and run basic experiments to convert prospective customers into paid customers
James Kwon is the Founder & CEO, Lead Strategy & UI/UX at Figmints Digital Creative Marketing. Through his work in branding & identity design, marketing strategy development, UI/UX implementation, and video production, he hopes to infinitely expand understanding of creative territory and transcend the boundaries of the normative world of design.
Consumers have many companies, organizations and institutions vying for their attention through brand marketing and product messaging. A strong brand is not only important to create a relationship with your customers but it’s important for attracting all your important stakeholders (team members, board members, investors, volunteers, etc.). How will you establish a unique place in the consumers’ mind and consistently break through the noise that your target audience is bombarded with every day? Once your brand has been created, how will you reach your target audience and where will you promote your product to reach them?
This workshop will introduce you to the fundamentals of creating your brand identity and the basics of your go-to-marketing strategy.
- What are the key elements of branding?
- What tools and resources are available to help build your brand?
- How best to use brand assets to build and scale your businesses.
- What is a beachhead strategy?
- How to design your channel strategy.
- How to design a promotional strategy.
Mark Dockser is a senior marketing and business leader formerly with Luminopia, Coravin, Keurig, and iRobot. He is a seasoned CEO/President/COO, Entrepreneur, Teacher, Mentor and Board Member with expertise in starting up new consumer and industrial goods companies, developing and launching new consumer tech concepts and products in unstructured, high growth, investor-backed environments from inception to $50M. He loves working with disruptive companies, ideas and people!
How do you turn a product with traction into a company? When should you form a company? Which company structure is right for your business? How do you form a team when you are one motivated person working from your kitchen table?
This workshop will help you make critical decisions about selecting a company structure and building an early team that aligns with your mission and values.
- What are the different company structures an entrepreneur has to choose from?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different corporate structures?
- How to define your mission, vision, and values.
- How to leverage your purpose as a competitive advantage.
Jessica Manganello is a business attorney and Founder of New Leaf Legal, a flat fee firm that provides corporate and IP services to emerging and small businesses and artists. Her expertise is comprised of everything from designing corporate structuring to expansion and growth to developing an exit strategy. New Leaf Legal, a flat fee firm, provides corporate and IP services to emerging and small businesses and artists. Her passion lies in everything from helping businesses design their initial corporate structuring, through their expansion and growing pains, all the way to developing their exit strategies. Her work involves contract drafting of all kinds, with a focus on intellectual property and licensing. Her firm particularly enjoys working with socially/sustainably minded businesses using experimental new models and cementing new core values into the old tried and true models.
In order to launch and run your business successfully, you will need a good financial plan. How much funding will you need to launch and run the day-to-day operation? How many customers will you need to break-even, at what price point (s) and over what time horizon?
This workshop will introduce you to the fundamentals of creating a practical financial model and basic forecasts for your business.
- How to build a financial model?
- How to use financial modeling to help you make decisions for your business?
- How to use a financial model to determine how much funding will you need to launch, scale?
- How to calculate your true costs to build, scale launch hire?
Scott A. McKenzie brings over 18 years of experience of working closely with venture-backed, emerging growth and sophisticated public and privately held companies in the software, life sciences, clean-tech, manufacturing and distribution industries. He provides tremendous value to these companies not only in the areas of audit, attestation, and tax but also operational guidance. Scott also works with entrepreneurs on forecast preparation, fundraising support, as an outsourced CFO and a general advisor. Scott currently at Partner with Silverman, Avila, & Gershaw, CPA’s.
Starting a business from the ground up is one of the toughest challenges one can take on. One major hurdle is designing a financial plan to produce and launch your product/service into the market. There are a variety of funding mechanisms for startups but not all are well suited for every business. Which funding model is best suited for your venture?
This workshop will introduce you to different funding options for startups and how to decide the model best suited for your business.
- What are the funding options for starting a company? (e.g. bootstrapping, grants, angel funding, loans, venture funding, etc).
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of funding options?
- How to choose the best option for your business type and growth stage?
Jesse Bardo is a vice president in Early Stage Practice for SVB in Boston, where he helps Boston’s early-stage founders build amazing businesses in one of the world’s best innovation ecosystem. To this end, he connects entrepreneurs with Boston’s accelerators, universities, and partners, as well as internal SVB staff, to help his clients scale. Every day, Jesse sits at the intersection between founders, who are dedicated to what they are building, and the bank’s global network and from this vantage point he gets to help companies and individuals grow.
What are you working on? It’s a common question heard at Venture Café and in many startup circles. If you are able to answer that question appropriately, it could lead to cofounders, team members, and partners, funders and lots of customers. Can you convey the essence of your business’ unique value without eyes glossing over? This workshop will teach you how to effectively explain what you do to key stakeholders.
- How to build a narrative about your business?
- How to effectively share a story about your company?
- What are the types of pitches you will need to give?
- How to present an effective pitch?
Applications Open: January 3, 2022
Applications Close: January 21, 2022
Program Start: February 3, 2022
Pitch Night Event: February 15
To be considered for LAUNCH!, review the following criteria and submit a completed application.
- LAUNCH! is for idea stage entrepreneurs who are in the very beginning stages of their small business or startup journey.
- To be considered for the program, applications must be completed in full.
- Program participants must commit to attending all workshops via zoom or in person.
- Participants must commit to completing all homework and assignments.
- Participants are expected to be professional and present during this program, which means being on time, on camera, prepared and engaged.
The program is limited to 25 applicants. If accepted, participants are required to attend all 8 sessions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any business with a growth mindset in the ideation or pre-revenue stage. Existing businesses with under $100,000 in total revenue are also welcome to apply.
No, the LAUNCH! Program is free to apply and attend thanks to our generous sponsors.
LAUNCH! is an eight session cohort-based program. Please check back for the next program start date.
Yes, registration for LAUNCH! requires a commitment to all 8 sessions.
To ensure the safety of our participants and in accordance with ongoing precautions surrounding COVID-19, all sessions will be held virtually, via Zoom.
Each session will include curated content for online delivery taught by industry professionals.
We will select up to 25 participants for each cohort.
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