On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, we celebrated the graduation of 11 startup teams from Flight IV of the Tulsa Community College Launch Startup program. Launch is designed to coach aspiring entrepreneurs with any type of business idea through the universal steps of designing a viable business model and going to market within a 16-week time frame.

How it works

Twenty-eight business model design and startup coaches facilitated twelve startup teams towards taking their business to market during the 16-week program. Orchestration of entrepreneurs was directed by Launch Flight IV Captain, Kristen Bergman, along with a collection of StartUp Cup coaches, including Ted Cundiff, Darren Fuqua, Sean Griffin, Bill Handy, and Paul Rossler.

Over 36 applications were submitted for consideration to join the Launch program, with a maximum of 18 startup team slots to fill. Consistent with past flights, 3 – 5 coaches from Flight IV interviewed each entrepreneurial team for 15 minutes to determine those that would be asked to join the program.

Our main goal is always to identify entrepreneurs that are committed to starting a company, not just developing a hobby, are coachable, have the ability to secure minimum resources to start a company, and showcase an ability to collect and develop a team.

Visually Thinking Your Way to a Better StartUp

After the interviewing process we invited twelve startup teams that showed the greatest potential of building a viable company to join Launch Flight IV. We then immediately started training these teams on the how to think visually and, as a first step, verified the connection of their passion with their business idea.

All entrepreneurial teams selected to participate in the Launch program are experientially coached through the Business Model Scorecard, a self-guided visual thinking tool designed to facilitate people new to the business design and building process through the universal steps of starting a company.

Coaching Structure

Startup teams were coached through weekly business design and building sessions following the structure found below:

Pre-Coaching: 5:00pm – 6:00pm

Subject Presentation: 6:00pm – 6:15pm

Tailored Coaching and Mentoring: 6:15 – 8:30pm

Anything Goes Q&A: 8:30pm – 9:00pm

Startup team coaching sessions utilized visual thinking tools as a way to accelerate the startup process. Examples include:

  • Building Your Team and Advisory Board
  • Designing Your Business Model
  • Understanding Your Market Through Research
  • Building Your Revenue Model
  • Marketing, Branding, Strategic Communications
  • Intellectual Property
  • Pitching Your Business
  • Bootstrapping, Funding, and Cash Flow

Outcomes:

  • 11 Startup teams “graduated” from the Launch Startup Program
  • Six companies have launched and are actively marketing their product/service and generating revenue
  • Two companies have self-funded their first prototype product/service and are outreaching for additional funding
  • Three companies continue the work to create a viable business model
  • One startup team dropped out mid-stream in Launch Flight IV
  • The Business Model Scorecard is a highly effective at guiding aspiring entrepreneurs through the business model design process and compresses the time it takes startups to go to market
  • Validation that anyone with the passion and intestinal fortitude to start a company, from any background or experience level can be taught the universal steps of starting and building a company

Keynote speaker for the Launch Flight IV Graduation Celebration and Launch Flight II Graduate, Rick Miller, wrapped things up perfectly, “You are the true heroes of our society. You are making a difference in your community and inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs to ask themselves: what do I want to create in my life? instead of asking what kind of job do I want to get hired for?”

What’s your big idea? Unleash it today!