Overview

Innov8 is an 8-week program designed to help emerging entrepreneurs develop their business concepts, hone business strategies, and build a business plan with actionable steps. This program provides entrepreneurial training to University students, faculty, staff and alumni interested in developing or commercializing any type of business idea.

The program teaches the essentials of the Business Model Canvas and how to complete effective customer discovery, as well as considerations around launching an enterprise.

Expectations

Participants in the Innov8 program will be expected to commit at least 3-5 hours per person per week to market research, customer discovery and other commercialization-focused activities.

By the end of the program, your team can expect to accomplish the following:

  • Learn about the size of your market and key market trends
  • Interview potential customers or end users
  • Complete a standard business model canvas
  • Hone presentation skills
  • Learn about potential sources of early-stage funding
  • Decide whether or not to pursue your idea

Accepted teams must commit to attending five synchronous training sessions, customer discovery interviews, two progress presentations, and the final presentation day where participants will show how their business ideas have developed over the course of the semester.

For specific dates and times, please consult the program schedule.

Instructors/Training Sessions

Teams will be required to attend real-time training sessions on entrepreneurship led by Ain Center instructors.

Eligibility

All current University of Rochester undergraduate and graduate students, doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, recent alumni, staff, and faculty are eligible to apply as a Team Leader. UR faculty members may also serve as advisors. No prior business education is required. Proposed business ventures should be in either the idea, development, or startup stages.

Accepted teams must commit to attending five synchronous training sessions, customer discovery interviews, two progress presentations, and the final presentation day, where participants will show how their business ideas have developed over the course of the semester.

Failure to complete these elements of the program may be grounds for disqualification from the Innov8 program.

Application Process

All application materials must be submitted online by the deadline indicated.

Students may only apply ONCE per Cohort. Students may only participate on ONE team per Cohort.

OPTIONAL: Applicants may find a University of Rochester faculty member to serve as an advisor for the technical or business aspects of the team’s idea.

Applicants must submit the following in order to be considered:

  • Completed online application
    • Including Team Leader signature
  • Resume of Team Leader
    • Other team members’ resumes (optional)
    • Name and contact information for faculty advisor (optional)
  • 1–2 page Executive Summary
    • Industry
    • One Line Pitch
    • Problem
    • Your Idea / Solution
    • Potential Target Markets
    • Potential Marketing & Sales Strategy
    • Potential Business Model
    • Known Competitors to Date
    • Competitive Advantage

Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with Program Manager Heidi Mergenthaler prior to submitting an application.

Selection Criteria

When completing the application materials, please keep the following criteria in mind:

  1. Team and Commitment – The Innov8 program seeks participants with an interest in entrepreneurship, enterprise creation, and commercialization for those with technical ideas. This includes a willingness to talk to potential customers about your concept, and develop hypotheses on how your concept might be developed into a sustainable venture. Experience is a plus, but not a requirement.
  2. Concept Strength – Innov8 deals mainly with early stage ventures in need of guidance and idea validation. The Selection Committee will look at the concept’s plausibility, probability of success, versatility, and marketplace fit.
  3. Sustainability – The committee is looking for ideas that are sustainable and potentially scalable.  Strong applicants will have a baseline awareness about what their idea will look like, who will buy it, and who their competition is.
  4. Fit with Innov8 Program – The first and most important goal of Innov8 is to encourage entrepreneurship and to provide a framework for participants to launch a venture. Teams will gain skills to develop their startup idea. Applicants should have clearly defined goals and expectations for how the program can help them take the next step. Graduates of the program will have an improved understanding of the entrepreneurial mindset.

Schedule of Events

Week 1
Session 1: An Introduction, and the Business Model Canvas

Week 2
Session 2: Customer Discovery, Hypotheses and Interview

Week 3
Session 3: Team Building Module & Progress Report

Week 4
Session 4: Pitching Module & Progress Reports

Week 5
Session 5: Startup Financial and Legal Panel & Progress Reports

Week 6
Conduct Customer Discovery Interviews and Team Work – No meeting

Week 7
Conduct Customer Discovery Interviews and Team Work – No meeting

Week 8
Session 6: Final Pitch Presentations, Lessons Learned & Next Steps

Deadline

Innov8 Events

Questions?

Contact Heidi Mergenthaler, Program Manager.