The prestigious National Science Foundation Innovation Corps award enables graduate students, professors, and seasoned entrepreneurs/business professionals to come together for 7 weeks and explore a business curriculum with the primary goal of fostering entrepreneurship. Based on the Steve Blank’s The Startup Owner’s Manual and the Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in Business Model Generation, the curriculum just doesn’t nudge scientists but forces them out of their comfy laboratories into customer interviews. The reiterative process builds hypothesis that are re-tested by talking to potential customers – this is known as customer discovery and customer validation.
A team composed of Brian Schultz (entrepreneurial lead), Sarbajit Banerjee (principle investigator), and Martin Casstevens (business mentor) completed the rigorous course with more than 106 in-person customer interviews including several Fortune 500 companies. The course gave Dimien a new perspective on its customer clientele enabling our team to more directly address the needs of consumers.