Intro to Customer Discovery Online

This online workshop will help you explore the commercial viability of your deep tech innovation idea/IP. We teach the Lean LaunchPad approach (also called Lean Startup), a process to help you systematically test key assumptions about your technology and the customer problems it might be able to solve better than current alternatives. This assessment of “technology-problem fit” is the critical first step toward commercial success for any technology venture. The learning objectives are:

  • Develop familiarity with Lean LaunchPad concepts and tools such as customer discovery, value proposition design, and business model canvas
  • Understand customers’ problems (“pain points”) from THEIR perspective
  • Map your customer ecosystem to understand customer roles, requirements and decision processes
  • Identify modifications to your technology assumptions required to achieve product-market fit
  • Build connections to the commercial ecosystem (i.e. customers, suppliers, funders) for your innovation
  • Explore the size of your potential market, assess the competition, and identify a first target market
  • Develop a commercialization roadmap identifying key milestones and required resources to move your idea forward

This course is for researchers and students with deep tech IP and a strong interest in commercializing their technology.

Course Benefits

  • Gain valuable market insight to inform the next steps in your research and/or development
  • Become eligible for the NSF I-Corps National Teams program and $50,000 grant for qualifying technologies and teams
  • Get prepared for application to SBIR/STTR or other commercialization grants
  • Receive up to $500 in funding for customer discovery-related expenses including but not limited to virtual conference fees and premium LinkedIn accounts (NSF qualifying teams only)
  • Develop network connections and receive mentoring from experienced industry experts and entrepreneurs
  • Develop the entrepreneurial mindset and toolset needed for a career in academia, industry, startups, or government


Date and Time Session Topic
Fri, Sept 25
12:00-1:30PM ET
(11:00AM-12:30PM CT)
Orientation and Lean LaunchPad Intro
Fri, Oct 2
12:00-2:00PM ET
(11:00AM-1:00PM CT)
Product-Market Fit
Fri, Oct 16
12:00-2:00PM ET
(11:00AM-1:00PM CT)
Customer Discovery
Fri, Oct 30
12:00-2:00PM ET
(11:00AM-1:00PM CT)
Market Assessment
Fri, Nov 13
12:00-2:00PM ET
(11:00AM-1:00PM CT)
Commercialization Pathway

In between the five webinars, you will conduct customer discovery interviews, complete online learning assignments, apply the tools to your own tech, and receive feedback and coaching from a team of experienced instructors/mentors.

This hands-on program takes work – 6-8 hours/week throughout the course. In addition to the course deliverables, you are expected to “get out of the building” (virtually or physically, if safe) to interview and observe customers and stakeholders. Direct market interaction is vital to fine-tuning your value proposition, commercialization pathway, and business model design assumptions.

Sept 18, 2020