Summer Catalyst: Week 2
During the second week of Summer Catalyst, teams participated in a variety of activities including Team Updates, Hot Seat, Lean Canvas Coaching, and Lunch & Learns. The teams refined their milestones, learned from experts, practiced giving and receiving feedback, and developed new customer discovery strategies.
Let’s delve into the details:
Today, Summer Catalyst participants engaged in their first Team Updates session. Every Monday, a member of each team will present three key points: their accomplishments from last week, their goals for next week, and an “ask.” These updates provide an opportunity for teams to share their progress and request help. Furthermore, this exercise creates a sense of accountability to help entrepreneurs stay on track with their ventures.
Teams have been actively working on a variety of tasks such as meeting with their mentors and advisors, setting new goals, working toward the launch stage, developing new product lines, and building relationships with partners and customers.
Afterwards, the teams entered another round of Hot Seat. Prabaarja Bedi MBA‘20 presented her pitch for UNfabricated, a venture that produces unique and environmentally sustainable products with a social impact. She received valuable feedback both during the presentation and shortly after through a rebuild session with her fellow entrepreneurs.
Last week, ventures worked on their Lean Canvas Business Models. On Tuesday, each team met with their mentors to review these models, set milestones, and create actionable plans to achieve their goals.
Today, Alex Fantappie ’22 was in the “Hot Seat” to present Avanti, a venture that connects high schoolers with jobs. After the rebuild session, teams participated in a coffee meet up with Summer Catalyst Director Bob Stringer. These coffee meet ups provide a unique opportunity to connect and build community during this virtual era.
During in person accelerators, entrepreneurs usually have the opportunity to stick around after a session and spark up a conversation. They also grab lunch or coffee and connect with one another in their spare time. Networking opportunities are much more accessible in an in person setting. With a virtual accelerator, finding ways to connect requires a bit more creativity and effort. Luckily, with a group of ambitious and innovative minds, a solution isn’t too far out of reach.
In addition to the coffee meetups, the Blank Center team and Summer Catalyst participants have been actively searching for ways to engage with one another, forge relationships, and create a sense of community. Some endeavors include: connecting on slack channels, actively participating during live sessions, reaching out to fellow participants to answer an “ask,” and arranging one-on-one meetings to connect virtually. Community is an essential part of the Summer Catalyst experience, and these creative activities have made it possible for participants to bond and learn from each other despite the physical distance.
On day four, participants learned about customer discovery strategies during an informative Lunch & Learn with Summer Catalyst Advisor Eric Braun. Although the process may seem simple, it is important not to overlook. Customer discovery involves formulating hypotheses, testing them with potential customers, learning from the feedback, and iterating. Entrepreneurs should focus on understanding the customer problems, pain points, and needs before demonstrating a product or attempting to sell. Understanding the pain points through customer discovery can help ventures develop solutions that address an evident need. In particular, Eric recommended five areas to focus on for customer interviews: a simple idea, market segmentation, a value proposition, competition, and pricing.
What’s in store for next week?
Summer Catalyst ventures will engage in Team Updates, Hot Seat sessions, and a Lunch & Learn with Beth Goldstein on customer discovery. They will also have the opportunity to learn from various entrepreneurial experts during office hours with Mark Gambale, Derek Schoettle, and Katie Bickford.