PantherlabWorks, the commercialization center of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE) at the University of Pittsburgh, assists startups and business owners in the Pittsburgh region by providing product development-based consulting, educational workshops, and networking opportunities.
The Concept to Commercialization program engages economic development partners, the AIM Higher Consortium members, and local investors, board representatives, sponsors with entrepreneurial companies in experiential learning opportunities helping to advance innovations along the commercialization path while providing real opportunities to accelerate growth. Concept to Commercialization utilizes a team approach where “Enterprise Teams” (early- to growth-stage companies) participate in a customer discovery experience learning how to engage at a deeper level with existing customers and gain first-hand profound insights, as well as identify and learn about new customer segments. Through customer discovery, the Enterprise Teams will have an opportunity to validate, strengthen or challenge their existing business models through direct market input. It’s all about “getting out of the building” to learn by talking to industry leaders, customers, partners, competitors and fellow entrepreneurs. Concept to Commercialization is not about lectures, it is about speaking with people in the marketplace. As a Concept to Commercialization participant, you will spend time refining and testing your business hypotheses about your innovation, its value proposition, who the customers are, and how the innovation will reach these individuals. You will be introduced to the several tools and resources to build each element required for an innovation to grow in the market and report back to the teaching team through brief presentations during class time and communication during office hours. The program also includes elements to help businesses who are specifically seeking to create products for the Department of Defense (e.g. TRLs, MRLs, SBIR/STTR, lean product development).
Teaching Team: The Teaching Team consists of members of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence. This program is modeled after the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute’s First Gear program (and Fourth Gear program) which has been delivered the Gear program to more than 200 Pitt teams and 350 participants. The teaching team members each have over 30 years of experience across multiple industries and have helped launch and grow numerous new products and early stage companies. Additional invited guests such as AIM Higher Consortium members, mentors from the southwestern Pennsylvania business community/entrepreneurial ecosystem and invited matched mentors will play a role on the teaching team.
Enterprise Teams: Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Program participants will work in teams to determine how to accelerate the growth of their innovations as a product, service, or process that addresses a market need in a way customers’ desire. All members of the Enterprise Team will participate in out-of-the-building customer discovery activities. Each week will be a new adventure as teams create business hypotheses, run experiments to test them, and validate the items in their business model canvas. Enterprise Teams will see how customer discovery can help rapidly iterate a product to build something potential customers will value, buy, and use.
The members of each team must commit to attending the virtual workshops and final presentation, plus dedicate the time needed for customer discovery, recommended readings and watching flipped classroom video lectures prior to the related workshop. Each Team member should expect to commit 8 – 10 hours per week completing course learning and customer discovery. This includes consistent documentation of learning and progress.
Each Enterprise Team will consist of a:
If you cannot identify an outside business mentor, the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute will assist to recruit an experienced individual.
Online “Flipped Classroom” Lectures Prior to each of the weekly workshops, teams will view online lessons via www.udacity.com from the class “How to Build a Startup,” instructed by Steve Blank. During this period, each team will “get out of the building” and test its business model assumptions, meeting with potential customers/stakeholders each week. Teams will record their customer validation progress and update their class presentation for each workshop reflecting the customer lessons learned.
Who are you, who are we, and what will we be doing?
|• Program overview|
• Team introductions
• Intro to Business Model Canvas
Who are your stakeholders, customers, and your market?
|• Customer discovery|
• Customer segmentation (intro)
• Markets (intro)
How do you create value for your customers (i.e. what is the problem you are solving and what is your solution)?
|• Value proposition|
Who is your competition and how do you compete?
|• Competitive landscape|
What is your market and how do you reach it?
|• Market analysis: primary and secondary|
• Business models
• Customer personas
What is required to propel your success in the market?
|• Critical activities and resources|
• Gap assessment
How do you sell your solution? How do you fund it?
• Revenue models
How do you make your solution?
• Lean product development
How do you pitch your solution?
|• Art of the pitch|
|• Mini-investor pitch|
The following texts are optional, but will guide you through the process in very detailed terms improving your experience:
The Concept to Commercialization program is organized around a series of workshops designed to accelerate commercialization and company growth. In so doing, the Enterprise Team interacts regularly with potential customers, partners, and competitors as a way to apply workshop learnings and validate business hypotheses. The program provides each Enterprise Team with a novel experiential learning opportunity to determine the commercial readiness of their technology, developing clear go/no go decision points regarding product enhancements, entering or exiting customer segments and creating a refreshed pitch deck.
In-class workshops consist of the following elements:
Classwork outside of the regularly scheduled workshops includes:
Investor Pitch Deck:
The culmination of all workshops/office hours is the final workshop where each Enterprise Team presents a “mini” investor pitch to the members of the BlueTree Screening Committee or other regional investors. This presentation should not include any proprietary technical information. Rather, the presentation will focus on the team’s business model and learnings from its customer discovery process. This short slide deck should convey items such as unique value of the innovation, market potential, customer pain points, competitive landscape, business model and any revisions to path to market. Include what your needs are so that those hearing your pitch might open doors for you, if you tell a compelling story.
For additional information and questions, please contact:
Jessica Sinclair, PantherlabWorks Director
Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, University of Pittsburgh